Saturday 8.9.2007 - Crew exchange
After an excellent last night, it's our time to head back to Eckerö.
The last evening taking a dinghy tour.
The change of crew took place as planned, at around 9 AM. Jon and Esko arrived with Mats, who was steering the boat.
Fresh guards arrive with 5 meters of steel powered by 130 horse power.
That's some boat, I tell you! Mats told us it is still maneuverable in 25 m/s wind, so we were feeling quite safe in our rescue suits.
On the left Jon, Aino in the middle (feeling safe in the suit) and Esko on right.
It started to rain mixed water and snow when we left, combine that to the forecast of 17 m/s wind for the evening, and the new guards have a good clean start to their week.
We look forward to reading their entries in this diary. It should be interesting, seeing how the weather treats them and how the week turns out. Take care, Jon and Esko!
Goodbye Märket, the last diary entry for Aino and Harri.
From the new lighthouse guards:
Arriving at Märket
We arrived in Mariehamn early in the morning and picked up petrol, water and boards. Like real burglars, 4.30 in the morning. Our first project was to buy batteries, which we forgot yesterday from Tapiola, Espoo.
It turned out to be a bit harder than we thought. We had to be at 8.30 in the post harbour of Eckerö. We convinced Petra, in the Select petrol station, to open half an hour early. A BIG thanks to her!
In Eckerö Mats, from the local SAR (Meripelastajat), took us on a fast and smooth ride to Märket! The previous lighthouse keepers, Aino and Harri, had done a great job with the windows! The only left three small windows for us prepare for winter.
Aino and Harri even had breakfast ready for us! They showed us around outside and inside. Inside was nicer, it was raining slush outside. We waved goodbye and went to explore Märket.
We saw five seals today. One crossed from Finland to Sweden. The other four were just bobbing in the water and studying us.
After Esko had his swim we had a thorough look at the instructions and then we shopped some.
Brave new lighthouse keeper Esko takes a swim tour.
The refridgerator here seems a bit broken. The freezer is working, but the refridgerator does not cool properly. We gave it a thorough shake, it works a little bit better now.
Writing the first diary report is a small challenge, so we started it early today. So far we have to struggle to manage the combination of digital camera, laptop and telephone… For now, we cannot get photos through, so we’ll have figure out a way to get the transmission work out.
After sending this report, we will start cooking and free time starts in one hour.
Jon and Esko over and out from Märket!
Sunday 9.9.2007 - Free the bird day
First, we have to apologize for this weekend’s diary entries. We had (and still have) some technical problems. Sending the text from the reef to the webmaster is now sorted out, but sending images is refused by the mobile network most of the time.
We have managed to send only three images, this morning. Let's keep our fingers crossed, that it works today!
[From the webmaster: after losing the data phone in the first autumn storm, we are inventing each week how to send photos.]
The morning started with a strong breeze from the North-East. The swell was coming in from the South. So waves were crashing in from all sides of Märket. We took a morning walk and spotted a few seals in the sea.
When we came back in we heard a bird singing. It was surprisingly strong. We localized it in the tower; a small bird had flown in through the door. He had a beautiful yellow spot on top of his head.
We tried to carefully catch him with a landing net. But every time the bird was caught he just flew through, the mesh was too sparse. Finally, the bird sat down on the rim of the landing net and we carefully walked up the stairs and let him out from the top of the lighthouse.
Some action is good for the keepers, thought the bird.
But the bird must have really liked it inside. A few minutes later he had returned through the top hatch. We knew the drill, and when the bird again sat down on the rim of the landing net we returned him outside.
We had a short photo session for an article Esko will write for Vasama, the union paper for electrical work. Our surprise was big when we found a phone in a crack in the rocks.
It was the Lighthouse Society’s phone, lost the other week. It was wet and there is some white substance coming out of it and the frame is loose. It is completely broken. We could not even manage to open it, to save pictures from the memory card.
Poor little thing!
We then collected some driftwood for the water boiler. We will have to chop it up later. The wind calmed down and the sun tried to peak out behind the clouds. We decided to continue the work of Aino and Harri.
We chose the easiest tower window. We considered doing it from the outside, but fastening the ladder up to the lighthouse felt bit too dangerous. Aino and Harri had given us some advice and warned us that the first window is the hardest.
Jon sawing the new window cover.
However, we had to learn our lesson ourselves. We got about halfway. We have the panel frame ready, it just needed a few modifications we had not thought about. If the weather is nice tomorrow, then we will fasten it.
Our stomachs are trying to tell us to make some supper. So that will be next. Some food and then we hope for a nice sunset! If the weather is as calm tomorrow, then we will probably take out the dinhgy for a quick spin. Good to practise before we have visitors…
The bird seems to really like it inside. Now we hear birdsong again…
Lighthouse keepers Jon and Esko over and out for today.
