Gustav III was a colorful character in the history of Kingdom of Sweden. He was a talented king who reformed the kingdom different ways, including promoting freedom of speech, culture and freedom of religion. About six years after his accession he was having a trade journey with his royal naval fleet to St. Petersburg. During the journey stormy weather forced them to take refugee by Suuri-Pisi island. King’s royal emblem was carved into the bedrock together with the date 14th June 1777.
239 years, one month and 16 days later weather was very different. The forecast for Lake Saimaa suggested that the day there would had been almost calm and rainy. My wife, the oldest daughter and I decided to head for Suuri-Pisi island on the sea. We drove to the fish harbor of Klamila where we launched Sarastus. The journey started by paddling in calm weather until after one nautical mile a breeze moved us nicely to the island.
In Suuri-Pisi there are many gorgeous rocky shores with few short patches of sandy beach. We beached in a bay at the northern end of the island. The bay offers a very sheltered natural harbour with a sandy beach at end of it. For swimming a more attractive beach is on the northwestern side of the island.
We didn’t see that much of litter. On the southwestern shore there were some plastic garbage that evidently had been floated there from bypassing vessels. If we had had a plastic bag with us, we could have contributed cleaning of the archipelago.
After hiking around the magnificent rocky island we started our return journey, first heading for the south and then bypassing Mustamaa island. The weather was very comfortable for sailing. A gentle breeze (F3) was practically without gusts. Significant wave height was around 20-30 cm and air temperature 20°C.
I have to say that as an inland waters sailor, heading for the open sea was a quite impressive experience. We sailed two nautical miles towards south from Suuri-Pisi, bypassing Pahaluoto, Väliluoto and Ulkoluoto rocks. The distance to the Finnish border zone was around two cables and to the border of Russia 1.4 nautical miles at minimum. Heading for the open sea, sitting on the gunwale and examining the condition of the shrouds the captain’s responsibility of his crew became more tangible than ever. The sailing atmosphere was also shaped by the Russian replies on the VHF radio in the background.
Although storms on the sea must be far more severe than on the lakes, I considered sailing on the sailing simpler somehow. Wind was more steadier and almost without gusts. There was plenty of space for long tacks. Still, I missed the warm fresh water of the lakes and the fine sandy beaches of the southern Lake Saimaa.
The total sailing distance was 20 nautical miles. During the journey we saw the beautiful archipelago between Virolahti and Hamina together with the horizon before the open sea. We will be back one day when weather is favorable!