If you like exploring islands, this is the trip for you! There are over 80,000 (yes, eighty thousand) islands between Stockhom and Turku. Starting from Stokhom we will gradually make our way north-east, to end at Turku, the oldest city in Finland, the 2011 European Capital of Culture, and the official Christmas City of Finland.
On the way...
|In Swedish, the word 'Skärgården' means archipelago, a sea area covered with islands. A literal translation of the word is 'the garden on the rocks'. The full glory of the Stockholm archipelago is within an hour's sail of the main port of Stockholm and consists of 24,000 islands, from big to small, some inhabited, others large enough for only a smattering of wildflowers, providing some of the most beautiful and sheltered waters in Europe. In high summer, when the sun hardly sets, the weather in the northern Baltic is ideal for sailing. Exploring the archipelago thoroughly could take a long, pleasant lifetime...|
|Stockholm itself is like no other capital in the world. Built on fourteen islands, it rises gracefully from water so clean that you can go swimming or fishing in the very heart of the city. Its waterfront is alive with boats, from ferries to shuttle you around the city to sailboats and yachts that cruise out into the vast archipelago that stretches into the Baltic. The history of Stockholm dates back to the 13th century, and is famous for its winding, cloistered streets, boutiques, and cozy restaurants, all gathered close by to the Royal Palace.|
|The Ålandic landscape was forged many millennia ago by powerful natural forces, which are still at work today, into a distinctive archipelagic landscape consisting of thousands of islands, holmes and skerries. The rapid changes in the landscape from land to water, and from fields and meadows to dense, dark woods as well as the large number of different habitats and the striking wealth of species give Åland its special character. The mosaic-like skärgård, or archipelago, and its inspiring waterways, unusual land formations and rich bird life is perhaps the natural experience that most visitors associate with Åland, as well as the red rock, rapakivi granite, which gives the Ålandic landscape its distinctive hue.|
|The mild sea climate and chalky soil also help to create a rich flora. Åland has many species of orchids and is widely known for its wooded meadows, which are richer in species than anywhere else in the country. There are about 40 nature reserves in Åland, which are intended to preserve different types of nature for future generations. The wooded meadows of Ramsholmen and Nåtö just outside Mariehamn are two well-known examples.|
|In the archipelago off Turku you are surrounded by land, big islands, little islands, cliffs and rocky islets by the dozen - in fact there are far more islands than people! The sea, wind and waves give a special sense of freedom. But the islands are not completely without signs of life and bustle. Some people live here, while others come work here. Others spend their holidays here. Some just pass through and others return time after time. No one can remain untouched by the magnificent surroundings. This is the boundary between land and sea..... The archipelago is extensive and diverse. It is the largest archipelago in the Baltic, and there really are considerably more islands and rocky islets than people here.|
|The chain of islands and rocky islets extends towards the sea for 100 km south-west of Turku. The landscape varies from large islands and verdant islets to bald rock islets in the outer archipelago. The immense lighthouses of Bengtskär, Isokari and Utö in the outer archipelago serve as a reminder of the presence of man, and guide the voyager back to the city lights. Nature in the archipelago is full of wonders. The enchantment of the sea, the verdant beauty of the inner islands, the barren outer islands, the unbroken peace and the rare flora and fauna give a faith in the future.|
|Graham (right) has been skippering trips with CUYC for six years, visiting, amongst other places, Norway, Sardinia, Morocco, the Scottish Islands, and Felixstowe. He began sailing in a dinghy on the River Thames and is still a keen Merlin Rocket sailor, when being a civil engineer doesn’t get in the way.|