230910 A New Star in the Dark
Yesterday´s arrival here was exciting for a newcomer (yes, we are here both for the first time). Mats drove us first to the buoy and then nearer to old harbour. Pasi rowed the dingle from the harbour half way, took the other of us to the lighthouse, showed places and then we rowed him to Mats´ boat. Great ten days job Pasi did!
Raimo rowed back to harbour in the darkening evening and was stuck on the underneath cliff in the harbour! No problem!
We started our shift by putting fire to the fireplaces and looking around the places. Then a good long sleep!
The view was new for us in the morning. We moved the dishwash place a bit, put fire to get hot water, made lunch and cleaned places. The Swedish navy then offered us a nice show when they manouvered two war ships in front of Märket somewhere halfway to Understen. Maybe that was part of the international training operation they had near Pori, Finland.
Fishing was impossible, so we have to wait or the coming days. SW wind was maybe 10 m/s. Cloudy, 13 degrees.
Rest of the day we had to fight with the IT, that means the internet connection. It just didn´t work, but we are hopeful that we can get even todays photos to internet, so wait for that.
We didn´t see any humans today, but some very small birds let us very close. The only seals we saw were some 30 ones Mats showed us yesterday on Norra Sankan on the way here.
Raimo and Ari
240910 Foggy Day
The day started with a heavy fog, turned sunny and again foggy in the evening.
The sun warmed the air so much that we went swimming. The water was a bit cool. It is a pity there is no sauna on the island. In the summer there was a tentsauna. Not a good sauna but a sauna anyway. Now there is nothing. All the crews on Märket hope that the Lighthouse Society will soon have a chance to build a sauna there.
Today we'll introduce one of the two men: Ari. Tomorrow will be Raimo's turn. Ari is from Kotka and works in a paper mill. The times for paper industry are not the best at the moment and Ari is happy to have a peaceful time to reflect on his future. He is not a boy anymore and it may happen that soon he'll have even more time to visit lighthouses. Ari is a very fresh member of the Lighthouse Society though he has been interested in lighthouses for a long time though. He lives by the sea and thus lighthouses are in a way a part of his life. For him being on Märket now is more a lucky coincidence than something he had planned. Ari likes paddling and thinks that it would be fine one time to paddle from mainland to Märket and all the way to Sweden.
Today we have disassembled the scaffoldings - the winter is coming! - warmed the chambers - and succeeded at least with the kitchen - cleaned inside the lighthouse - an endless task. There has not been any visitors, neither have they see any war ships or champagne divers. The weather is so misty that there will not be any sunset to see either. There has been problems with the internet today too, but luckily enough we have a radio.
Ari and Raimo
250910 Fog and Storm
Today has been rather a warm but foggy day. And a storm rose in the afternoon. A photogenic storm – we went out to take new pictures – the ones taken earlier are far too tame! You'll see today or tomorrow whether we got good storm pictures. Otherwise the weather has been warm and so is the lighthouse. The stoves work well and keep the warmth well for 24 hours.
Raimo – the second man – has worked as a sailor and at the dock. Now he is retired already for 10 years – due to the early retirement age is his field. This is his for the first time on Märket but he has passed the island several times as a sailor and knew it well. He has earlier visited other lighthouses: Bengtskär, Orrengrund and the lighthouses near Kotka. He – like Ari - lives in Kotka.
Kotka is actually a bird: the eagle, and today we have met several birds. There are a few hömötiainen (Parus montanus), very small birds which want to come in the lighthouse – to catch the insects caught in spider webs. There is also a group of about 10 larger migratory birds, rantasipi (Actitis hypoleucos) which has stopped at the island to rest maybe because of the weather. Maybe because this is where they rest every year on their way to the south.
Today we have disassembled the scaffolds by the stone wall and reassembled the scaffolds we disassembled yesterday. That's only because we are too efficient. But after assembling the scaffolds we did some plastering before the storm started.
Raimo is the one who is in charge of the kitchen. He praises the professional standard gas stove and prepared today chicken breasts, rice and curry sauce. There are so many chicken breasts that we can eat them also tomorrow.
Ari and Raimo
260910 Sun and Wind
Today has been a sunny day but the wind has been rather brisk. 12-15 meters in second according to the radio's weather report. The wind has been so brisk that it has been hard to stand up and hard even to take photos. We could work only on one side of the building and did some plastering again.
