Maps for the Finnish coast

These maps pretty much cover the whole coast. total weight 2.18kgs

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 isles map set. printed on water resistant paper, A3, ringbinder, 1:50,000
Kokkola isles map set. printed on water resistant paper, A3, ringbinder, 1:50,000
  1. 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

    Setail of Kokkola maps
    Detail of Kokkola isle mapset
  2.  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.

    Detail of the Qvarken mapset
    Detail of the Qvarken mapset
  3. 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
    Porkkala-Helsinki-Pelllinki paddling map

    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.
. 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…

DIY map set

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  😀


Helsinki Boat Show goodies

Some maps.. always a good thing!
Some maps.. always a good thing!

I visited the Helsinki Boat Show. It has been 17 years since my previous visit. A lot has changed since. A lot of it for the better. This post however has nothing to do with the merits of the boat show, rather about some goodies I found there, maps!!!

Being a paddler who spends alot of time on the waters  traveling from point A to point G Via Points X, Y and Z, I am somewhat obsessed about good quality maps. Yes, the printed variety that do not require wi-fi, 3G or a battery to operate! Sure I have a GPS, but that I use to log and track where I have been.  Not so much of where I’am going.  Yes yes..  in otherwords I’am a dinosaur navigator.. but if it ain’t broke…?

Traditionally printed maps in the Finnish hemisphere have been prohibitively expensive,  however during the recent years that has been changing for the better.. maps are becoming more affordable. Another thing traditionally has been that there have not been that many maps or charts that are suited for the paddler! Now .. sloooowly this too is changing !

I bought three maps from the boat show;  Porkkala-Helsinki-Pellinki 1:50 000, Canoeing Map, An inland waterway chart 1:50,000 Puula  and a ring binder set of charts printed on weatherproof plastic for the waterways area between Varkaus and Kuopio @ 1:55,000.

The latter was on sale for 29 €. This particular set of charts was of an area I have planned to paddle in the future but lacked any maps. So it was a “must have” purchase.  the bonus of this set is that it is slightly larger than A3 size and printed onto solid plastic sheets. As is it is suitable to be used on a kayak deck, as long as a safety line keeps it attached to the deck. Does not require water proof packing.

The Puula region inland waterway chart is a standard inland waterway map which is suitable for paddling use, even though it isn’t a particularly designed for it. It has the standard maritime chart markings and navigational aids. This one is printed on paper and needs to be used within a waterproof maps case while on the water

Porkkala-Helsinki-Pellinki paddling map
Porkkala-Helsinki-Pellinki paddling map

The Porkkala-Helsinki-Pellinki 1:50 000, Canoeing Map is aimed particularly aimed for paddlers. The map is printed onto weatherproof paper basicly could be used as is, but it is always  good practice to use it in a map case which can be attached onto the deck, so that it stays with the kayak in case of a sudden wind gust or rogue wave.

Sample of the map
Sample of the map

The map is clearly marked with the boating+shipping lanes,  restricted military areas, camping areas, protected nature preserves, shallows and pretty much all the standard topographical map data.  Pretty much everything a paddler needs!

This chart will definitely be on the upcoming summers Finnish coastal paddle!

Thus far there arent too many of these “paddlers choice” maps, but hopefully with time these will become available to other areas around Finland.