“Did the money arrive in your bank account yet?” I texted the seller of our soon-to-be Hanse 531 sailboat.
“No, not yet,” he answered.
We were already on our way towards Sweden to pick her up, J and I, aboard Baltic Princess, one of the passenger ferries operating between Turku and Stockholm. The handover of the boat was planned to take place later the same day, once we had arrived. We would get our new (to us) boat, and the seller— well, I’m sure he wanted to get the payment.
“Ok, I will try to call the bank,” I replied, a bit anxiously.
Making the Payment
It’s a bit interesting, in fact, that while the Nordic countries are very open and integrated regarding the free movement of people (residency and employment, healthcare services, etc), buying something like a sailboat from the other country is not that easy. Especially, if you want (or need) to use any kind of boat financing. Then it’s actually nigh impossible.
“So why don’t you buy it from Finland?” one financing provider asked me a while back, quite well-meaningly.
The easy answer: we were looking for a second-hand 45ft+ Hanse, and there weren’t any of them in Finland! Outside Finland, in the slightly bigger Swedish market, however, there were a total of six of those. One of which we wanted to have with us on our way back!
So, back to the payment.
We had found the boat, had seen her in person, had a green-lighted survey, agreed on a sales contract, and now it was on me to pay the actual purchase price. The one part of the process that I actually thought would be quite straightforward and easy, so I just logged into my online bank and gave it a shot.
“PLEASE CONTACT CUSTOMER SUPPORT!”
I had entered all the information, no errors reported, all validations passed, but then this brightly red box appeared.
I tried again, entered the information, and pressed the ACCEPT PAYMENT button.
“PLEASE CONTACT CUSTOMER SUPPORT!” the computer repeated, matter-of-factly, without flinching or giving it even a millisecond of extra consideration.
Reluctantly, I picked up the phone and dialed into the bank’s support queue.
Ten-twenty minutes later someone answered. “Oh you want to do what? Can’t you just pay in euro? Oh, you can’t because the seller wants it in SEK. Please wait while I talk to a colleague.”
Ten-twenty minutes of further waiting (I’m not exaggerating here!), and after having listened to the on-hold music tune for so long that I was humming and singing along with it.
The customer service person appeared back on the line. “Hello, thank you so much for waiting!” he said, with slightly too much joy in his voice to my taste. “Well, unfortunately, you have to request this payment using an application form that you have to deliver to one of our offices in person,” he continued, with a slight added tone of I’m-sorry. “But I can send you the form now, and then we can schedule a time to one of our offices?”, he finished his proposition, too joyfully again.
“No no!” I interrupted him a bit angrily. “I need to make this payment now, today, and there is no way I can get to one of your offices now, I mean usually it can take over a week to get a scheduled time, and tomorrow I’m leaving for Sweden!”
“Well, I’m sorry, but the sum is too large to be transferred using the online banking system.”
“Isn’t there anything I can do?” I asked a bit desperately. “What if I split it into a number of smaller payments? Would that work?”
There was a pause. “Well, ehm, yes,” the customer support person answered a bit hesitantly, “you could try to do that.”
And so I did.
Extremely carefully, double and triple-checking everything, I typed in eight exactly matching payments into the system. Eight times requesting my eurozone euros in the sovereign democracy of Finland to turn into kronor and travel to the constitutional monarchy of Sweden. Taking no more than twenty-four hours, while doing so, I hoped, since it certainly should take less time for bits and bytes to cross the border, than for real people on passenger ferries.
Coincidentally, our boat-to-be was moored in a marina right next to the route of our passenger ferry, so when we were closing in on that, J and I ran up a few stairs to check if it was actually there.
“There! There! Can you see it?” I uttered excitedly when it first appeared around the corner. “You see that red wooden house, then a motor yacht next to it, and then, our boat, with the taller mast!” I added.
“What? I can’t see it?” J replied, trying to look hard to find it. “Oh ok, that one! Cool!”
Then just a bit later, a text message from the seller. “The money has arrived. We’re all good now!”
