We have celebrated this Christmas in Helsinki. Irene is on hard at Apataki atoll, where we left her 13 months ago. When we came to Finland 13 monts ago, our first job was to move Tapio's mother to a service apartment, as she could not live alone in the house any more. Her Altzheimer is proceeding rapidly and now she is in a queue for relocation to a more hospital like nursing home. We had return tickets to Tahiti on 19th April, but at that time we had so many unfinished projects underway that we decided to postpone our return.The most important of them was to ensure the support from social security to Tapio's mother. Our 10 month long fight against bureaucracy ended in the middle of November when she finally got the decision of participation to her nursing home fees from social security. The problem was simply the slowness of decision making in the civil service department.
We had a big storm exactly one year ago, which blew down many trees on our forest land in northern Finland. We spent the winter months making logs of them transporting them by snowmobile to the nearest road for sale. Our small consulting company Geopros is still active, although it is mainly run by Tapio's brother. However, last spring we had so much work that Tapio worked all April and May at Geopros. Then we started a major maintenance with our Finnish sailing boat s/y Isohukka. It is an old half tonner, which has been used by our sons during recent years. They have been too busy or lazy to do anything but absolute minimum yearly maintenace to the boat and it was time to catch up. Late June and early July we spent in the forest again planting new trees and cleaning an area which was planted 5 years ago of unwanted birch plants (it is called weeding in gardens), while our sons sailed onboard Isohukka. From middle of July to the end of August we sailed with Isohukka in Finnish archipelago and had mostly lousy weather. Then we travelled to the forest cabin again to pick mushrooms and lingonberries. We did also forest work thinning young forest (appr. 30 years), which produced a large amount of firewood. Renovation of the house in Helsinki has taken our time since that.
We attended the wedding of our younger son in October, and as a wedding present we promised to give to the young pair:
- flight tickets Helsinki-Papeete-Helsinki
- ferry tickets Papeete-Apataki onboard a small freighter in extremely uncomfartable 4 person cabin
- a sailing trip in lumpy seas from Apataki to a destination of their choice
- mainly self caught fish and coconuts for food
Our son Jyri and his wife Outi are now arranging an extended holiday for next April-May. This means that we want to be back in Apataki to prepare the boat for sea at least a month earlier regardless of the condition of Tapio's mother. The climate is quite favorable for storage of boats in Tuamotu, but we still expect many problems with the boat after 15 month storage. Our current plan is to leave Helsinki 4th March and travel to Apataki onboard the freighter Cobia 3 on 8th March 2013.
We realise that the probability of a quick return to Finland for funeral and all consequent legal matters is growing every day. Irene has only 3 months left of the 24 month tax-free stay in French Polynesia, which is a serious limitation for our near future plans. Therefore we started the papeetenisation process of Irene, which means paying import taxes and getting permission for unlimited stay in French Polynesia for the boat. We as persons do not need visa there because we are European Union citizens. Slowness of bureacracy seems to be worldvide, because we started the process in May, and it is not finished yet. Unlimited time for the boat to stay in FP will give us more freedom with our voyaging plans. We really like the area, especially Tuamotu. Many people do not like Tuamotu because "there is nothing", but that is exactly the reason why we like it. There are beautiful lagoons and beaches, clear and clean sea, plenty of fish and very few local habitants and other boats. We have to be selfsufficient there, because for example diesel is hard to get and the tiny shops in villages do not normally sell any fresh goods. Diesel is not a problem for us, we use typically only 100 l per year, solar and wind energy cover the rest of our needs. We will probably stay in FP one or two years more and then continue the Coconut Milk Run. On the long term we definitively want to sail Irene back to Finland, but only slightly before we are too old to do it.
We started this as a Christmas letter, but we realise that Christmas is over already, so lets call it New Year letter. We have now over half meter snow in Helsinki, and we spent our time shovelling snow instead of writing during the festive season.
HAPPY NEW YEAR!
Eeva and Tapio Hämäläinen