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A trip to unexperienced waters in 2001-2005
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Hannu Aulin & Auli Irjala

Helsinki, Finland
©Auli Irjala

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hannu.jpg (8669 bytes)  Hannu Aulin (born 1957)
- has a small plumbing, heating and ventilation company
- hobbies: snowboarding and photography
- boat inspector of the Yacht Club Sindbad 1989-99

Hannu Aulin has been sailing since 1979, when he rigged the life boat no. 5 of the steamship Ariadne. After her, he owned the trawler Aldebaran (1983-86) and an Inferno 31 (1986).
Kristiina was bought in 1986.
The first trip of Kristiina was made to Kiel, Germany. Since then she has taken Hannu all around the Baltic Sea from early May to late November. The Baltic Sea has become familiar to Hannu aboard other sailingboats as well.
Hannu has solo-sailed to Visby (Sweden) from Helsinki, and from Bergen (Norway) to Shetland and Fair Isle, and back to the Norwegian coast. He has visited every island group in the North Atlantic. In 1991, he sailed Kristiina to Spitzbergen reaching 80,01 deg. North. On this trip he also visited the Bear Island near the Russian waters.On the second trip up North in 1996, the aim was to get ashore on Greenland, but the ice blocked the way. This trip included visits to Faroe Islands, Iceland and Jan Mayen. The North has tempted Hannu at other times too. He has been skipper on several whale research trips around the Lofoten Islands in Northern Norway, e.g. on the BBC shooting trip in 1997.

auli.jpg (9995 bytes)Auli Irjala (born 1961)
- Master of Arts, freelance writer and editor
- hobbies: sports, art and culture
- secretary of the Yacht Club Sindbad 1997-99
- Certificate to navigate hired boats issued by the Finnish Maritime Administration in 1997
- Sailing Instructor qualified by the Finnish Yachting Association in 1999

Auli has been the skipper of her own sailing boat since 1986, when she bought an Ohlson 22 named Hagar. In 1992, she bought some more length, a 26 ft Finnexpress, called Illusia. In 1998, Illusia was sold, and Auli became the first mate of Kristiina.
She has been sailing on other vessels as well. The tall ships have interested Auli, and the first tall ship trip was on the Swedish yawl Ariel, from Helsinki to Mariehamn (Åland) in 1988, as a part of Tall Ships Race. In 1992, another Tall Ships Race took her on a Dutch steel schooner Elisabeth Low from Kotka to Tallinn (Estonia) and back to Helsinki. In 1996, she crossed the Atlantic aboard Finnish schooner Helena. The route took her from Bermuda via Azores to Portsmouth, England. Turn of the year 1997-98 Auli spent sailing around the Canary Islands (Gran Canaria, Tenerife, La Palma and Gomera) on a Finnish topsail schooner Tradewind.
In summer 1998, she made a trip to the North Sea with Hannu and their friends taking the route Bergen – Shetland – Fair Isle – Orkney – Skotland – the Hebrides. The boat was a Norwegian steel ketch Iolaire.
Auli has been skipper on three sailing trips outside her home waters, namely in the Mediterranean on a Jeanneau 36.2 (1997), along the South coast of Norway on a Vindø 38 (1998), and in the Caribbean on a Beneteau 505 (1999).

Auli & Aulin
Auli&Hannu.jpg (50619 bytes)In addition, that our names match together, we also share the passion for sailing. We have both had our own boats, sailing our own ways, until we met each other on the same boat by coincidence. That was a meeting of two soulmates, and we realised that together we are able to fulfill something that neither of us would do alone.
This trip is more than a sailing trip for us. It is a change of life. The six square meters cabin of Kristiina will be our home. As benefit, we are going to see wonderful places, meet new people, experience things, and above all – to sail. Our route is special, characterised by our interest in nature, especially in the North. Every trip has to have a challenge – our first challenge will be Greenland. Our aim is to get ashore. It depends on nature, on ice.
To our knowledge this route is unique, under the Finnish flag no one has sailed these waters before.


The Route

Start: 12th of May 2001 Helsinki, Finland

The Baltic Sea
: Estonia, Sweden and Denmark.
The North Atlantic: Norway, Shetland, Faroe Island and Iceand (June-July 2001). Read the first logs, Finland-Norway and Shetland-Iceland.

Greenland (July-August 2001)
was our first great challenge, to be the first Finnish pleasure vessel ashore on Greenland. We succeeded and landed on Greenland on the 23rd of July 2001
Read more!