Monday 10.9.2007 - Recycling
Last evening we spotted a few seals in the sea. When we went out we saw a group of about twenty seals swim by. And we thought we had seen many seals already… We also saw the “Märket mascot”, the bullfrog, in the storage room. Has anyone come up with a name for it?
The nameless mascot.
This morning I called the technical support of the Märket mobile phone operator. I finally got to talk with a guy from technical support. He was able to tell me why sending of MMS-messages was not possible. The new SIM-card was just a slave card for the old one. Sending of MMS-messages is not supported… Hopeful that the SIM-card in the broken phone would still work, we broke it open. Now it is totally demolished!
One sorry looking Nokia.
I later in the day contacted Kai, from my work. He was able to debug and tell me how to configure my phone to get email working! Yes!!
The wind was pressing in on the water boiler so that the wind went in through the chimney and the smoke came out through the hatch. We did some recycling of our pea soup can from yesterday and converted it to a new hood for the chimney.
The wind was blowing too strong for us to continue mounting the window boards. So we spent the morning writing the paper diary. We also did some preparing for continuing the work.
We have noticed an oil leak between the engine room and the storage building. We localized it to a hole in the engine room. Jon explored the lower floor, below the generators. The oil seems to leak from the old pipes coming from the oil tanks. An earlier lighthouse guard has tried to stop the leak with sawdust. It was all oily. The sawdust was replaced and the pipes were lifted a bit in hope of raising them above the level in the tanks. At least one of the tanks had some oil in it.
A bit wiser from previous days we started writing the diary early today. We are sitting in the kitchen and watching the waves crash in from the southeast.
If anyone knows the breed of the bird from yesterday or just want to brighten up our day, please send a text message to +358408499333! We also accept name proposals for the bullfrog!
Märket over and out.
Tuesday 11.9.2007 - Finland - Sweden (and back)
Sinkki game in the evening.
Yesterday evening we had a quiet candlelight dinner. After that we played quite a few games of "sinkki". Esko thaught Sinkki to Jon. The rules are quite simple, but it can anyway get complicated. :-) The rules are as follows:
Sinkki is a game for 2-5 players. The goal of the game is to collect at least three of a kind or a straight of at least four cards in the same land. Number two is a joker, it can replace any missing card.
The dealer deals everyone eight cards. And one additional for himself. The remaining cards are left in the deck.
The dealer starts by putting a card on the table (face up).
The next player takes the played card or one card from the deck. He then plays one card. And so on…
When a player has three of a kind or a straight of four ha can call “sinkki”. After that every other player has one more turn. Every card not part of a three of a kind or straight of a least four is counted as points according to its value. The ace is counted as one. (In a straight the ace is counted as 14). Players drop out of the game when they reach 50 points. The last one in the game is the winner.
What a beautiful morning on Märket!
Jon woke up early in the morning and enjoyed a very nice sunrise. After breakfast we decided to practice rowing the dinghy. We were a bit sceptical as it felt like an eggshell on the water. It turned out to handle the waves quite well! Jon rowed from Finland to Sweden and Esko rowed back from Sweden to Finland.
Esko rowed from Sweden to Finland - no border control this time.
Now the sun had come out again and it was time for Jon to copy what Esko did already on Saturday. Jon swam from Finland to Sweden. Then we both had a dip in the sea, in the quiet bay of Märket. Esko then swam out and conquered the neighbouring reef. The seawater was 13 degrees warm, it took some getting used to…
Esko conquered the reef.
To get up the heat again we made some firewood of driftwood and old planks.
We have not had any visitors, even though the sea every day has, at least momentarily, been calm enough to a allow landing at Märket. To redeem the situation we decided to send a message to all of you out there!
Welcome all visitors!
Then it was time to continue with the work on the window. We cut the plexi, mounted the new window sheet and were quite pleased with the result. We had the work planned, so it went quite fast. We decided it would be almost impossible to change one of the other tower windows from the inside, so we investigated doing it from the outside. The roof of the boatshed is quite rotten. But placing a ladder on the roof spreads the weight enough to walk on the roof. If the weather is nice tomorrow, then we will change the window.
The work goes on on Märket.
That´s all for today! Märket over and out.
Wednesday 12.9.2007 - Bird watching
The morning started with a strong 12m/s wind from the south. It turned to the north and then in the evening calmed down. The weather report forecasted 18m/s during the night.
Living together with a stranger gives surpisingly fast routines. Jon makes the food and Esko the dishes.
