Sailing and boating
Explore Åland’s archipelago in your own boat. There are both an abundance of beautiful coves and thousands of islands here. You get to escape the crowds and may often have a whole bay to yourself. The distance from Finland and Sweden is short but sufficient for you to feel as though you’re off on an adventure.
Abroad and yet at home
The Åland islands are located in the middle of the Baltic Sea, in the centre of the world’s largest archipelago. The Åland archipelago is made up of nearly seven thousand islands and constitutes a world of unique beauty. It has every type of landscape imaginable from the inner archipelago’s leafy greenery to the outer skerries’ red granite rocks.
If you set a course from Sweden, you cross the Sea of Åland. The shortest route is about 20 nautical miles over the open sea. For example, you set off from Fejan, Söderarm, Arholma or Grisslehamn. When you catch sight of the first islands, that’s where the adventure begins. Abroad and yet at home. If you come from the Finnish mainland, you’ll travel through a profusion of islands large and small. The Skiftet channel is the only larger expanse of open water you cross.
Plenty of room for manoeuvre in the channels
There is plenty of room for manoeuvre in the channels in the Åland archipelago. You are often able to enjoy having the bay all to yourself. Large parts of the archipelago are still unspoiled and the guest harbours still feel completely authentic. A sailing round trip is about 100 distance minutes or nautical miles. With a bit of luck, you will get to experience everything from the winds on the Norrhavet sound coming up from the southern section of the Gulf of Bothnia known as Bottenhavet, to challenging precision navigation in the Archipelago Sea (Skärgårdshavet) at a gentle pace. In between the two there is the opportunity to simply enjoy the barren archipelago, where legal right of access to private land (“allemansrätten”) applies, whereby you may anchor for short periods and go ashore to places that are uninhabited.
After a long stint sailing, you can fill up both the boat’s and the crew’s depleted reserves at one of the many guest harbours that are often to be found within walking distance of shops and restaurants, for example Brudhäll on Kökar, Seagram on Föglö and Käringsund in Eckerö. When it comes to excellent services, restaurants and night life, the harbour town of Mariehamn has the most to offer boating enthusiasts, of course, and also has a good selection of boat accessory shops. A good way of getting around the town is to hire a bicycle or moped from RO-NO Rent in Österhamn.
Finnish legislation forbids the pumping out of sewage into the sea. All boats operating in Ålandic and Finnish waters must be able to empty their holding tank through a deck fitting. Most Ålandic guest harbours have pumping out stations for sewage from holding tanks.
There is plenty of room for manoeuvre in the channels. However, you should still show respect for large boats, cruise ships and archipelago ferries. Take account of the heavy marine traffic, remember to look behind you as well as forward, and keep an eye on the channels. If you go past any of the large ferries, remember to keep to either one side of the channel or the other, and out at sea stay a nautical mile or so to the side of the ferries. If you decide to turn away, be clear about your chosen course and avoid wavering back and forth, risking creating confusion on the bridges of the large ferries. Thanks to the new nautical charts and technological developments in marine electronics there is no reason to sit and struggle in front of the large ferries and keep to their channels, which are sometimes quite narrow.
Legal right of access to private land applies in Åland but is more limited. International marine regulations apply in Åland, but you should note that the speed restrictions are given in km/h.
Important telephone numbers
If there should be an accident out at sea, you can contact the Ålandic Sea Rescue www.sjoraddningen.ax via the Sea Rescue’s national emergency number 02941000 or via the general emergency number 112. (If you are ringing from an overseas number: +358 294 1000) The sea rescue services for the Archipelago Sea, Sea of Åland, Bottenhavet and the Gulf of Bothnia are run by MRCC in Turku, tel. 0294 1001. If you need help from the sea rescue service without there being an emergency, you can ring 24/7 to the Sea Rescue’s helpline: + 358 18 19475. Please note, however, that the GSM network does not completely cover the Åland archipelago.
Recommended sailing routes and guestharbours
Do you dream of taking your boat to, via or around Åland? Browse the brochure Sail Åland 2019 in English and find out more about the marinas and attractions on the Åland Islands.
We have set out some suggested routes and plenty of information about the guest harbours in the brochure Ålands gästhamnar to help you plan your summer sailing trips.
You can buy the modern, instrumental and innovative guide “Åland – guest harbours – channels – anchorage” by Anders Hellberg from the publisher PQR.