Our pioneer group for 2016 met at Käringsund, Eckerö at 7:30 in the morning. Even a tourist from Holland, a gentleman specialising in remote islands, showed up.
A lot of stuff was loaded on the boat of Mats. Then Mats steered the boat to the open sea and towards Märket.
Half an hour later Märket was visible in front of us in perfect weather. It was an emotional moment. Nevertheless no tears were seen on the faces of the first lighthouse crew of this spring – the lighthouse volunteers are tough people.
Because of wave action, landing on the cliffs directly from the boat was not possible. And Mats was not towing any small boat. So the only solution was that Katja and Kimmo jumped into the water in their dry suits. They swam to the lighthouse to get the Märket dinghy for carrying the people and all the food and equipment to the island.
It took nearly an hour to get all the stuff on land. After that the long-awaited morning coffee followed. And for the ladies an obligatory rest in the sun.
Next some work was done: Erkki and Kimmo started looking for the weights of the mooring buoys on the sea bottom. Erkki was scuba diving and Kimmo was the surface assistant on board the inflatable boat. The water was turbid with bad visibility and the weights could not be located on the bottom.
In the evening the lighthouse sauna was heated and especially the women spent a long time bathing in the warmth of that excellent Finnish invention, which brings happiness to the hard-working Finnish people around the globe.
Katja and Outi even had a swim (without wet or dry suits) in the sea, which is really cold in April.
Today’s other observations included a sea eagle on the cliffs and several grey seals swimming in the waters surrounding the lighthouse. The only regrettable thing today was the loss of Mats’ boat anchor 15 minutes after the arrival. He must have made a bad knot… Luckily Mats had a spare anchor on board.
Katja, Laura, Mirka, Outi, Kimmo and Erkki send you warm regards from the exciting lighthouse of Märket.
Sunday morning was cold. Luckily the sun appeared early and started warming up the island and lighthouse.
Around 11 a.m. the underwater search for the mooring weights was continued by Erkki and Kimmo. Today this was done with the help of a gps device. We were not lucky, perhaps because the visibility was only 1,5 to 2 metres on the sea bottom.
Other morning tasks involved carrying sea water for washing the dishes. Katja is very experienced in this. Consequently her water walks look like ballet.
Mirka and Outi worked in the kitchen and dining room keeping the lighthouse crew well fed and happy in every possible way.
Today Laura continued cleaning and organising the shop, which the Finnish Lighthouse Society uses for selling souvenirs and other material which relate to lighthouses.
When Kimmo was back from the search at sea, he and Outi started organising the storage area downstairs. As seen in the image, they worked very hard (at least when the photographer showed up).
As usual all the lighthouse keepers took some moments off to wander around the island. Photography is a very popular recreational activity here – we attempt to see the lighthouse from a new perspective every day. This is likely to stop the aging process of the brain at least during our stay at Märket.
The cliff formations of Märket are spectacular. By studying the cliffs, rocks and stones of the island you can see the results of the erosion caused by the ice age and the winter ice of more recent times.
Monday morning was grey and cold. We even noticed some snow flakes in the air. The scenery visible through the window did not resemble one people in Hawaii are used to.
In spite of the grey weather, Kimmo woke up early and started his day by emptying the dry toilet. We are talking about the favourite task number one at Märket. This time Kimmo won the competition: he was the right man in the right place at the right time, absolutely. After that our gentleman did some adjustment work on the protective cover of the sauna heater. No wonder he was named “Employee of the day”.
Mirka and Katja were active in the kitchen preparing a delicious lunch. Also a very tasty cake was baked in the owen. As it is cold outside, we can eat our stomachs full without worrying about weight increase.
Around noon the weather got sunny. At the same time the wave height increased, and big waves started rolling over Märket from all directions. This is a highly expected display of natural forces on the island, and we were lucky to experience that show today.
The photos show the inundation the waves caused around the lighthouse. The whole crew admired and photographed the waves and water masses surrounding us, while enormous tanker and cargo vessels passed the island peacefully in the horizon.
To end Monday’s story, we tell about the animals of Märket (birds and waterfowl are not included this time). This is a story about David and Goliath. As Märket is an island of strong contrasts, this applies also to the animal kingdom. We have seen only two animals here. They are represented by the final images: today’s ant and yesterday’s grey seal.
During the photography, no size-based discrimination took place, and both animals were given equal opportunity to appear in a photo with the lighthouse in the background.
Katja, Laura, Mirka, Outi, Kimmo and Erkki will be back on this same channel tomorrow. Thanks for watching.
Days go by very quickly at Märket. The activities often include the same old routines. One example is the drying of wet clothes. Yesterday both Mirka and Katja got cold sea water in their boots. While checking the status of her clothes, Mirka seems to be dreaming of warmer places with dolphins jumping in the sea. At least her towel gives that impression.
Today Kimmo continued adjustment work on the sauna heater. He has been an important person in the construction of the new sauna since 2014. The sauna functions well already but there is still room for minor improvements.
Katja and Outi completed the organisation of the storage area downstairs today. As a result, things can be found easily when the next crews arrive at Märket in May and in the summer.
On this Tuesday, Laura carried dry firewood to the living area of the lighthouse. The spring is cold, and firewood is needed for the heating of the buildings.
