Sunday 19.8.2007 - Special guest star of the Lighthouse Day
The International Lighthouse Day has gathered lighthouse enthusiasts on lighthouse islands on several spots around Finland.
On the lighthouse boat Relandersgrund in Helsinki weather was beautiful and lemon cake delicious. This is what was happening on the Märket reef North Western side of Åland.
As this was the International Lighthouse Day (and as the weatherman was in our gang!), also Märket received many visitors. The numbers were maybe not quite as impressive as on some other lighthouses, but the quality even more so!
Märket saw true lighthouse lovers on the year's most important day.
The first group arrived at 10 am and consisted of ten visitors from Åland along with the first two members of our new crew.
Nowhere does the coffee taste better.
These visitors were true lighthouse lovers, and the lighthouse keepers also received their share. Even as we live in plenty here, we were very touched by the kindness of these people when they left us a gift consisting of all kinds of food (homebaked bread, homemade juice, eggs, to name just a few) and other useful stuff.
Nice outfit, hope the fashion will catch on!
Towards the afternoon the wind woke up, but no more than what was needed to guarantee a fascinating journey to the other group of visitors and the remaining two members of the crew.
In this group, we received enthusiasts from all around the country, for example Kuopio, Tampere, Porvoo, Helsinki and Åland.
The old lavatory rises many thoughts on the quality of life before our times.
As a Lighthouse Day special extra bonus we also had the living legend of Märket, one of the last TRUE lighthouse keepers KEE Eriksson visiting and making people laugh with his stories about life on the reef back in the days.
Goodbye KEE, thank you for everything!
It's truly valuable to hear all that from somebody who has really lived it all we can read and reconstruct from the signs the time has left here.
The visitors left by 7 pm, and the new crew spent the evening getting to know every corner of our new home and homeland (and neighbouring Sweden of course).
We also got to know the radio amateurs who were hilarious and at least claimed having won the competition. Congratulations!
The lucky winners of the radio competition: Tapio, Simo and Pasi.
Most of us went to bed early eager to see the sunset next morning, but the author (luckily responsible for closing the pass way to the top) found herself sitting by the light and among all these stars until midnight and feeling nothing enormous, nothing upsetting, but quite simply strongly being there and that was just as it should be.
See you tomorrow!
Anna Emilia, Maija, Nina & Sari
These are the farewells of the passing crew, Laura and Marko:
Laura and Marko.
After our great almost once-in-a-lifetime experience earlier this week, when we slept outdoors under the stars, we thought it would be nice to do it again.
The stars were there and also something we, at first, thought was aurora borealis. However, we then realized that the natural phenomenon was thin clouds still colourful after the sunset.
There was also wind, which has calmed a lot since the past few days, but blew still so strong that after trying to fall asleep we both were a bit cold and decided to go back in the tent.
We had a busy morning packing our stuff and preparing to welcome our following lighthouse guard crew and two groups of tourists.
We feel a little sad to go back home and leave this marvellous place just after getting used to being here. But, as it is been said, you have to leave so you can come back again.
We want to thank the Finnish Lighthouse Society for giving us this excellent opportunity to spend a week here. Keep up the good work!
Monday 20.8.2007 - Living slowly in the middle of the sea
First entire day on Märket. The reef has done its best to show that, contrary to what the Finnish Lighthouses -book tells, it is possible, sometimes even easy and just pleasant, to live on it.
The lighthouse has taken its new guards into his arms.
Our new friends the radio amateurs left this morning after a successful competition last night. Those guys never sleep, it seems!
We promised to say hello to them every day, and here we go: Hello boys! It was great meeting you! Au revoir et bonne chance!
Even though we had such a great company here, it felt just wonderful when everybody left and we were left alone in the middle of this sea.
Maija, Anna Emilia, Nina and Sari.
Consequently, it seems the crew started the shift with a holiday. We lived this day slowly and mostly outside breathing the wind, bathing in the august sun.
There were no visitors, so we did what was necessary for living, got started with the windows and doors project for our part and then just enjoyed this fantastic day far away from nearly everything.
Maija is the official fireplace master of Märket reef this week.
What hit me today is that all is so wisely organized here and the renovation work inside the lighthouse seems to have advanced so well, that we cannot but admire our precedents here (and, of course as days go by, hopefully join the group...)
One would not believe all this has happened in one summer. Everything's so beautiful when cleaned from the worst dirt but the layers of time still visible and walls telling stories. Hello everybody, great job! You are our heroes!
Nina fishing the ämpäri, the bucket, the endemic species on Märket.
Then the weather statement: wind has turned and blows almost directly from the sSuth (7 m/s approximately). The clouds may promise some rain, and it has got a bit colder so we will have dinner inside. It's actually time for that, so we'll quit for today.
Good night, sleep well and come to visit us!
Tuesday 21.8.2007 - What shall we do if the light goes out?
