Saturday 1.9.2007 - Brando went friendly with Bengt
The morning at the lighthouse started with the normal routines, but then it was time to change shift with the new crew. Aino and Harri arrived with Bengt, and anchored the boat to the South side.
That meant that we had to row to Bengt's boat with the plastic rocking dinghy. I tied the other oar (or actually a paddle only) with a rubber band and put on a light life vest, as ordered.
A hard day's rowing for the lighthouse keepers today.
Luckily, there was no crossing waves and the sea was quite calm, so I managed to make my way to Bengt's boat. There was quite a lot of stuff to bring ashore, so the dinghy made four trips to get the gear, construction material and the new guards on shore.
Surprisingly, another boat also approached the reef, and it appeared to be a divers’ boat. Soon after that also a helicopter came visible, and quite close, but, unfortunately, it did not land. So we didn't get any visitors during our one week shift, not even on the last day.
Divers got close by but only close this time.
Then Minna-Lotta advised the new guards with all the necessary details, while I had coffee and a chat with Bengt.
Hopefully the new crew get's some visitors, fine shots, and an exiting experience! Thanks a lot to SMS and Minna-Lotta, who made my unforgettable trip to Märket possible! I'll remember to mention this in my evening prayer for many, many times.
Harri and Aino take charge (left), Minna-Lotta is going away on Bengt's boat. Brando is leaving the picture.
From the new crew of lighthouse keepers:
The weather was excellent, the sun was shining and the wind was sweet for a change. Bengt brought us to the rocky isle and we were briefed in by Minna-Lotta and Pirjo. We also brought a new SIM -card to the lighthouse phone, so we have re-established the connection to the outside world!
Praise the kind folks at the telephone shop in Mariehamn who made this possible: especially the guy who was persistent enough to fix all the hassle we had gotten ourselves into with customer service... Thank you all!
We also brought a lot off supplies and construction material. Our mission here, this week, is to install some heavy duty windows for the winter and do some measuring & drawing.
The first exciting thing on the isle was a helicopter. They flew around, but didn't land.
Having briefed us in, Pirjo, Minna-Lotta and Bengt and the brave lighthouse dog Brando left. This time he didn't try to bite Bengt, which was nice.
After that, we were alone. The sun was shining. We took a break. And went for a walk, getting accustomed to the lighthouse and its surroundings.
During the walk we saw some divers. They were pretty close to the reef... wonder what they were diving? A wreck? At least they posed when I snapped a picture.
And greetings to Klubi (Päivi& the boys), now we are here!!!!
Harri & Aino
Sunday 2.9.2007 - Circling storms and winter windows
Everything here seems so total. When the weather treats us well, it really does. When it gets nasty, it really does and goes quick about it.
The lighthouse at its best.
In the morning, the weather was still as sweet as yesterday, a brisk wind was blowing from the South.
Harri and Aino enjoying their first moments on the reef.
The wind seemed strong enough to keep visitors at bay. So, we listened to the weather reports and made the decision of getting to our task: building the windows for winter.
Watching the waves.
Replacing the windows involves taking down the old outer windows and fitting some new, temporary windows in place. The windows would be open for a long time, so showering rain would do no good to our deed.
We were keeping an eye for the weather all the time - if there was a storm arising, we would notice it and make some hasty manouvers to cover the windows. Luckily, lady Fortuna was on our side.
The storms were circling around us, West and East, but didn't seem interested in paying us a visit. Not before we had finished with the last screw on our window, that is.
A storm passing by. This one was armed with lightning.
That was the precise moment we were given a good, brief shower of Baltic water, and that's no fisherman’s story! On the very precise moment of fastening the last screw!
We are making some new windows for the winter.
Does it fit?
And in case you were wondering: yes, they hold the water outside. Fits like a glove, works like a charm.
When we started with the windows, we thought we could do several each day. It turns out the prediction was a little on the optimistic side. At this rate, we manage one window a day, and even then we need a rainless day or, at least, as little of it as possible.