Inside we have organized the storage space at the first floor. There are construction materials, tools and equipment mixed with empty water tanks and recyclable waste of various kinds. Recycling - as important as it is - is not easy on an island. The boats that bring people here are neither good nor willing to take large amounts of waste to the mainland. Thus more and more waste piles up in the storage space. Finding tools and materials becomes harder and harder. We tried today to organize the space and sincerely hope that during the winter there will be some larger boat to collect all the recyclables.
Birdwise we have seen today more common sandpiper and also a few wagtails. And we also saw one sailing boat struggling in the wind - with one sail.
Struggling with nature's powers is our passion too. We have paddled for ages - Raimo for at least 50 years and Ari a little shorter time. We paddle with all kinds of canoes and in all kinds of waters. Raimo owns several canoes and the canoeing society owns even more which we can borrow anytime. Last year we went to paddle on Lake Ladoga in Russia. It is a large lake - rather a sea. But very few boats or canoes. We paddled for one week, sleeping in tents are preparing our food on open fire. It was quite an experience and the scenery is gorgeous especially near the former Finnish city of Sortavala.
Lapland is our second madness. There we go every year trekking, paddling in the summer and skiing in the winter. Usually we stay some time in Kuusamo in the Paper worker's cottage and make shorter paddling trips in the rivers and lakes around. Our winter destination is Kilpisjärvi region, where we go skiing at the beginning of May - there is still lots of snow at that time. The region with fells and lakes is a very beautiful part of Lapland and becomes even more impressive when passing the border to Norway and to the Ice Sea.
This deserted lighthouse island and Lapland have something in common: peace, nature and large views.
Ari and Raimo
270910 May the Wind Be Gentle
We have enjoyed another sunny and windy day. And very special kind of waves. Every day here is different. Neither the sky nor the sea is ever the same. But they are always a pleasure to watch. And to take photos. We both take eagerly pictures and Raimo has also a videocam. We have taken so far about 500 pics. Not all are good but there are some quite successful too. We take mostly landscapes or rather seascapes. We have not managed yet to get good sunsets. We have had full moon and clear nights but the moon is bit too challenging for an amateur photographer.
Besides shooting photos we have plastered one piece of the wall - the length of the scaffolds. It is tedious work but we proceed little by little. And it is good that the weather permits us to do it - it could as well rain all the time and that's no plastering conditions. We have also cleaned the engine room. There are several quite good looking engines probably from the sixties which seem to be almost unused. We wonder what the plans are for these engines. They look very tempting but - to be honest - we don't know what to do with them.
We have by now become quite domesticated. The daily chores - fetching firewood, heating water and the rooms, preparing meals and washing dishes - take a large part of the daylight time. And then there is the construction work to be carried out. But there is no stress, no rush and it feels more like rest - at least for the nerves! Most of the day we are outside which gives a huge appetite. Today we eat the ground meat steak Ari's wife had prepared for us and tomorrow we'll make a casserole of ground meat and potatoes.
Today we saw only a few boats. No birds and no seals either. Which we have missed. The internet as well as the cellphone connection is variable. And there is no tele to watch! Which we have not missed at all.
Ari and Raimo
280910 Wind Blows and Time Runs
It is strange how quickly the time runs here. The days become shorter and shorter. In the morning we wake up, drink coffee and start to work outside at 9 o'clock. We have short pauses for meals and suddenly it is evening and the sun sets. (Today the sunset is good one!) Also the number of days left is smaller and smaller. It is not very many days ago we came here and now there are only three working days left. Our friends wonder whether we are bored here. But that's is not the case.
Our friends also asked how we were accepted here. Raimo has "applied" twice until he succeeded and for Ari the chance came without any effort. At the summer there is - of course - more demand. Then more people can offer one whole week of their holidays to the lighthouse.
As we heard at the beginning of the restauration work, four years ago, it was hard to get enough voluntary workers. Now the word about the project and the camps has spread. During the hot season there is almost more people wanting to participate than there is 'vacancies'. The lighthouse can accommodate only about 10 persons at the time.
Access to this labour camp is still possible for anyone willing and capable. If you are interested you must contact the Lighthouse Society already in the winter. If you speak Finnish or Swedish you should join the Society! Then you get in your email information about the coming camps as well as all the other activities of the Society.
