Early in Saturday morning the new M ärket crew arrived to Eckerö´s beautiful harbour: Pasi, Henri, Marcus, Risto and the first-timers Liisa, Kari and Eevakaisa. After some hectic packing moments the sleepy harbour left behind us as we headed to our goal, Märket.
An enormous amount of food needed to be packed to the boat – more than usually because the crew was bigger this week. Usually the crew consists 4-5 people but now we had 7 hungry volunteers to feed every day! Also water tanks needed to be filled before leaving the mainland.
Our boatman Mats drove us efficiently and safely to our destination. On our way to Märket we drove also near a small cliff where the seals usually dwell enjoying the sunshine and salty sea wind, but unfortunately the cliffs were empty this time. Because the wind was from the North, we couldn't land on the northern side of the islet. So we connected the boat in the buoy and waited for the last week's group to fetch us to the lighthouse with a rubber boat.
Because we had some difficulties to find a safe way to land the boat, the crew change had to happen very fast as last week's volunteers were hurrying to their ferries to get back home. So we didn't have time for a nice coffee break, all the essential info was changed rapidly in the boat, and then - off they went, and the new crew was on Märket!
Some of us woke as early as 04:00 when Viking ferry arrived to Maarianhamina. And because the terminal had no cafeteria or even one coffee machine, it was high time to sit down and have a late beakfast. After it we had the safety walk, during which we newcomers learned how to live here so that a minimal amout of accidents happen.
Guests! Two paddlers, Olli and Jaakko had arrived already in the morning from Eckerö and left the island late in the afternoon. We got also two more groups: John och Jan Nyström from Sweden and Peter Karlsson from Åland.
The first day is always learning and getting used to new environment. In the evening, when the sun set down and sent some spectacular wievs over the western sea, we warmed up the sauna and some of us enloyed an evening swim in the sea or the lagoon. Good night from Märket!
Sunday morning was as sunny as yesterday, and soon after breakfast we noticed a seal landed on a small cliff nearby. We noticed that he wasn't well: the poor creature had something yellow wrapped around his neck. Was it some kind of plastics or a piece of fishnet covered with seaweed – we didn't see clearly enough because of the distance. The seal layed on the cliff all day long, but luckily he got some company later in the evening when another seal arrived.
As it was Sunday in July, we were expecting to get some visitors here on Märket. During the mid-day hours two boats came closer (one of them being a trimaran which you don't see too often!), but the wind was harsh, so both of the boats decided to turn away. The day went on doing small reparations and maintaining works.
Risto and Pasi finished the painting of the flag pole, a job which the last week's group started. The paint dries fast in this windy and sunny place, so we can soon lift the Lighhouse Society's flag up again!
Sea climate makes everyone hungry. Our chef Kari cooked a big kettle full of rich and tasty vegetable soap for lunch. The chef's task is demanding, because he has to create tasty and healthy food for hungry volunteer group twice a day, at reasonable prices, but our Kari is a trained and educated chef who manages his field very well.
Here it is! Carrots, celery, leek, parsnip, potatoes... The soap was hot and nourishing, and after lunch it was nice to continue the works for a hot summer day.
If you want to swim on Märket, you can of course go to the sea, but it isn't always so easy to get back from the sea on the slippery cliffs. So, the perfect solution is our secret Blue Lagoon, in which the water warms up with natural solar energy, and it feels as cosy as if you would be home in your bathroom tube. Some of us refreshed themselves today in the lagoon. The beautiful Sunday slowly turned towards the evening, and so was our second day in Märket over.
Today it called Jaakko's day and according to a Finnish tradition ”Jaakko throws a cold stone into the lake¨. The proverb means that waters are getting colder after this day. We hope and believe that it won't happen here in Märket, but maybe a small part of it's true because the day began with a thick mist. However we got already in the morning three paddling Czech visitors from Åland.
Soon after the paddlers continued to Sweden, we had more guests! Ellinor, Niklas, Patrik och Louise came from Sweden by their boat Elvira. Some of them were already familiar with Swedish lighthouses by their work, but Märket was a new experience for them. After a tour and a cup of coffee they started their way back to Sweden.
The fog stayed over the island until afternoon. We had many guests today, and also some maintaining work had to be done. Pasi and Risto tried to lift up the newly painted flag pole, but soon we saw again another boat arriving.
With this group we got the first animal visitors of the week. Tiina, Pihla and Martti from Naantali came by Romlady II boat with their chihuahua dogs called Dani and Helmi.
And soon after that a sailing boat appeared. A busy day, indeed! Because of the wind the boat didn't land, but ancored on sea. Olli, Onni and Hertta came here by a rubber boat, while the rest of the crew stayed in the sailing boat.
Because of this busy day we ate lunch late in the afternoon. Right after we finished the lunch, a boat arrived again. It was Elviina from Maarianhamina, and it brought here visitors Virpi, Kari, Jussi and Merja. They were spending the last days of their summer holiday on the sea and enjoing the views. What a good way to spend summer days!
In the afternoon the fog disappeared and a beautiful sunshine warmed us again. After this nice and busy day it felt good to just sit on a balcony, let our eyes rest on the sea view and relax. Tomorrow for sure we will get more visitors!