The fitting is the hardest task, installing is a breeze. This has made us think of a new guerilla tactic - perhaps we can build the windows without taking the old ones down first, then we could deal the installing as a batch. Drop the bombs all at once, so to speak. We'll see to that tomorrow.
What next? Aino will catch a fish, she hasn't decided if it's going to be a salmon or a perch. Both are readily available in the sea, so that is no problem (please aid us, Fortuna!). I'm going to try some nighttime photography, so stay on line.
Fishing by the shoreline, planning the future catch.
Märket tuning out for today, Harri & Aino
Monday 3.9.2007 - Sense of drama everywhere
We've been to the tower a few times now. The sunset is strikingly colourful and the low hanging storm clouds seem threatening. The island has treated us well, but the sense of drama is everywhere.
The view from the top takes the breath away almost as well as climbing the steps up.
The calm moments in the kitchen, after the sunset are really getting to me. It feels like the curtain has been closed and the island preparing for the next act.
After nightfall, the kitchen is a different world.
Today the weather has been perfect. A mild wind has been blowing from the South-West and the waves have taken it easy. It was so nice in the morning I thought we could have some visitors, but no. It seems like the season is over.
After this morning, we have been fiddling with the winter windows again. Since the wind was pleasant, we have been able to test and fit the windows without taking down the old ones. This enables us to manufacture the windows before installing them.
The window working station.
Manufacturing and fitting 3 windows seems to take about 2 days, and it involves the use of a power generator. Installing them takes about 15 minutes / window, and it doesn't involve the power generator. This means that we can minimize the power consumption by manufacturing the windows before installing them.
The other benefit is, that we aren't as vulnerable to weather as we would be if we worked as we did yesterday. Thus, we have decided to pre-fabricate the windows. It seems like a nice decision so far.
Right now it's raining. I don't think it spoils this day at all. We just get a small pinch of everything today. Just a little while ago we had sunshine, and my face feels like it’s tanning. The mixture of salty water and sunshine is starting to work on our skin.
And guess what? The rain has given raise to some pretty well defined double rainbows! We've seen one yesterday and another one appeared just a moment ago!
This you get to witness rarely.
I dashed out in to the on-going rain, trying to cover the camera inside my sweater. Let's see if it was worthwhile. And I bet you, the inner rainbow had its tail hit the ground right on the spot where we laid our fish nets today!
Yes, we are catching the fish with a net now. So if any of you herrings are reading this, please head towards the Eastern corner of the reef.
Catching fish, hopefully.
The weather was a tad too much for our boat, so Aino came up with this idea of setting the net between two spits. This should work, and it isn't too obtrusive either.
It should be about time to collect the fish soon. If there's nothing, we leave the net for all night. I hope the weather treats us well enough to get the net back.
Definitely catching the clouds.
Preparing for the third night on Märket, Aino & Harri.
Tuesday 4.9.2007 - Visiting waves from Kemi
We woke up after 6 AM to some clattering, wind and heavy rain. It was blowing straight from the North. Waves from Kemi, I guess. Harri took some photos of the rising sun. The rain complicated things a little, so I guess we have to try the sunrise photos again some time.
Another beautiful day arises on the Märket reef.
After breakfast, we took care of the tangled nets that we had set out yesterday. They were tangled and covered with seaweed. It took quite a while to straighten them out and pluck out all the green stuff.
We had to pick them up before any fish had made it to our trap, but we couldn't wait any longer. I'm glad we didn't leave them there for all night, they would probably have been ripped apart. Besides, the spits are under water now. To tell you the truth, most of the reef is underwater.
Looking to the North.
Looking to the East.
Looking to the West.
Wonder what the seals do on a day like this? Do they enjoy surfing the big ones, or are they living on the edge right now? In the morning, we saw one enjoying the sun, but since then, there have been none.
The seal friend let us very close; a zen attitude at its best.
The weather reports say that we have peaked somewhere around 14 m/s here. I can only imagine what it's like when the wind blows at 20 m/s including rain... Right now it's only blowing, no rain, so we have it pretty cheerful. Right?
A bit windy and wavy; it is autumn on the reef.