After breakfast we work on one thing or another. Have a few breaks to enjoy Märket and then we write the diary together in the afternoon. After dinner we play cards. But today we will listen to the football game between Finland and Poland. You can probably guess who we are cheering for. :-)
We had a walk around the reef and saw a few small birds in the waterline. Jon has tried to photograph them for several days, but they are too shy.
Anyone know what bird they are? (We really would need a bird atlas…) They seem to be a family, parents with two chicks. An eagle (merikotka/havsörn) landed on the east tip today. But it just took a short stop, before continuing its journey. It was amazing to see how it just flew against the wind, where seagulls did not get forward at all.
Work today mostly consisted of insulateing some of the boarded up windows.
We had some rain come in under our bedroom window a few days ago. So now when we are expecting a strong wind tonight, we don’t want rainwater to come in. The wind was too strong for working outside on the remaining windows.
The weather is a bit unpredictable right now, so we don’t know when we are leaving. We are expecting visitors on Friday. Pekka Väisänen with officials are coming to check up on the restauration work. Angela, responsible for the windows, is also coming. On Saturday the change of lighthouse keepers is planned. Some radio amateurs are also coming here for a longer stay. We might have to do some rowing, good that we practiced yesterday.
We are running short on petrol, so we have to write and send the diary entry quite fast.
Now the sea is quite calm. It is hard to believe there will almost be a storm tonight. But we are still hoping!
Märket over and out!
Thursday 13.9.2007 - Rough weather
This morning we woke up to the sound of the wind and waves.
When we looked out of our window we saw a huge wave crash in over the jetty north of the lighthouse. We hurried out to experience the power of nature. The waves crashed in and over the reef.
The only place dry was in front of the lighthouse. It seems the builders and the architect of the lighthouse knew what they did… We later heard on the radio that the wind was 19m/s. We had a photo session, but trying to capture the size of the waves was hard. We both wet our pants…
We also learned the power of the waves.
One huge wave crashed in over the jetty, the stonewall in front of the lighthouse and all the way up to the wall of the engine room and boat shed. It also took the plastic compost container. We had thought it would be protected behind the jetty, silly us… The dinghy on the other had rides nicely in the harbour. But it is no weather for rowing…
We too a lunch break and had sausages from the grill. We found a nice sunny spot behind the storage building. It was really warm protected from the wind.
As we didn’t know if we would leave on Friday, we cleaned up after us. It later turned out it was in vain. The wind will be strong tomorrow too. The radio amateurs are hoping to be able to land on Saturday. Otherwise we will probably “have” to stay until Monday.
Märket over and out.
Friday 14.9.2007 - Trouble
We woke up to a beautiful morning. The wind had changed to the south. Landing on the north side would have been easy. Jon was completely wrong yesterday, when he predicted it would be impossible to land today. But a 3-5m high swell makes one doubt!
Yesterday evening we spotted a hawk. It had spotted the small birds. The hawk had a few of them for dinner. Poor things, they where exhausted from a day of strong wind. In the morning we did not see any small birds. Later they appeared, but seemed worried. Not without reason. We have had two hawks here today.
Originally we were scheduled to leave tomorrow. But too strong a wind is forecasted for tomorrow. The boat bringing the new lighthouse keeper and some radioamateurs will not come. The change will, probably, take place on monday instead. Our thoughts go to our families waiting for us at home.
We explored the attic today. The old lighthouse keepers had many many books. The oldest we found were from the 19th century.
You have probably noticed the lack of pictures in today's entry? Due to trouble with the generator we cannot move them from the camera, via a laptop, to the phone. The sparkplug was all black and wet. We cleaned it and finally left it to dry.
The only picture today is taken with Jon's camera phone...
Jon today found a picture painted by his son. It was hidden in Jon's bag. He sends a big hug home!
Märket over and out.
Saturday 15.9.2007 - In the storm one feels quite small
(This entry is written 160907)
Jon’s mobile phone tilted during the night. Esko’s is almost out of power. For a short time it was sunny enough to partially charge Jon’s mobile phone.
We continued our fight with the generator. We pulled and pulled. We dried the spark plug. We adjusted the spark plug. We pulled and pulled. We opened the exhaust. We opened the air intake. We pulled and pulled.
Once the generator showed a short sign of life. To no avail. The generator was just dead. A motor guru from the Finnish Lighthouse Society suggested we change the spark plug or at least let it dry. We let it dry for over an hour. Changing it would have been a good idea, but we have no spare spark plugs.
The technique fails.
Pekka sent an SMS that we would be picked up tomorrow at 18.00 by the SAE (Meripelastajat / Sjöräddningen). The battery in Jon’s phone died, when we tried to answer Pekka.
As our modern equipment was dying around us, we resorted to an old way of communicating, bottle post! To not loose grip with the modern world, we included our email addresses in the message. We hope to hear from you!
