Arcturus set a new record today. Farthest north! (Come to think of it, we're also furthest east. But that's not as exciting.)
We're moored in the guest harbor in Mariehamn, in Åland, the large, red-rocked archipelago about 40 mile east of Sweden. Our latitude is 60º 04' North, a full twenty miles north of the southernmost point on Greenland, an unnamed islet which lies just 1.2 miles south of Cape Farewell, at 59º 44' North.
"It feels like Greenland, too," said Mia. Funny. It's the first day I've had to wear jeans and a wool sweater since moving onto the boat two weeks ago, and it feels like fall is on the way. The boat is closed up and it's blowing like stink outside.
We might have set a speed record today too. The forecast was calling for southwest wind today, 7-9 meters per second. This system of wind speed is new to me, so it doesn't quite register what, exactly, it's going to be. It's roughly double, in knots, apparently, but I think today the weathermen were off.
We left Granhamn this morning, and at the time it probably was blowing about 15 knots, and we followed one of the big Baltic ferries out of the main channel through the archipelago and into 'Ålands Hav,' the 'sea of Åland.' For the first ten miles or so I toyed with the idea of hoisting the Parasailor, as we were right on the edge of the real test I wanted to have with the sail - 15 to 18 knots of breeze with a bit of a following sea. Not real ocean waves, but far more sea than we'd been seeing inshore in the archipelago. Mia has a knack for predicting the future with the way her belly feels, and talked me out of it. Thirty minutes or so later, it was blowing 25. Good call.
Nevertheless, it was a fine day for sailing - sun and puffy clouds, friendly seas. We poled the genoa out and set the mainsail on the preventer and blasted off downwind, 'Sune the Driver' our Cape Horn windvane doing most of the work (though he was a bit rusty following his winter hiatus. Or maybe it was us). Arcturus covered the 35 miles in just over 5 hours, averaging close to seven knots, faster, theoretically, than she is supposed to be able to go.
It was tense coming in the channel to Mariehamn. The outer islands formed a very nice lee shore in the strong southwesterly wind, and we were going great guns barreling down on a line of islands and trying to identify the lighthouse on the one we were to leave to port. Mia was below doing the navigating while I steered. We found it alright, but I didn't take a deep breath until we were through the first gap and into slightly calmer water where the channel was easier to see. Interestingly, there is a big, white, triangular building, kind of like a small pyramid on the island adjacent to the lighthouse. This was visible probably 10 miles offshore, and was what I was aiming at when Mia gave me the course to steer. I thought for a long time it was the lighthouse itself. Turns out it's a cafe. Hmm.
So here we are, arrived at the real goal of this year's sailing. We've got over a week to explore the place, and some close local friends on hand to be our tour guides. And we're technically in Finland now, so I'm sure part of the plan will include a sauna or two (they have one at the marina!). Good times!