That's one of the very important questions that we discussed last night as we sat in our rocky garden and velvety, humming night fell over Märket.
From time to time our laughs cut the silence clear and loud, and it felt a bit uncomfortable, as if we were waking up whole of the Baltic Sea. What a relief to remember there's probably not so many sleeping around...
... or is there?
That blue fellow still goes unrecognized, and she was only a beginning to a continuing row of surprise guests of the day in this nature lover’s paradise.
The main ornitologist Sari chasing the living and the dead.
Living. This very rare species has a narrow niche; it only lives in the machine rooms of the abandoned lighthouses.
Dead. Flying home for tonight?
Apart from these rarities we've also met some far more ordinary species in the course of the day, such as seals, white-tailed eagles and mermaids. Human beings have kept themselves out of sight.
In addition to that valuable research, we have also done some honest work renovating windows. I just love it! When I grow up I'll be a lighthouse renovator!
(Ok, ordinary houses will have to do in the lack of lighthouses – let's hope they'll all be properly renovated by then.)
Sari and AE painting windows.
As you may guess, we are all very happy to be here, but there is something that is difficult to describe or explain. Quoting Maija after her morning dip in the green lagoon: "I do not have any words to what I am feeling right now".
My version of the same is that I find myself again and again on the top of the lighthouse, God only knows why, but feeling belonging there. Or, maybe having been born there, as a friend suggested.
Later on the day:
It seems somebody reads our blog! After two day's claimed lack of visitors, we now have some brave sailors approaching the reef...
The first boat we see, and – not true! – it really seems to be approaching!
It's impossible to get ashore from the Eastern side today with the wind blowing from North East, so the boat, s/y Santa Cecilia, got anchored to the Southern end.
The two sailors, Teppo Innola from Pyhäranta and Antero Luukkonen from Rauma, took their own rubber boat to get to the land.
Teppo and Antero getting ashore, Sari wishes the visitors welcome.
The sailors have been having a real lighthouses tour and now arrived from Isokari. They are both very experienced sailors, Antero being an ancient coast guard and Teppo has sailed since he built himself his first boat as a little kid.
Both also knew a whole lot of the history of lighthouses but had not visited Märket before. And yes, they had followed our blog!
The sailors made the lighthouse guards' day by paying a visit.
Maija guided the guests around the reef, and no one would have believed it was the first time. We really suggest she follows her dream to study to be a teacher!
Maija, lighthouse guide born-to-be in the machine room.
After a while and some more interesting stories the brave sailors sailed further. Thank you for visiting and welcome again!
I've seen people write "Märket over and out", and I must admit I have no idea what that refers to, but it sounds just great so here we go, Märket over and out.
(From the webmaster: the phrase refers to radio language and, on the Märket case, to the radio amateurs which have made Märket its own country by giving it a land code.)
Anna Emilia, on behalf of the crew Maija, Nina & Sari
Wednesday 22.8.2007 - Quite a few words about sweet nothing
Nothing happened today. Came morning, noon and night, just as usual, still every moment was endless and again nothing happened and it was all so good.
This brings me to ask if the ancient lighthouse keepers were happy when nothing happened or were their days too long. Or really were there days when nothing happened?
Of course there would be millions of things one could fix here and which absolutely should be fixed too, but not actually being professional lighthouse fixers yet we must be careful I believe...
Meanwhile, it's maintaining work that counts. Besides our own batteries, we've charged a whole load of devices like this mini-computer I write the blog with, cameras, telephones and other stuff that our precedents back in time did not have to take care of, not to mention using them, quoting Sari, "23 hours a day" (Who? Me?). Maybe they still had days when nothing happened...
Nina, Sari and the Märket power plant. Please notice we do follow the instructions!
While eating canned fish we also got to think once again the amount of waste we people nowadays produce. The lighthouse has an excellent recycling station (Thank you whoever put it there! You too are my hero!) and it's not so packed one could expect, but all that crap still takes place...
This neither was a problem in the old days, but there are many sides to it. It was so very easy to throw everything in the sea. Even the toilet here was flushing before such a thing even existed!
Sari minimizing waste. "Crushed tomatoes can is easiest, pea soup gets rotten fastest". We hope niksi-Pirkka is online.
Having all the batteries charged and nothing but time we have spent some quality time with our cameras. Follows Märket from Ninas and Maijas viewpoint:
Even though there are no hills on the reef Nina has found a valley!
Maija is fascinated by the shop window and especially the bottle that changes colour as the Sun traverses the sky. Five o' clock looks like this.
And then, last but not least. If nothing happened today, the same cannot be said about last night. The weirdest things continue to take place on Märket.
As Nina woke up, she told she had been hearing voices. As if somebody had been lost and crying for somebody. And then we noticed this somebody had found what he was looking for...
Kiss from THE ghost?