At some point Mirka did her daily exercise and looked joyful while wandering on the cliffs. Meanwhile, Kimmo and Erkki got prepared for another search of the mooring weights. The search was successful. In the afternoon two mooring buoys were attached by chain to the bottom weights. Now Märket is ready to receive visiting boats.
Wednesday morning was windy at Märket. Big waves were hitting the island from all directions. They even collided with each other, which led to a lot of spray in the air.
In the past, hard conditions outside were accompanied by simple living conditions inside the Märket buildings. The second photo from our museum room shows how it was like to live here in the past.
Today’s special tasks included some related to fire preparedness. A handle to help in emergency escapes through the window was installed in the room of the third floor. This is something required by the fire and rescue authorities.
Also Katja and Mirka did their part in the fire preparedness tasks. They tested the simple fire extinguishers of the lighthouse. The women managed to turn the task into a friendly water duel. Mirka got wet again (this is becoming a daily habit – just the reasons vary). She accused Katja of unfair play which Katja did not admit.
In the afternoon Kimmo controlled the functioning of the drainage pipes of the space where the navigation light of Märket is located. As seen in the last picture, the light is just a strong bulb nowadays. The days of the traditional rotating beam belong to the past.
At 4.30 p.m. the weather at Märket became sunny again. This island is like a ship navigating on the ocean, where constant weather changes are the norm.
Thursday of course included the normal lighthouse routines. Luckily, that was not all.
The most special highlight of the day was a trip to the near-by Märketshällar reef, of which about 30 by 100 metres stay above sea-level during normal weather conditions.
The first group to visit Märketshällar by our dinghy included Laura, Mirka and Erkki. Katja, Outi and Kimmo took the boat to the reef when the first group was back.
In the crevices of Märketshällar we found the remains of five dead seal pups. Upon arrival, our second group also saw two sea eagles preying on the dead grey seals.
The discoveries by Mirka on Märketshällar included the skull of a young seal. Mirka thought that the teeth looked impressive.
When the second group was returning to the lighthouse, a picture was taken with the dinghy close to shore and our new mooring buoys in the background.
In case you are interested, the coordinates of the buoys are the following:
For the buoy anchored at 6 metres of water, the gps coordinates are 60 degrees 17.928 N and 019 degrees 07.965 E.
For the buoy anchored at 4.5 metres of water, the gps coordinates are 60 degrees 17.941 N and 019 degrees 07.941 E (the final three numbers are 941 in both cases – this is not an error in the text).
In the last photo, the lighthouse can be seen in idyllic afternoon light. In the foreground, underwater vegetation of a rock pool can be observed.
Today’s first highlight appeared before 6 a.m. when Erkki spotted a seal pup ten metres from the lighthouse stairs. A grey seal, which was hardly one metre long, was sleeping on the cliffs close to the shoreline. When the photo was taken, there was only little daylight and the wind was strong.
The next photographic task was to record the sunrise. As usual at Märket, the colours of the sky were beautiful when the sun appeared.
As the flag of the Finnish Lighthouse Society shows, the wind was blowing hard the whole day. According to the weather reports, its strength was between 12 and 14 m/s from morning to evening.
In spite of the strong wind, the lighthouse crew was able to encounter a sheltered spot for the afternoon rest. To have this opportunity after all the cooking, repairing, maintenance, cleaning and organising was a nice opportunity.
The weather during this week at Märket has mostly been so cold that the natural swimming pools of the island have not been used. Nevertheless, even during cold weather they are a pleasure to the eye.
Probably because of the strong winds, observations of the migratory birds have been fewer than usual at Märket during our lighthouse week. Those species we have seen include the common ringed plover (tylli in the Finnish language).
The early morning was cold and windy. In spite of that, the view towards the East before 5 a.m. was beautiful. The sky was turning red already, although it was not time for sunrise yet. It was so early, that the navigation light of Märket kept functioning.
In the South-East, the moon was still visible close to the horizon and its craters could be observed through the camera’s telephoto lens.
The third photo is an early wide angle view towards the South. There the moon can be seen above the open sea.
When the moon had disappeared below the horizon and the sun risen, the view towards the South became different with fog on the sea’s surface. This can be observed in the fourth image.
Around 10.30 a.m. the weather changed again. There was hardly any wind blowing and the sea turned calm. Even the air temperature rose to pleasant levels. We seemed to be getting a perfect weather for the 1st of May celebrations, which we were planning to start during Saturday night.
A panoramic image shows what the southern side of Märket looked like at noon. The picture was taken from the top of the lighthouse. The windows surrounding the navigation light are clean, because they have been cleaned from the outside by our crew.
May will begin tomorrow, and this group of voluntary lighthouse keepers will be replaced by another crew on Sunday morning. We will be missing this island and will remember for example the spectacular sunsets like the one which was photographed last night.
Katja, Laura, Mirka, Outi, Kimmo and Erkki are grateful that you have shared this week with us. – Even today we are interested in the number of English-speaking people reading the daily lighthouse news. In case you are a person who needs and prefers English as the language of communication from Märket, kindly send a message to the secretary of the Finnish Lighthouse Society at majakkasihteeri a majakkaseura.fi and tell us briefly about your interest.