Usually when undertaking a 1200+ km paddling trip one compulsory item required for said trip besides the obvious kayak, paddle and a myriad collection of camping equipment is a map.. or two or three! That is , if one has an idea of where one wants to go AND actually perhaps find onesself at that hoped destination without accumulating too many extra kilometers in between.
However, if one is the lacka-daisical, exploratory, “que sera sera” -type then , by all means traveling without a map of any kind is always an refreshing, exciting experience, if you don’t believe me, ask Cristoffer Columbus! 😉
Many paddlers in the past have, paddled the finnish coast equipped with nothing more than a collection of 1:250,000 road or bicycling maps, locally known as “GT maps”. This probably is the most economical and lightweight option available. This is fine, the information contained in these maps is minimal and the accuracy is tolerable, but the trip can be accomplished!
I have compiled a list of the maps I have found useful for the Finnish coastal paddle and which I intend to use next summer.
First off is a selection of maps that are made for paddling purposes, and thus are GOOD as is! That is to say, slap them in a waterproof map case and Voila, its ready to go!
- Kokkola region isles. ” 7 Sillan Saaristo” The map maybe ordered online. Queries thru the local paddling club in that area ( Central Ostrobothnia Touring Paddlers ) . The map is made by paddlers for paddlers. Ringbinder A3 size, scale 1: 50,000, so it is good “as is“. Even though it is printed on water resistant paper, it should be used in a waterproof mapcase
- Qvarken region (Vaasa) . ” Merenkurkun melontakartta “. This map was also available from the Vaasa Tourist region, but at the writing of this post it is out of print. The map works nicely with the Kokkola region map as this Kokkola map continues from the northern reach of the Qvarken Map. Only difference from the Kokkola map, the Qvarken map is that it consists of two sheets instead of a ringbinder format. Otherwise same style and ideal for paddlers.
- Porkkala-Helsinki-Pellinki. Available for purchase thru Karttakeskus, Single large sheet, printed on a water resistant paper. Scale 1.50,000 . has camping sites, restricted zones, navigational aids etc marked. Ideal for paddlers
Then came the hard part. I had to make choices and none of them easy.. there are sort of reasonably priced nautical chart books available, scale @ 1:50,000 showing all of the Nautical information that one could possibly hope for! These charts do have several drawbacks that essentially make them un-usable for seakayking purposes as is.
Size: they are larger than A3 size, way too big to fit the kayak deck or any of the commercially available waterproof map cases.
Material: some form of semi hard paper/cardboard which doesnt take too well to being folded repeatedly. Maps being over-sized, they NEED to be folded IF used in kayaking.. dilemma
Information: being navigational maps they mostly have ONLY information in regard to nautical navigation. Nature preserves, restricted bird preserves, camping areas etc ARE not marked..
SO with these kinds of charts the only option is to buy them, scan them, print, add missing required information and then in the end laminate them! An awful lot of extra work for something that one has paid for in the begining..
Yes, maybe I have been a wee bit naughty and done as described as above, I can neither confirm nor deny… 😉
To some areas of the finnish coast there are nautical charts printed on weatherproof plastic which are almost at the A3 size,scale @ 1:55,000 which as is, works reasonably well.. however these also have the same problem as their paper brethren. Only navigational information printed on map! Now being plastic sheets I have yet to find a permanent ink pen which markings will last longer than 1 paddling season…. so these maps also need some work!
Map set 1 .
Starting from Virojoki towards Hamina there is no ready made map for paddling use. Sea Chart is available paper printed @ 1:50,000. Camping sites, No-GO nature preserve markings need to be penned in afterwards…
Map set 2.
From Hamina to Hanko, Karttakeskus offers a ready printed on weatherproof plastic ring-binder type @ 1:55,000 scale. Basicly this is OK. it has the nautical, navigational markings. It is slightly bigger than A3 sized which is about optimal for kayaking use. However it is missing restricted areas, nature preserves and camping areas, also it is very difficult to make lasting markings on said plastic as almost all “waterproof” marked markers aren’t really very waterproof at all on a weeklong seakayaking trip. Just about all over the selfmade markings will wear off at some point. Also it is pretty heavy for kayaking use. To boot it is pretty expensive, list price is around 149 €…
Map set 3.
So I was missing a bit between Hanko-Kasnäs, Her I used an old 1:50,000 scale sea chart I’d bought back in 2009. It seems a bit of an overkill for this small portion of the trip. I used adhesive bookcovering plastic to give some protection for the map. I think this map cost 20€ back in the day. Miising markings added as required
Map set 4.
Kasnas-Uusikaupunki . I had to buy the set (Sea Chart set D, Turunmaa) of maritime charts for the area in question. The cost was about 49 € for the set. Scale is 1:50,000 ringbinder, size is larger than A3, also it is printed on a stiff cardboard like paper which has no weather resistance whatsoever, and once folded will leave a crease that will eventually break off! As is, this map is not suited for paddling in anyway whatsoever…
Map Set 5.
Uusikaupunki-Tornio North of Uusikaupunki the coast becomes less dotted with islands and at this stage I figured that maybe the accuracy of 1:100,000 maps should be enough for my purposes. Also at this stage I was broke, so I had to DIY the maps entirely. To my luck the National Land Survey of Finland (NLS) had released some digital map data for the public use in 2013! I was able to download Topographical maps of the rest of the coast in 1:100,000. After I had the map rasters, I needed to spend lotsa time playing around with PhotoShop to get the rest of the coast in A3 size @ about 1:100,000. This time around the problem with the NLS material was that while they had most restricted zones, nature preserves etc marked they lacked all maritime navigational markings as well as water depth lines… GRrrrr !! Apart from the printing and laminating cost, I got these maps for free.
With the above set of modified, DIYied, bought maps I should be fairly well set for the trip. total weight of the map package is 2.18 kg. It is a pretty heavy package, but I intend to mail used portions back home as the trip progresses.
…. Ofcourse there is the option of using the GT bicycling maps scaled @ 1:250,000, currently a set covering the entire finnish coast costs approx under 60 €uros 😀