Labrador and Newfoundland (September 2001)
were part of Great Britain
until 1949, when it was joined to Canada. The Belle Isle Strait separates Newfoundland island from the continent. The Gulf of St. Lawrence narrows to St. Lawrence river, where Quebec and Montreal are located. In the mouth of Lake Ontario is the Thousand Islands area. Read more from the Labrador and Newfoundland log, and the St. Lawrence river log

The Great Lakes; Ontario, Erie, Huron and Michigan (October 2001)
The Great Lakes are great, each the size of the Gulf of Finland. The fifth and most northern lake, Superior, was not on our route. The five lakes consist one fifth of the fresh water on earth. Lakes were an important transport route for the Indians, as well as Europeans, when they arrived in the 1600's . With industrialisation also transportation increased, and more canals and locks were built along the waterway. The Welland canal, which goes around the Niagara falls, was established in 1932. In 1959, a ship route was finished from lakes to Atlantic. The border between USA and Canada runs through four lakes, only Michigan is entirely on US side. The logbook tells more.

ississippi and 4 other rivers (November-December 2001)
After unstepping the masts in Chicago, we entered the river system and begun our two months motoring across the America. In addition to the mighty Mississippi, we motored along Illinois, Ohio, Tennessee and Tombigbee rivers. Just before Christmas we came out in Mobile, Alabama. How was it on the Huckleberry Finn's route...

Florida and Cuba (January-March 2002)
After spending a month in Florida (St. Petersburg, Key West), we sailed over to Cuba.

Panama (April-May 2002)
is much more than the canal. We enjoyed San Blas, met a Finnish couple living near Portobelo, hiked in the jungle, went scuba diving and horse riding. Finally, on the 8th of May, it was our turn to transmit the Panama Canal.

The Pacific Ocean (May-October 2002)

The Pacific is the largest sea in the world. It consists several island groups
(Polynesia, Melanesia, Mikronesia) and about 10.000 islands. The Galapagos Islands, which Charles Darwin made famous, were our first Pacific stop. They lie 1000 miles from Panama. The next leg was the longest so far: 3000 miles to Marquesas in French Polynesia. After that the islands chain is more dense, and before New Zealand we visited Tuamotus, Society Islands, Niue and Tonga.

New Zealand (November 2002-April 2003)
The SW Pacific cyclone season begins in November continueing to April. This time we spent in NZ travelling around, maintaining the boat and preparing for the next legs. We arrived to NZ via the Minerva reef, a special place worth visiting. The first months we spent on the North Island, in Opua, Bay of Islands, Whangarei, Auckland and Great Barrier Island. The sail from Auckland to Wellington took two weeks. We enjoyed the beautiful Marlborough Sounds, visited Christchurch, from where we made a ten days car trip to the mountains.

New Zealand - Tahiti - Hawaii -  Alaska (April-August 2003, 7622 nautical miles, 60 days at sea)
When you want to sail from NZ to Alaska, from the SW corner of the Pacific to the NE corner, you have to sail either via Japan or French Polynesia. You cannot sail straight unless you want to tack. We chose the latter, a route via French Polynesia and Hawaii, which is an old clipper route, used by the square-rigs. They were as lousy tackers as Kristiina.
The route runs east from New Zealand, along the westerlies at latitude 40 S, "the roaring forties". And we got the roars right away in the beginning. Around longitude 155 W we started to head north. The first two weeks it was blowing 25-35 knots except two calm days, and two gales, when we had 40 maybe even 50 knots. When it was blowing hardest Kristiina sailed 10 hours with bare poles  making 6-7 knots. The last week before Tahiti it was normal SE trade wind.
From Tahiti (20. S) to Hawaii (20. N) the route crosses the Intra Tropical Convergence Zone (ITCZ) near the equator before the NE trades are reached. We entered the ITCZ at the lat 6 N. It became calm and cloudy, raining time to time. A big cross swell was rocking the boat. ITCZ was about three degrees i.e. 180 miles wide. At the lat 9 N we met the NE trade winds. We crossed the equator on the 10th of June at 147 deg 52 min W.
The NE Pacific hurricane season begins in May, but the hurricanes seldom reach Hawaii. However, we looked at the weather fax more often. Tahiti-Hawaii leg was gusty with rain showers. Fortunately no head winds.
From Hawaii it is in theory possible to follow the North Pacific high, getting the southerlies at the edge of the high. During our sailing in July, the high spread itself far out to west, and streched also to north as we were sailing. So we had very light winds and a lot of calm, meaning a lot of motoring. We never met the fresh westerlies, normally blowing above 40. N.

Look at the log books Christchurch - Tahiti (2882 miles, 23 days), Tahiti - Hawaii (2480 miles, 19 days) and Hawaii - Alaska (2260 miles, 18 days).

A year in Alaska (August 2003 - August 2004)
After the long sailing from NZ we really enjoyed the beauty and tranquility of Alaska. We don't know what is best: the variety and great number of animals, friendly people, or magnicifient scenery. That all make Alaska - the best place on our trip so far. On the logbook you can read about Kodiak, look at the bearphotos, and explore Prince William Sound with us. We wintered in Cordova, Prince William Sound, and explored the Cook Inlet and Alaska Peninsula, as well as the Shumagin Islands and the easternmost Aleutian islands in summer 2004. After that we sailed over to Sitka via Kodiak.

Motoring and coastal sailing in autumn 2004: British Columbia and USA west coast.
This area is known for light winds in summertime. We were not able to sail on the long way down until arounf Vancouver Island. We stopped among other places in Sointula, a village established by the Finns in 1901. The amount of boats increased as we came south. Solitude anchorages were passed life. In the end of September we arrived to Vancouver (pop. two million). Read here what else we experienced in the British Columbia. In October we sailed down the West Coast of US, stopping in San Fransisco and San Diego.

