Wednesday, 20 May 2009

May 15th 2009 - Exploring the Alands by bicycle

After a few days at sea today was the day to break the bikes out of the bilges and go exploring. Carol hired a stunning pink affair for just 7 euros a day.

Carol on her rather stunning pink bicycle

After breakfast ashore the first stop was the excellent Chandlery about 3km out of town where we finally bought the charts of the Aland Islands and the route to the south as well as the usual bits and bobs that always seem to appear at the checkout.

We were moored in the Eastern Harbour so we cycled over to the West Harbour to see what we were missing. It was certainly quieter, better sheltered and more picturesque. We had lunch in a dockside cafe and then had a look around the Pommern. This 4 masted square rigger had been built on the Clyde in 1903 and had spent the next 35 years sailing around the world carrying cargo. She had no engine and a crew of just 26. Her last commercial journey was in 1937 from Mariehamn to Adelaide and back and then she was retired. Indeed she was one of the last commercial sailing vessels to make the trip. She is now tied up permanently in in the West Harbour and is an excellent museum.

The Pommern at Mariehamn

Nearly all of the work on board was done by the crew who heaved on ropes, ground winches and pushed capstans. A small steam engine – made in Cradley Heath – was used to winch cargo on and off.

The Donkey Boiler on the Pommern

In the late afternoon we cycled out to the Ramsholmen Peninsula just west of the airport. This delightful nature reserve was alive with flowers and deciduous trees. Some photos are included below.

Swan at Ramsholmen

Wood Anemones at Ramsholmen in the forest meadow