Åland’s archipelago, with its smooth rocks and varied, species-rich landscape, is best experienced in your own or a hired boat. You can hire a boat from Ro-No Rent, Midnight Sun Sailing and the organisers of fishing and boating trips.
There are guest harbours with basic services around the whole of Åland. The island state also has innumerable natural harbours. There the Ålander legal right of access to private land (“allemansrätten”) applies, whereby you may anchor for 24 hours max on private land.
Change of crew
From Sweden in the west you make your way to Åland across the open sea. With today’s boats and all the technical equipment you have at your disposal, the 20-nautical-mile stretch is nothing to worry about, provided you check the weather forecast and wave height, and stay clear of the large ferries in the middle of the channels.
In the Ålander guest harbours you’ll mostly meet Finns and Swedes during the high season in July, but also boating enthusiasts from Germany, England, Holland, Russia and the Baltic countries.
Many change crews in Mariehamn, which is easily reached by air and ferry from Stockholm, Helsinki, Turku and Tallinn. It is also easy to change crews in Eckerö Berghamn, Lumparland Långnäs and Svinö, Vårdö Hummelvik and the archipelago municipalities served by Ålandstrafiken.
Basic services and bread
Basic services such as power, water, a waste disposal site, emptying of septic tanks and wi-fi are available in most guest harbours. Many also have shops, fuel, restaurants and bicycle hire.
It may be possible to get freshly baked bread or breakfast for the boat at places like the old lighthouse and pilot island Rödhamn in Lemland and the disused coast guard station on Bärö in Kumlinge.
If you sail around Åland, the northern archipelago in Eckerö, Geta and Saltvik is more unspoiled than the southern and eastern parts, something which people who come from the east from Kökar and Brändö know about.
If you have a smaller boat, you can travel along the waterways of the Åland mainland. The bridge on the Lemström Canal opens every half hour. Kastelholm Castle and Bomarsund are well worth seeing and are reachable in your own boat.
There are two guest harbours in Mariehamn, with full services and active boat clubs: they are the MSF in Österamn and the ÅSS in Västerhamn.
Each week well-known Ålander yachtsmen compete in sailing regattas at the MSF on Monday evenings and the ÅSS on Wednesday evenings. It’s also full speed ahead when the juniors train during the week. There have been regular regattas and both international and national championships in Åland since the end of the 1800s.
Many different categories of boats sail around Åland the weekend after midsummer and the traditional Mariehamn regatta has been held in the middle of July since the early 1900s.
You can buy the modern, instrumental and innovative guide “Åland – guest harbours – channels – anchorage” by Anders Hellberg, published by PQR, from Åland Tourist Information and Mariehamns bokhandel.