The wind has made our lives a little more restricted, though. We haven't been able to continue our project with the windows as effective as yesterday. We opened one window on the South-East side, but it picked up quite a bit of wind.
Opening the North-East window on the attic is definitely out of the question. The South-West windows have been easy, though - so we have been working on them. This means that we only have a double window on the attic that we haven't worked on, and the kitchen window which is halfway finished. The first floor windows are finished, as is the window in our little boutique. Great!
But, on the other hand, there's a sweet spot in the tower. A sweet spot where the wind doesn't blow, or at least the turbulence nullifies the effect. It's pretty hypnotic, looking at the waves marching wave after wave right across the island. It might be fun to have a picnic there. But I doubt we have the courage.
Question: What is best about this day? Aino: Imaginary fish! Harri: Real meatballs.
Wednesday 5.9.2007 - Seal performance
We have run out of construction material. So, end of mission number one: The winter windows. To tell you the truth, we haven't installed the kitchen window, since it only takes a few minutes and we enjoy the view from the old ones.
Last look at the view.
The weather was excellent for working with the windows: A lot of sun and a mild wind. And we've been effective: all the windows were fitted before lunch.
The South West windows are installed!
The North-East window is installed!
Installing the ventilation tubes to the windows reminds somehow of Alvar Gullichsens Raba Hiff Powermachines. All the shimmering metal and the extra long tubes. So, Bonk spirit is strong here on Märket as well!
The installed ventilation reminds of Alvar Gullichsen's Raba-Hiff Powermachinery. (Go to Uusikaupunki for Bonk-museum.)
After lunch we met up with the seal on the Eastern coast. The seal was a real performer today. It was bathing in the sun, but when we approached it put up a show including diving, swimming and a bit of poo.
I guess we were a bit frightening, approaching from below the wind. But the show was so memorable, we just had to take a few pictures.
We're going to try the nets again today. The walk to the East got us thinking of a new tactic for setting the nets. Maybe tomorrow we'll have some other fish than canned tuna in our soup.
A wishful fisherwoman with an aboriginal.
The other thing to do is to try some long exposures with the camera, one - two hours or something along those lines. We experimented a little yesterday, and today we've planned the spot and scene. Let's see how it works out - should be interesting to try at least.
The camera's not feeling quite all right after yesterday's wind and salty splashes, but I hope it holds up until weekend.
That's it for today, Aino and Harri calling good night from Märket!
Thursday 6.9.2007 - About fish and the lighthouse
An add: There's a show about Märket on Radio Suomi, airing on Friday night 14th September after midnight (00:20). Tune your receivers to the ether! The ether is all around us!
But, in the meantime, we have prepared you a little tour of the lighthouse. Previously, we have shown you the window working station, the kitchen at night and the building from outside all around.
Now, we present you a bit more of the inside. All of you who haven't been here have an opportunity to get a sense of how it feels like.
First: Approaching the lighthouse. We've shown you the outside, haven't we? If I recall right, we had a full frontal picture of the lighthouse from the South on 2.9. The place where the red boat is anchored at, that's where you hop ashore.
You also see the striped lighthouse a bit further away, and you head straight toward it. You see the stairs leading to the 20 meter long bridge, and the front door of the lighthouse.
When you climb the stairs, the metal feels warm and rough to your hand. It's in heavy use all the time, all the traffic in and out of the lighthouse goes through here.
Getting in requires legs in shape.
On the top, at the door, the wind gets heavier. The door has seen its days, it's almost falling out. The tall people have to watch their head when stepping in.
Inside you come to a corridor. A strong draft goes up, it shuffles your clothes but keeps everything dry. When you look right, you see the room where we've set up a working station. There's also an old fireplace there, and a fancy flowery wallpaper. Ripped and worn, of course, but you can still make out the pattern.
Are there ghosts in the stairs or is it just nice camera work?
The stairs are on the left. They're narrow on modern standards, but they are remarkably well lit and the curved form is esthetically pleasing. But most important, of course, they take you up. The common rooms are in the second floor.
