160808 Exceptional Arrival
The moderate wind of 6 m/s NE made it possible to exchange lighthouse keepers as scheduled. The weather was cloudy and grayish as we crossed the Åland Sea, but our minds were filled with expectations and thrill for the upcoming experience.
Our secret wishes of facing a free seal was fullfilled already by the Sankrona cliff which was, along with the surrounding waters, literaturely crowded with these peculiar creatures. According to our skipper Granberg, there were several hundreds of them in this very spot of the Ålands Sea - a view, that seemingly made an impression also to the local folks. Some of the seals were holding their faces above the waterline and observing us curiously, others were just lying on the cliffs and ignoring us. As we passed the island, a bunch of them escorted us half way to the Märket. A wonderful welcome to the lighthouse, indeed!
After exchanging thoughts and practical issues over a cup of coffee, Christa and Torolf left Märket along with the daytime guests: Kerstin and the photographer from the local newspaper and Sven, a lighthouse enthusiast.
Before even settling down, we had the pleasure of touring the first visiors of our own, two couples from Hammarland, Åland. We had a delightful conversation and feel that we are priviledged to meet people this way.
Märket itself seems to be in much worse condition than we expected. The facelift made by the Lighthouse Society is noticeable, but the outer walls of the building are in desperate need of a thorough repair. Large investments are required in order to preserve Märkets dignity.
New lighthouse keepers Annukka and Johan
The northern storm is blowing 15 m/s. The islet seems to become smaller by the hour. In the morning, we were still able to walk all the way to the eastern cliff to smell the salt in the air. By noon a small stream of water was crossing the islet and splitting it in two halves.
We continued to do our chores inside the lighthouse, cleaning and placing buckets in places where rain water was dripping through the roof. Every time we looked through the window, we got surprised how the scenery had changed. Now the stream has grown into a large flood, the waves have increased in height even more and the little island has become smaller and smaller. In the morning, it seemed impossible for the water to reach the breakwater - now it is inevitable. The waves turn around the tips of the islet and reach also the sheltered southern shore. It feels unreal to see waves moving towards you from opposite directions.
The weather makes it impossible to reach Märket. We have also lost visual contact with our neighbours, Sälskär in Åland and Understen and Märketskallan on the Swedish coast.
Today is the International Lighthouse Day - Märket remains isolated from the modern world.
J & A
180808 Visiting Birdies
The night calmed down the northern wind that had outrageously ventilated its anger during the past 24 hours. Despite todays pleasant southeastern wind the waves kept rolling over the islet and reminding us of yesterday.
The weather was perfect for outdoor activities so we spent the day outside. Johan arranged a platform in order to safely paint the last wall of the shower room that is located just above the steep southern cliff of Märket. Annukka took care of the routine work, first the compost and later on emptying the toilet. After the dirty tasks it was rewarding to have a dive into the rolling sea in the sheltered lagoon.
At dinner, we were distracted by a strange noise coming from the first floor. Had someone entered the building without us noticing? As we cautiously descended the stairs, we were able to localize the origin of the mysterious sound to the old kitchen. Johan bravely stepped into the room and faced a flying object. A small yellow bird was trapped inside. It was desperately banging the armoured window on the northwestern wall and its mate was sitting outside looking in. A rescue operation was set to reunite these two. With gloves and a big towel we were able to gently catch the birdie, which by now had calmed down and was sitting patiently on the window seal. It enjoyed the freedom and flew away, later we could see the couple sitting on the breakwater.
Bye for now
190808 Paint and Rust
Today Märket has shown its best. The weather has been sunny and the mild southwestern breeze has caressed our bodies and minds.
We finalized painting the shower room. There was only little white paint left, but it was just enough to get the both the stripes on the wall and the roof painted. We also took action on repairing the rusted main ladder leading to the lighthouse. It was enough for today to clean and smooth out the metal from the rust that the salty sea water and ice had formed over the years. If the weather is sunny tomorrow, we will continue painting the ladder.
The day was perfect for a picnic on the cliffs during the coffee brake. We also enjoyed supper outside and were amused by the dozens of seals, which were checking out Märket and the surrounding water.
In the evening the excellent visibility allowed us the spot the neighbouring Swedish lighthouses Grundkallen and Understen as well as Sälskär and Högsten day beacon on the Finnish side.
Since the weather has become better, we hope that visitors find their way here during the next days.
Johan & Annukka
200808 In Search of Inner and Outer Depths
A thick fog covered the Märket reef in the morning. One could barely see the other side of the islet. Luckily, the August sun expelled the mist and the day turned out to be warm and sunny. We painted the door of the warehouse with tar, continued repairing the ladder and put some windows in place.
Later, our wishes of getting visitors to the island came true. S/y Eva along with eight passangers, all of who were interested in diving, was looking for shipwrecks in the sea and decided to stop by. They took the tour, bought some souvenirs and sat down for a cup of coffee. Afterwards they went beneath the surface to explore the remainings of 'Hesperius', which stretch from 15 to 50 meters below the surface on the nortwestern edge of Märket. We continued painting and scratching, they moved on to the Swedish cost to discover more shipwrecks. Both are great ways to spend your summer vacation!
What made us interested in Märket in the first place? It is difficult to explain and put it into words. It is a kind of longing for a simple life, even for only a short period. This experience gives us a small glimpse into the past, what life in the lighthouse or at sea might have been like. On the island, one is on the nature’s mercy. On the other hand, the lighthouse offers you and other seafarers protection in case of sudden entropy of the sea. In places like Märket, one accomplishes harmony with nature and the inner self. Hopefully, some of the calmness will follow us when we return to work and the swing of everyday life.
Johan and Annukka
Last night was clear, the full moon spread its light over the islet and the stars appeared for the first time during this visit. Ursa Major, Kassiopeia and Andromeda were in the north. The constellation of Swan in the middle of the Milky Way was especially impressive. It faces south as if it predicted the migration of the birds for the winter. The sign of the Scorpion is still visible in the south but will also soon disappear for the winter.
We continued our daily routines on Märket. The main ladder is now painted, except for every other step. This way we are still able to climb the ladder to the lighthouse. Hopefully it will be dry tomorrow so we can get this job finnished.
It has been partly cloudy today, with occational afternoon showers. In the evening the wind calmed down, so we went for a boat ride around the islet. During the ride grey, rainy clouds approached from the southwest and covered the sun and the light blue sky.
Today there were no visitors on the islet, but a new group of divers came to explore the shipwreck nearby - wonder if they found a treasure. At least we have found a treasure worth preserving on Märket.
Annukka & Johan
220808 Thoughts on the Last Day
Our last day on Märket for now. Tomorrow six new lighthouse keepers will arrive. Today the weather has been excellent, we even gathered enough courage to go for a swim in the sea. This event was, however, made easier by having heated water available in buckets on the shore.
Our week on Märket has felt like a long time, in a positive sense. It has been peaceful and memorable. We have been able to forget all the buzz of everyday life.
Märket has given us a lot, hopefully our contribution to Märket is even half of that.
Johan and Annukka
160808 Exceptional Arrival