Is there genie in the bottle?
It seems quite a few migrating birds have a stop on Märket. Today we spotted some terns, perhaps Arctic terns?
Taking a pause on the way South.
The forecast for tonight is 23m/s from the North-East. So we will experience an even stronger storm than on Thursday. The wind was increasing in strength the whole evening. The waves were building higher and higher.
No way surfing here.
Late in the evening, we went out to check that everything was OK. It wasn’t. The provisional door to the shed had blown open, even though we had tied it to the opening. Planks in the door and the rope had broken.
The windows in Carlberg’s hut had blown open. As we don’t have a key nor can reach the windows, we just hope it won’t rain in. As Jon slammed the boat shed doors shut he saw that one of the small birds were sitting on the latch he just closed. It was just staring at him, too afraid of the storm to fly away.
Carlberg's hut takes a blow in the storm.
Usually one feels very safe on Märket. But out in the dark in a full storm one feels quite small. The area safe to walk on is basically limited to the front yard. The waves come crashing in from the dark over the rest of the reef. The small harbour where we keep the dinghy is surprisingly well protected, though. We need not to pull the dinghy up and we have had two storms over Märket.
A wet but safe niche for the little red dinghy.
We continued our tradition of playing sinkki in candlelight. It was a close call resulting in Esko winning two games out of three.
The night falls over the reef.
Märket over and out!
Sunday 16.9.2007 - Beat this
We slept through the storm like small babies. In the morning, we went out to check on the destruction done by the storm.
The storm had taken our second compost bin. The little bird from yesterday was still sitting on the boat shed door. To our big grief, the little bird that flew into the lighthouse a few days ago had not made it through the night’s storm. We found it dead on the cliffs.
We have forgotten to tell you that Pirjo N, a former lighthouse keeper this summer, has identified the bird as a Pallas’s Leaf Warbler (hippiäisuunilintu /kungsfågelsångare).
One brave little bird.
We have had our share of unluck with electrical devices. First, the generator refused to start on Friday. The spark plug was all black and charred. We cleaned it up.
Then, the generator just wet the spark plug. Jon’s phone tilted during the night towards Saturday. It was not sunny enough to charge it fully. Esko’s phone was low on battery. We “burned” the mobile phone charger when trying to connect it to a 12V battery. We were practically down to the VHF-radio as our only means of communicating.
The SAR boat from Eckerö with Ville tried to pick us up. We first tried to call with Esko’s phone to Ville, but the battery died. Then we tried the VHF-radio. We heard Ville, but he didn’t hear us.
Then the battery died in the VHF-radio. There does not seem to be a charger for it here at the lighthouse. The swell on the Northern side was too high for the boat to land and the sea in the South too rough for us to row out.
But they threw spark plugs to us. With a life buoy we managed to transfer a canister of petrol and some other supplies from the boat to us. The boat returned to Eckerö. The first thing Pekka asked was if we remembered to take photographs. We forgot, we were too busy tying to leave Märket.
We took up the fight with the generator. Changed to a new spark plug. It started on the first pull. Happy we went to charge our phones and write the diary entries.
After about an hour the generator stopped. The new spark plug was black and charred. We cleaned it up and the generator run for another half an hour before it stopped. We had our phones charged and gave up for the evening.
The little bird Jon saw on the boat shed door yesterday was sitting there again tonight. This time we decided to take a photo of it. Hoping not to scare it away into the strong wind. It didn’t move. It was probably tired, cold and wet.
The lighthouse becomes more dramatic towards the end of season.
Märket over and out.
Monday 17.9.2007 - Two funerals, one birthday and a goodbye
We woke up to a calm beautiful day. Hopefully, tomorrow will be as calm.
How quick can the weather changes be on the reef!
After breakfast, we finished the backlog of diary entries we built up when the generator was not working. The generator died 20 second after we had transfered everything.
Esko wrote the paper diary and Jon started preparing for the funeral of our little friend. Sadly, another bird died in the morning. We buried them both and had a quiet moment.
Rest in peace.
Then we celebrated Esko's birthday. We had a small, but very ascetic, party in the "museum" room. Esko reflected over Märket being quite an original place for celebrating one's 60th birthday. Esko is now planning to celebrate his 70th birthday on Märket with his family.
The generator died again. This time it was smoking so bad that we dared not start it again.
We are now, for the third time, preparing to leave Märket. Thank you Märket, you let up experience something only Märket can give.
We leave beriched with an experience for life and sweet memories to treasure. Märket has shown us its many faces including storm and calm, beauty and roughness, sun and rain, isolation, birds and seals, life and death. With a sad mind, we are happy to go home to our families.
Thank you Märket! Jon and Esko over and out.