Arriving to the second floor, you see the kitchen right in front of you. That's where all the good stuff is in. Like meatballs, for example. We've shown you a night picture a few days ago, so no picture from there, but on the left, that's our Märket boutique.
Nice shop, isn't it?
We stock on all the major Märket merchandise. The room is quite big, and the view is to the South West. The sunset is in this direction, so the best light is around 21 PM at this time of the year. When it's dark, you can see several ships riding on the horizon.
Then the stairs take you to the attic, and of to the top of the lighthouse. The corridor narrows here, and suddenly it's all dark. If the lid to the top platform is closed, you feel like you were inside a tank.
But when you open it, the view is stunning. The sudden rush of wind strikes you with a gush of salty smells as well. The platform is metal all around, everything is cold and weathered. But, as I told you the other day, there's always a "sweet spot" on top, a spot where the wind stands still. It's a nice place for observing.
The meteorological station seen from the top.
That's where our tour ends. You know why? We want to write about fishing.
We haven't had any fish.
No fish for Aino.
We woke up early, to pick the fish from the sea. When we arrived to the nets (well, there's only one, really...), we saw the performer seal lying on his usual place. He looked happy. I bet you he has been eating the fish from our net - it was empty.
No fish for Harri.
But we wont give up! No! We took the net, threw it into the boat and rowed a bit to the South. So, tomorrow, there's a definite catch. No seals, just fish.
Dedicated to getting some fish.
The day was really warm and calm - the wind is almost standing still. There aren't any clouds right now, either, so this night might be excellent for night time photography.
Aino and Harri, waiting for the nightfall.
P.S. We almost forgot! We've gotten to our task number 2: taking some measurements. We've taken the main dimensions of the building, Aino is measuring a door and Harri deals with a window sill.
Notice: We got false information about the show about Märket on Radio Suomi. The show does NOT air this night, but next week. You may still tune to the ether, but you'll not hear things about Märket.
We know now; this is the last night on our shift. The crew change takes place tomorrow at about 9 AM. New, fresh guards are arriving. I hope they enjoy their shift as much as we did ours.
Today we've taken it rather easy. We've been cleaning up, packing our stuff and finishing our drawings.
Aino taking measurements of the door.
Harri drawing the profile of the window sill.
We ate our lunch outside, since the weather has been pleasing again. I doubt it stays this way for long.
Aino and Harri having a coffee after lunch. The weather is exceptionally warm.
The next crew might see things in a bit different perspective: We've had it easy since it's quite warm and it hasn't rained that much. And what about the folks coming here at the end of the month? The first week of October, that doesn't sound like a picnic at all. Nights are already getting dark, it must be pitch black a few weeks from now.
It's getting dark, I wouldn't dare go out without a torch.
Even now, going outside after 22 PM is a bit dangerous. You can't see anything but the stars and ships passing by, lit like Christmas trees.
And the autumn storms. I'd still like to see how tall the wave goes here. The reef sinks underwater when the wind peaks around 14 m/s, so what is it like when the first autumn storms hit here? It's just amazing, how well this empty lighthouse has stood against the weather for 30 years.
The waves are engulfing the reef again.
The sea was weird today. The wind has stood still, as it did last evening, but the waves have been swelling around the North side of the reef. The water is coloured deep emerald green and looks like jelly. It's like a big yacuzzi. Last night was a reverse of that: almost mirror calm, which is peculiar. The seals were popping up everywhere.
It's hard to write an entry to the diary today. I guess our minds are setting course home already. Processing this experience isn't that easy, either. It's been pretty impressing, the stay here. Inspiring, creative and busy.
We think the experience has been so special for us partly because we haven't had any visitors here. Having only the two of us here, we've had plenty of time to explore and observe the place. It feels like everything here is balanced, everything is enough but not plenty.
Since you can't see anything nearby, you feel very isolated of the outside world. Everything is good here. But, on the other hand, we wait eagerly for the change of crew. Having read the diaries of other crews, we know these mixed feelings are common.
The last nightfall for us.
Harri and Aino, calling good night from Märket for the last time.