From Holtenau, we motor-sailed on smooth seas and in an all-engulfing fog to Utö, Finland's outermost island. Utö has always had a special place in our hearts, not least because Pekka spent the first five years of his life on this rocky little island. As it was the last place we visited when we left Finland eleven years ago, it was only appropriate that it was our first port of call now that we had returned.
Back in the 90's when we started taking sailing more seriously, Pekka remembered reading an article in the Finnish Boat Magazine on “Real Sailors” who gather in Utö every year on the 6th of December to celebrate Finland's Independence Day. As we too wanted to become real sailors it was only natural that, on the 5th of December, we set off for Utö. During the passage, an icy sleet began to fall and soon our deck was like a skating rink, and all the lines were frozen stiff. We arrived in Utö as the night was falling and the wind picking up and, of course, there were no other boats to be seen!
During the night, the wind increased to gale force and was eventually blowing close to 70 knots from the south. We spent the following two days tied up to the L-shaped dock, our good boat Sarema tilting so fiercely that nothing could be kept on the tables. We passed the time watching pilots crawl on all fours along the dock to see how their boats were doing. Oh, those were the days!