Navigation and weather
The Baltic Sea by the RCC Pilotage Foundation (Imray, £40) is an essential companion when cruising in the Baltic. It contains an enthusiastic and excellent section on the Åland Islands, including suggestions for routes through the islands depending on the time available, one’s desire for the solitude of the waters of the northern skärgård (skerries), and whether intending to continue to Finland or not.
Åland is not the place to skimp on charts. Both up-to-date electronic charts and the Nautical chart series Merikarttasarja C – Ahvenanmaa, (Liikennevirasto, €45) are, in our opinion, essential. Navigation needs to be immediate; it takes place in the cockpit rather than below at the chart table. There is no substitute for the combination of a chartplotter matching a paper chart and, most importantly,
matching the Mark 1 eyeball.
Weather in the Baltic in the main sailing season, early July to mid-August, is usually warm and settled. We experienced more unsettled conditions than normal. We mostly used the Swedish weather app, SMHI (www. smhi.se), which we found both detailed and reliable. It gives detailed forecasts for two days including wind in metres per second, and the amount of rain, extended forecasts for 10 days ahead, radar pictures of what has happened over the previous number of hours which is helpful in tracking any thunderstorms, and weather warnings. It is in Swedish but it is very graphic and easy to follow.
Up-to-date charts and pilot books are essential for Åland