Mexico 15.11.2004 - 27.1.2005

Mexico treats cruisers with a lot of bureauracy, but still the country is charming. Friendly people, tasty food, casual lifestyle and numerous sights make the thing. Mexico is huge. We sailed 1800 miles along the westcoast. Scenery and climate in north is very different from the south

Nicaragua and Panama February - March 2005
From Mexico we sailed directly to Nicaragua and from there to Panama skipping Guatemala, El Salvador and Costa Rica. Not enough time for all. 

West Caribbean and Florida April - May 2005
On the first of April we started north from Panama. West Caribbean appeared to be really nice sailing area: perfect winds and interesting places. We stopped on the islands of Providencia (Columbia) and Guanaja (Honduras) as well as on the lonely atoll Vivorillo between these two. A brief return to Mexico on the Isla Mujeres, and then we rided Gulf Stream to Florida. The Atlantic crossing was started in light winds on the passage to Bermuda.

Crossing the Atlantic Ocean in May-July 2005
Passage from Bermuda to the Azores
(28.5.-13.6.) took 16 days and Kristiina logged 1995 nautical miles. We took a southern route, because in north (where people often sail) it was 50 knots headwinds. We spent three week on the Azores visiting four of the nine islands (Faial, Terceira, Pico ja Sao Jorge). Passage from the Azores to England (6.-18.7.) was easy and slow with very light winds. The 1400 mile passage took 12 days (an average of 116 miles per 24-hours).

Europe July-August 2005
From England we sailed to the Netherlands, and after a refreshing adventure in the Dutch canals we continued to Germany and through the Kiel canal to the Baltic Sea. The log is telling more about what happened when a 6 metres high bridge was ahead of us....

Back to Finland!



s/y Kristiina

is a 37 feet ketch made of steel. It was built in 1983. She is one of the five sisterboats designed by Pertti Duncker, who made a circumnavigation in 1990-96. Hannu Aulin has owned her since 1986.


Satellite phone:
Outboard motor:
hull 36,7 feet (11,2 m), overall 42 feet (12,8 m)
10,5 feet (3,2 m)
6,7 feet (2,1 m)
Perkins Prima 50 hp
500 liters (110 gallons)
500 liters (110 gallons)
75 m²
main, furling genoa (2 pcs), furling foresail,
storm foresail, spinnaker, mizzen staysail, mizzen sail

Autohelm 3000, 6000 and 2000 for the windvane
ICOM 800
KVH Tracphone 50, Inmarsat Mini-M
Hewlett-Packard Omnibook XE3
Nikon F-65, Hewlett-Packard PhotoSmart 613
Plastimo (6 persons)
Yamaha Malta 4 hp
Refleks oil stove


Finland - Suomi  70ºN - 59ºN  31ºE - 19ºE   

People ask often about Finland, which has made us to think what to tell about our country - except the hard facts. Well, here is a try. Below you find some of the facts. More information can be found on the website of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, which has for instance an interesting story about the history of sauna.

We have lot of space (only 17 inhabitants by square km), which has made us to value our privacy. We might seem quiet or rude, but that's not the meaning, we just are not fluent small-talkers. If some virtues can be mentioned, one is honesty - sometimes you call it naivety - and 'sisu', the guts, which makes us to do silly things (like sail to cold places). But 'sisu' has also kept our country independent in times of war. Finns like sauna, Koskenkorva (votka), and new things. Almost all the Finns, also kids, have a private mobile (cell) phone. Nature and sports are also important to us, although nowdays only one third of the population lives in rural environment. Town-people flee to their cottages when they can. There are about 0.5 million cottages and 1.7 million saunas in Finland. We come from Helsinki, which is the capital.

Finland's location in Europe

Finland does NOT have mountains or fjords, that's Norway, and despite we are often counted as one of the Scandinavian countries, we are from a different genetic stock (1/4 Siberian, 3/4 European). Finnish is a Fenno-Ugric language related to Estonian, Sámi, and Hungarian. Our ancestors inhabited the area 10 000 years ago. And yes, Nokia is a Finnish company, not Japanese.

- is a republic with 5.2 million inhabitants
- is a member of the European Union since 1995
- is after Iceland the most northern country in the world (but the most northern country which has agriculture)
- has landborders with Sweden (586 km / 369 miles), Russia (1269 km / 793 m) and Norway (727 km / 454 m); 
  and seaborder with Estonia
- is the sixth largest country in Europe with 338 000 square km (132 000 square miles)
- has some 244 000 lakes, which make 10 % of the area
- has some 200 000 islands (half at sea, half at lakes)
- is covered by forests for 3/4 of the area
- has cold winters and warm summers
- has two official languages: Finnish and Swedish (spoken as a mother tongue by 6 %), and one indigenous minority language,
  Sámi, spoken by the Sámi people in Lapland
- livelihood comes mainly from engineering technology and forests; half of the export is composed of metal, engineering and
  electronics industries, the forest products industry make 30 % of the export
- had a GNP per capita of 25 500 euros in 2000.