Tuesday morning was again sunny and the first task of the day was to lift up the painted flag pole, at last. Pasi, Henri and Marcus did the job, and so we have again the Lighthouse Society's flag flowing in the air.
And more lifting work ahead! Radio amateurs had built a new and more efficient antenna, and it had to be put in its place on the rooftop. It's a task which has to be planned carefully and almost everybody was participating to help in the job.
Henri's nerves must be iron-made! He worked coolly and efficiently in the heights and did also the intelligent part of the job with his lifelong experience on electronics.
By noon we got also guests: a group, whose seven members came partly from Maarianhamn, partly from Sweden. After a nice tour we sat comfortably in the dining room and had a cup of ”Ålandskaffe” (= coffee with a twist of cardamom and cinnamon) and delicious bunnies.
Our other visitors had arrived already yesterday. They were a group of Lighthouse Society members and shipwreck divers, who spent the morning by investigating a sinken wreck of Hesperus, a British steamboat grounded near Märket in 1884.
Everybody have surely heard about Angry birds game, haven't you? Well, we indeed have such ones here in Märket. Fetching the water for dishwashing is best to do with a helmet on your head, because the angry terns make such scary kamikaze-looking curves over and around our heads. Here is shown our chef Kari, who bravely does this dangerous job!
New morning has broken – and sunny again! On the mainland people are suffering from exhaustingly hot days, but here on the open sea we always have cooling breezes to make us feel fresh. In the mornings everyone of us feel tempted to take a little break just to let the eyes to rest on the wide open horizon and breathe deeply the smell of the sea before days' hustle and bustle.
On Wednesday we began a big cleaning project. Near our magasin house there's a messy waterpool: lots of wasted building material has been thrown into it. Of course the pool isn't right place for them, so we began to remove it away and make that spot of the islet clean and tidy. In the picture you can see how it looked before.
Carrying stones and other material isn't the lightest work you can do on a sunny summer day!
The heavy work was stopped when Buster LX ”Saga” arrived: Kerstin och Per-Olof from Grissleham, Sweden, came to see the lighthouse.
And later in the day we got a larger group as 9 visitors came at one time! The participant were partly Finnish and Swedish: Harry, Gunilla, Pierre, Ralf, Leo, Davilda, Mikko, Ulla and Pentti had the guided tour and afterwards a cup of coffee and a nice chat - ”Fika”, as the term goes in Swedish.
On our isolated small rocky islet it's always a happening when someone sees a rare plant or an animal. Here the artistic beauty of a nature was captured by Risto who found a European peacock butterfly (neitoperhonen). In the summer our island is full of tiny, unknown midges, but the butterflies are quite rare to see.
Knock knock, who's there? Marcus got a curious guest in his window, when this small ghostlike falcon youngster peeped in. Living here in the middle of bare and wild nature gives us new experiences every day!
The word ”safety” illustrates this Thursday better than well. Right after the breakfast we all excercised to use our rubber boat handling. It's an essential skill here, where all kind of help is far away!
We cleaned and carried stones again from the pool as earlier. Babies are always sweet and so was this nearby tiny babybird of ”common ringed plover” (Charadrius hiaticula) which was making its way on the cliffs.
And here's one of the older generation sea bird. Look, what a determined way to walk, or it this dancing?
The safety theme continued strongly later in the afternoon when a sailing boat arrived here with a broken mast. They made a emergency arrival for shelter in Märket. Originally this Scouts boat was heading to a camp in Bomarsund with ten teenagers and their olders. Fortunately Märket was close by and could offer them help and a shelter overnight. The group sleeps inside the lighthouse safely and plans to leave early in the morning.
When there is a group of teens, there's always a strong appetite. A big pile of meatballs and pasta vanished in just a couple of minutes. No-one expects this kind of a havoc to happen, but everything is easier to handle when stomachs are full and there's a warm shelter where to sleep!
The reason for the ship's damage was probably the hard wind, which was at its strongest around 11 m/sec today. Let's hope it calms down by tomorrow morning, when they'll head back to Sweden – using their motor of course. What a special thing this was to be as a ”real” lighthouse keeper helping a boat in havoc for a one day!
Märket crew's last whole day began again with a lovely sunshine. The overnight scout friends left early and we hope their trip eventually got a better end! They thanked us with nice steaks which we are going to put in grill later. Today we had our first guests before lunchtime: a group of seven visitors arrived to spend a day off their daily work.
The last day on Märket is always busy, but it's never too busy to welcome guests! Soon after the first boat got off, another boat arrived to the northern side of the island. Georg and Moa from Helsinki arrived by their boat Havsmoan.
These are the moments which we do remember in November, when the days are short and the streets are covered with wet snow! Sunny air and summer breeze on your skin. Pasi and Kari are having a well-earned break on the cliffs.
We took out stones and tiles from a pool during the week and some of them we arranged first as a miniatyre Märket lighthouse. This primitive stone formation would enrich any museum collection for sure.
Later we needed an oven to burn waste material, so we had to put the tiles and stones in good use.
And now, dear readers, it's time to say goodbye! Tomorrow a new group will arrive here and we're quite sure that many of us will come back here some day.