The Åland sea­far­ing tra­di­tion

Yachting Monthly - - ADVENTURE -

Sit­u­ated in the mid­dle of the Baltic, the Åland Is­lands have a long tra­di­tion of sea-far­ing. This, com­bined with a weak economy, led to them be­com­ing the fi­nal strong­hold of the wind­jam­mers after their routes were usurped by steamships. Gus­tav Erik­son, the last of the great sail­ing ship own­ers, went to sea at the age of nine and even­tu­ally be­came the owner of up to 20 square rig­gers in the twi­light years of mer­chant sail­ing ships. By then the South Aus­tralian grain trade was about the only prof­itable route for these great ves­sels but even then only if costs were pared to the bone. Of the 13 ships which took part in the 1939 grain race, chron­i­cled by Eric Newby in his won­der­ful book The Last Grain Race, ten were owned by Cap­tain Erik­son.

Moshulu, on which Eric Newby en­listed as an ap­pren­tice sea­man, left for Aus­tralia in 1938 from Belfast and, thanks to Ralph who had worked for the Erik­son Com­pany in Mariehamn, we learned that the Pom­mern had also docked in Belfast the same year. Sud­denly there was a pal­pa­ble link with a by­gone era for us.

The Erik­son com­pany con­tin­ued though re­duced un­til the name and last few ships were sold in 2006.

Pom­mern, a sis­ter ship of the Moshulu, in which the au­thor Eric Newby sailed

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