Tag Archives | Nordhavn

Return to Sweden

We returned to Sweden from Uto, Finland six weeks after we’d departed for Aland and Finland, and had an easy crossing of the north Baltic Sea. As with our last stop in Sweden, we anchored for the night on the edge of the archipelago, this time near the island of Fejan. But this time we…


Uto is right at the southwest tip of Finland, and a natural place for a military base. The Russians first built one here on their western border with Sweden and enhanced it in the early 1900s to protect from an increased threat from Germany. The area is full of guns and military fortifications that appear…

The Scenic Route

From the Aland Islands, we’d run fairly directly to Helsinki and then on to the Saimma Lakes. On the return, we took a more scenic route that brought us closer to shore-side infrastructure and settlements. The boating season hadn’t really started when we were heading east, but was well underway on on the westbound trip—it…


After we complete the work on Envoy in Corfu’s Gouvia marina our agents, A1 Yachting, clear us out of Greece and we head to Sarande in Albania just a short hop across the Corfu Channel. Our friend Chris is still with us. 
On the way a six metre powerboat overtakes us at high speed about five metres off our beam – unthinking, dangerous behavior from locals in high speed power boats can be a problem throughout the Med.
At Sarande the shelter isn’t very good as it’s fully exposed to the South while the prevailing NW winds send a swell around into the bay. We’re directed to moor quayside, but the quay was in fact just a finger about 10 metres long leaving Envoy’s stern exposed and close to a large car ferry. So we decide not to stay there but to anchor out in the bay close to a NZ yacht with a solo yachtsman aboard. With our flopper stoppers deployed the effect of the swell is considerably reduced and we’re quite comfortable.

Sarande anchorage viewed from castle

Envoy alongside a very short quay – we had to move

Both nights in Albania we eat out finding the food delicious and inexpensive with good friendly service.
View of fishing boats from our harbour side restaurant table

This is our third visit to Albania so we’ve seen many of the local sights but decide to hire a car and driver for a tour up the coast. Our driver is a nice guy called Mundi,  half Albanian and half Greek.
First we drive up to the hilltop castle for a spectacular view down on Sarande. Mundi explains that Albania was Communist until 1992 and then had a short but violent civil war in 1998 with about 2,000 people killed. It seems to be stable and reasonably safe these days and we never feel ill at ease
The sparsely populated coastline is rugged and spectacular. We stop for lunch at an unusual cafe with fresh water springs flowing through it and the water is so cold it has a cooling effect on the cafe.
Diane sitting in cafe with fresh water springs

Our other main stop is at one of Ali Pasha’s castles in Panorma Bay, an important historical stop over point for vessels traversing this coast. The castle’s still in pretty good condition and it’s easy to imagine what it was like a few hundred years back. Ali Pasha employed French engineers to design and build the castle and being a pretty ruthless guy he had them all executed upon the castle’s completion to keep its secrets. I nearly joined them in fact – as I went to step inside one of the nearby buildings a large snake slithered across the doorway just in front of me so I gave up the idea of going inside.
Inside Ali Pasha’s castle, once decorated with carpets and tapestries

We leave Albania for Italy, stopping for one night to anchor off the village of Ammou on the south side of an island called Nissos Othoni. This is a first for us and Ammou would rate as one of the nicest anchorages we’ve been into. Ashore there’s some nice tavernas and some torpedoes displayed in a memorial to Greek sailors lost in a submarine called Protefs rammed by an Italian gunboat in 1940. This is a stunning bay and we’ll certainly spend more time there on the way back to Corfu. Of course most anchorages are subject to weather and our waitress told us that in southerly gales huge waves wash right up the beach and over the road.
Torpedo and launcher from submarine Protefs

View of Ammou

Leaving Ammou soon after first light we cruise to Otranto on Italy’s NE Adriatic coastline. This is new territory for us and it’s a nine hour cruise in light winds and a sloppy northerly one metre swell – a good test for the Naiad stabilisers and they perform well. As we get within about 20 miles of Otranto a southerly current sets and we lose about a knot – not significant on a fast boat, but in our case about 15% of our speed. We had planned to anchor in Otranto harbour, but several yachts anchored there are pitching wildly so we decide to moor stern-to the quay alongside some other boats. We’re directed to a rather narrow space with a 12m yacht on our starboard side and a 6m power boat to port. As we reverse in to our position the 6m power boat moves in the wind, blocking our entry. A marinara jumps into the boat to move it away, but at the same time we have a problem securing the lazy line quickly and Envoy starts to drift to leeward away from her position. We quickly throw a line from Envoy’s beam to somebody aboard the yacht to starboard and order is restored. The marinaras here – Andrea and Fabricio are really nice helpful guys, but the shelter is quite poor with a lot of movement. There are no toilets or showers, power is only available from 1600 to 0900hrs and the cost is a rather high 100 Euros per night! At least the atmosphere and views are great.
This quayside area seemed only suitable for smallish boats but next day a huge Envoy look-alike vessel berths here proving that theory wrong. Otium is about 80ft long weighing about 100 tonnes. Her owner tells me they almost lost Otium several years ago during a sudden 60 knot gale in the Gulf of Taranto when they were unable to turn Otium due to windage on her beam and six metre seas.
Envoy moored in Otranto beside big brother

Most of the boats in Otranto are small motor boats

Otranto’s formidable castle

During our stay we enjoy one of our favorite meals spaghetti al vongole (clams) with local rose vino

Great Saimaa Lakes

Some of the best places we have visited in our cruise around the world were destinations we hadn’t heard of before arriving in the area. The Great Saimaa Lake system is a beautiful example. We knew we wanted to visit Finland and were looking forward to exploring the thousands of islands that make it a…

Saimaa Canal Exit

On our exit from the Saimaa Canal, we passed through all eight locks, cleared out of Finland, through Russia, and back into Finland all in one busy 15-hour run. As with our entry, the boat was searched extensively at the Russian border, but otherwise the process went smoothly. And also as on the inbound journey,…

Return to Lappeenranta

From Lake Pihlajavesi we ran 71 miles back to Lappeenranta, overnighting partway along. We’d gone through almost all the gasoline we bought in Nynashamn back in April, so stopped off at Puumala to fill our gas tanks for the tender and top up our diesel. At Lappeenranta we found a surprisingly secluded anchorage just north…

Lake Pihlajavesi

The Saimaa Ringed Seal are among the most endangered in the world, with a current population below 400 animals. They have been isolated from other Ring Seal species for nearly 10,000 years when the the land rose in the last ice age, and are one of the few living freshwater seals. Sightings are rare, but…


Imatrankoski, the rapids on the Vuoksi River, have been a tourist attraction since the late 1700s and are one of 27 “National Landscapes of Finland” selected for their great symbolic value and cultural or historical significance. Since 1929 the rapids have been blocked by the Imatra Hydroelectric Plant, but the dam is regularly opened in…

Punkaharju Ridge

The Punkaharju Ridge near Savonlinna is a centuries-old travel route formed about 10,000 years ago when the continental glacier receded in eastern Finland. The natural beauty of the area has attracted tourists for two centuries and today the region is protected as a nature reserve and has been designated one of 27 “National Landscapes of…