One of the advantages of the boats, that can be moved on trailer, is that you can choose your starting point quite freely. If the waters in front of your home marina start to feel too familiar, you can look for a new launching place bit further and start sailing from there. We decided to choose this approach at this time. We towed Sarastus to Ahvionsalmi strait, where there is a sandy boat ramp near the ferry line. The ramp wasn’t perfect, because of gently sloping shore, power line and a tall bushy birch, but despite of them the launching was a fairly straightforward job.
Pihlajanvesi is slightly different environment from Lake Saimaa area, because the waters are more rocky and narrow. Still, there are many sandy beaches. Pihlajavesi isn’t a true national park, but the government has gained there land and water areas for founding the statutory protected area. In the practice this can be seen as shores in their natural state without private cottages. An exception are numerous public excursion harbors.
We sailed through Ahvionsalmi and Salosensalmi straits to the larger waters and runned with tail winds to Mitinhiekka harbor. The winds varied from totally calm to fresh breeze.
Mitinhiekka is a great place, especially because of the fine sandy beach, which was our children’s favorite. Water was very warm there, likely around 25°C, and you were able to swim for long without feeling cold.
After a picnic, swimming and short hiking we launched Sarastus again and headed for the straits north from Pesosensaari and Vehkasaari islands. We also bypassed Pääskyniemi destination, where there were many campers, that have come there by car from the continent.
Sun went down before our return to the boat ramp. In Salosensalmi strait we heard couple of mysterious splashes coming from the southern shore. Could it have been Saimaa ringed seal? There were no signs of humans, that could have made the sound. Just a pity, that the source of the sound was cloaked by the darkness.
As opposite to the Southern Lake Saimaa area, Pihlajavesi seems to have only daybeacons. Our only option to determine our location, was to rely on fading silhouettes of the islands and using GPS/GLONASS-based digital maps. Although the missing lights surprised me, the experience of sailing in the dark was exciting. Of course relying completely on the navigation software was bit worrisome. A powerful-enough waterproof flashlight was added to the shopping list of the boat, to make night sailing safer next time.
We returned safely to the Ahvionsalmi ferry, where beaching had to be done in darkness, with help of simple flashlight and back lights of the car only. Fortunately we had gained some experience during the summer and packing the rig on the trailer was a fairly easy job. Pihlajavesi is an interesting water area, which is worth exploring another time too.