Navigating Finland

The Finnish archipelago is formed by hundreds of islands. The waters are deep, but there are thousands of rock outcroppings that make navigation hazardous.

The Finns mark the waters well with the standard red/green channel markers. They also use a system of white stanchions painted with black bands, which mark the north, south, east and west edges of the navigable waters.

The west side markers are painted with a wide band on top, a narrow band in the middle and a wide band on the bottom. The eastern bands are narrow, wide, narrow.

A Finnish fisherman told me how to remember which is which. With a wide grin forming on his face he said, “Western girls are like this,” drawing a classic hourglass in the air with his outstretched hands. “Eastern girls are like this,” forming the shape of a pear.

Apparently his frequent ferry trips to Estonia were more for the cheap vodka than the girls.