The seller had graciously offered to join us for the delivery sail to Finland.
“I don’t like sailing in the night,” he said, so we had split the journey into two legs. First, we’d set out from Stockholm and sail to the westernmost edge of the Sea of Åland to spend the night there. Then, on the second day, we’d cross over the border to Finland (Åland) and drop the seller off on Eckerö, from where he’d be able to catch a ferry back home to Stockholm. (And we’d be left there alone with the boat, without very specific plans of how to get it all the way home!)
The first leg started really nicely!
After a short fuel stop (where I did my first docking maneuver!), we didn’t have much wind so we motored for a while. Then, when the wind increased a bit, we hoisted the mainsail and started sailing dead downwind.
The weather wasn’t that nice, but the seller was very optimistic about it. “Just half an hour more and the sun will break out,” he repeated for maybe four or five times during the day.
And it finally did, but only after we had arrived at our midway harbor in the evening, a small idyllic place called Fejan.
The seller knew the owners of the place from before (at least indirectly), so he texted them ahead of us arriving.
“Are you open yet?”
“No,” they answered. “But we are coming there anyway this weekend.”
“Ok great! We’re all out of wine, can you bring some?” the seller added.
“Absolutely, what do you want?” they answered, to the small surprise of both me and the seller.
We arrived there first, and they a bit later.
And they didn’t just bring the wine. They actually invited us to spend the evening together with them, starting with a lovely dinner (J fell in love with the s’mores!), and ending with all kinds of political and philosophical discussions ebbing out only long into the night.
My heartfelt thanks to all of you! It was wonderful meeting you and I hope we see each other again someday.
For anyone interested in visiting the Fejan harbor (and restaurant and more), I strongly recommend doing so! ❤️
A Hop to Eckerö
We set out again in the morning, to start the second leg of our journey home: about thirty miles of open sea sailing across the sea of Åland to the island of Eckerö.
As we sailed out, our friends from yesterday motored alongside us to bid farewall — and in the process of doing so, they took some stunning pictures of the boat!
The sailing was pretty good! Well at first, but then the wind died away, and to get to Eckerö in time (where the seller had to catch a ferry), we motored for the latter half of the distance.
“So where will you go after you’ve dropped me off?” the seller asked.
It was a good question that I hadn’t really considered that much. Eckerö was still over a hundred miles from home, but I hadn’t given much thought to when and how we’d continue onwards.
“I don’t really know,” I said. “But there seem to be quite decent winds coming from good directions, so I guess we could just continue forward straight away?” I half asked, half thought out aloud to myself. “Maybe we should just sail through the night,” I added.
And so we did. After barely touching the Eckerö harbor and dropping the seller off, we turned out to the sea again. With a slightly elevated heart rate, I think, since it was just J and I aboard now. And nobody to turn to but ourselves, should we need help with something.
Night-sail to Turku
The sailing started out beautifully!
In the afternoon, decent winds— on the beam and forward— of up to twenty-two knots or so, but the boat felt great! Very stiff and not very unlike a train pushing forward.
Later in the night, we had our first encounter (of the summer) with two of our passenger ferry friends!
We sailed through the night, and almost into the Turku archipelago, before dropping the anchor at about 7 am to get a few hours of sleep. A few hours of weird and restless sleep, I should say. I think I woke up more than a couple of times completely disoriented as to where I was.
A bit before 10 am we pulled the anchor and continued forward to complete the last miles to Turku.
I texted Charlotte. “We’ll be there in an hour or so, so come down to the river to receive us!”
“We’ll be there!” she replied.
And then, just a tad later, we were on the final approach leg of our arrival.
The docking went swimmingly, and so we had arrived. Tired but ok.
And— in the nick of time— we had actually accomplished what we had set out to do, to get ourselves a sailboat for the summer.
A day and a half later we had sorted out the electricity supply with Turku harbor and introduced the new name to our yacht.
Hello and welcome, Charlotte, to join our small family on our next sailing adventures! I hope you’ll welcome us as well.