In the autumn and spring there is less volutaries. They are however not the best seasons for first-timers. Living in the lighthouse and the restauration work is not simple. It helps if at least one of the crew has earlier experience. It is true that neither of us has been here earlier, but we are exceptional men - in many ways.
Ari and Raimo
290910 Strangers from the Outer Space
Today has been an exciting day. The Finnish Meteorological Institute visited us. They have here a weather station which of course has to be maintained regularly. They came on a helicopter: we - of course - have a helicopter ground. They also did some training: e.g. dropped two men in the water and then rescued them. A lot to see!
We did some plastering too but run out of plaster. Tomorrow a boat will come and bring us 1,700 kg cement for the great stone wall. The upper side of the wall is covered with concrete. But not yet because the cement had run out. First we have to haul the cement in the storage with wheelbarrow. Then we hope to be able to restart the casting. On Saturday a new crew of three men will arrive and maybe they will finish it - before winter.
This restoration is not only about work it is also about materials. In an old, protected building like this you have use traditional materials and techniques. The natural circumstances here are so harsh that everything has to be first class. The amount of materials needed is huge. Anybody who has visited a hardware store knows how much everything costs. Especially the 5 screws packed well in plastic and cardboard! The closest hardware store is about 30 kilometres and/ or 6 hours away - and we don't have a boat. So the transportation is also a problem and an expense.
We viewed the pictures of the blog from the year 2007. If it sometimes feels that the progress is too slow the pictures proved us how much has already been achieved. Most of the workers have been voluntary and thus quite cheap for the Lighthouse society. But the materials have the same price for all. How does the Society finance this restoration? Partly by selling Lighthouse calendars with gorgeous pictures of Finland's lighthouses. It is absolutely worth buying. Not only because of the pictures but also because it helps to restore this magnificent lighthouse!
Ari and Raimo
300910 Great Expectations
Today we were supposed to get more materials. But when the sun raised – a beautiful sunrise by the way, and a sunny day all the way – it turned out that the water level was too low, it was still too windy and the rocks in the harbour were moist and thus too slippery. So the transportation had to be postponed. We are looking forward to getting the materials tomorrow.
That meant that today was an easy day for us. We completed some tasks we had started earlier. Like cleaning the rainwater tanks and gutter pipes. It's OK to have a day off once a week. We both – as most of the volunteers here – like to work. And we like even more to work together with others like us. Even hard and tedious work is fun when you work together. All the jokes, all the tricks, all the ideas and all the results - so much more than doing it alone!
Today we have not seen many other living creatures. There are some small birds which try to – and also manage – to stay in the lighthouse during the night. They should be migrating by now but obviously the warmth inside misleads them. We also saw some seals but did not get any pictures of them. Today we visited the cellar which one crew earlier has emptied. We thought it would make a fine wine cellar! Which lead us to have some red wine with our dinner – you have to enjoy the life while you are alive!
Tomorrow will probably be our liveliest day here. We are expecting the transportation but there will also be a team from Finnish MTV3. (We went swimming today in the laguna to look good in tele!) In the summer there was a group from the French TV2 and that program was already shown some weeks ago. And it was good program even if you did not understand French. Let's see what MTV3 gets out us and this paradise! Tomorrow you'll learn how our TV-career started.
Ari and Raimo
011010 Farewell Märket
Today was our last working day on Märket and the absolutely most social day. The transportation came before noon and almost at the same time came MTV3 shooting group. And later came men from Finnish Maritime Administration to check whether the light is working. It is working – we could have told that. But maybe they also have to do some maintenance before rasputitsa and winter. We for our part have been carrying cement for hours and we think that our arms are least 15 cm longer now.
Today we also had animal company. Some seals spend time on the island and let us – and also the TV group - take photos. They were really posing, smiling and yawning for us. We felt that they wanted to thank us for our work. It looked that the seals 'had been home during meals'. They were rather fat but that is of course good for the coming winter.
Thinking back these days and trying to point out the best moments we get two of them. One was the storm. It lasted 4 days but it was different every day and even at different times of one day. And the second is the nice weather we have now enjoyed for two days. Today we found a thermometer and we can report that the water is 12 centigrade and at lunchtime it air was 20 centigrade.
Tomorrow there will come a new crew of three men and we'll leave in the afternoon. But we'll certainly return here some other time.
Ari and Raimo
230910 A New Star in the Dark