Sleep well! Now that I know what it means I happily say it again: Märket over and out.
Anna Emilia & the crew
Thursday 23.8.2007 - Märket runt
The moment I'm writing this, the wind is about to change direction and blows suddenly from the South. The sky is getting a bit cloudy, which seems absolutely promising.
We have been lucky to enjoy the most beautiful summer week here with clear skies, sun and wind blowing rather mildly from North East. Now we actually hope to get something a bit more harsh, but seemigly in vain: they've promised more of the kind. Or, there's nothing to do but embrace all this beauty.
As the morning was like no other and the sea calm, we decided to get to know our fancy little boat little closer.
Nina's sea rescue simulation went just fine until: "my pants are too slippery!"
Considering herself a great sailor, AE decided to row Märket runt (round Märket). The girls, starting to fancy earthly temptations, asked her to bring chocolate and beer from the nearest shop.
This heroish journey was, nevertheless, interrupted right at the beginning; there was a boat approaching! Now we had our chance to save our faces. We catched a glimpse of a boat also the day before, but that one passed and we could only watch our stunning 100 per cent-of-passing-yachts-stops-record deteriorate.
Well, this one stopped and anchored again on the Southern end of the reef, the pilot was luckily already there with her little red miracle.
The visitors were Berndt and Dyrten Moberg from Espoo, but they came from their summer cottage in Dalsbruk (Taalintehdas). They stayed for coffee and the head guide Maija's tour, and we really spent some glad moments together.
Dyrten, Nina, Berndt and Maija discussed their boating experiences at the coffee shop Märket.
As AE was taking Berndt and Dyrten back to their boat, we saw another yacht heading towards the reef. The captain of that one had just visited Märket some weeks ago, so he stayed in the boat while his sons (I presume) Niklas and Tobias Hellman, two very charming young men from Singö Grisslehamn, Sweden, got ashore.
AE the pilot takes Nicke and Tobbe to the reef.
Hellmans on Märket: "Who would have believed this morning where we end up!"
After Nicke and Tobbe left, we almost had the boat home when came the next visitors. The pilot was a bit horrified by them driving so close to the reef, but after having found out Timo Rundqvist is a real pilot from Mariehamn she considered they might well know what they're doing.
Timo and Tryggve Rundqvist came from the summer cottage in Vårdö especially to visit Märket, and we also shared some interesting stories and laughs around the coffee table.
Tryggve & Timo in "the best photo taken on this island."
All in all, what a delightful day with surprises, good people, very many seals around and ... Yes, what about that chocolate and beer
AE hands chocolate and beer to Maija. Promise is promise... (Warmest thanks to Berndt and Dyrten.
Märket thanks all the new friends, and older ones alike. You're great. We're over and out.
AE & the famous Märket crew
Friday 24.8.2007 - This could have been the dream ending to our story
"... And as they woke up on that last morning, the world had disappeared. They were wrapped in soft, white fog taming all the voices except the seals whistling their eternal song. The sea breathed slowly and gently rocked the reef as it was carried far, far away, bringing along those last happy lighthouse keepers."
As it would have been too serious a loss to the Lighthouse Society (and, we hope, to our friends and beloved), we decided to stay in this world even if it means we have to leave Märket so soon.
Besides, the fog flew away with the sun rising, and the wind woke up blowing now harder than any day before, directly from the north.
Perfect day for storm fishing, thinks Sari. The fish disagree so far.
What saves something in the last days is that most of the people are so busy cleaning up and doing everything that should have been done before they do not have time to get sentimental.
We are busy and not very sentimental (yet, at least), but it's still feeling so weird! To go back there! I'm developing a proper Scarlett O'Hara spirit. I'll think about it tomorrow.
Besides all this being-here-right-now and being-leaving-so-soon, we received again an interesting visit today. We did not actually wait for anybody in these rather windy conditions, but there they came with their beautiful wooden boat Eeva (from Kaarina), the group of four men and two women, called here "the divers" upon their wish.
The divers on solid land...
The divers did the tour of the lighthouse and the reef. Then we got to admire them to take it to a bit deeper. Märket's amazing even underwater.
...and in water.
These are still not the only news about the diving creatures today. Our great leader Pekka send us a message from the airport (he's heading to Iceland to visit - lighthouses!) that it's now official: there are porpoises in these waters!
He had seen them around midsummer and now it's verified. We congratulate the boss and try to keep our eyes wide open.
Well, now I cannot help it anymore. It's time for the last supper (pancakes!).
We all want to thank the Finnish Lighthouse Society for braveness and enthusiasm in saving Märket, Pekka for sending us loads of cleanex and, of course, for letting us participate in this important work. And Märket for giving us this:
I personally want to thank my companions the lighthouse keepers, Maija, Niina & Sari, for happy spirits and fascinated minds, stomach aching laughs and great food.
Welcome the next crew!
Anna Emilia over and out.