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At sea, Finnlines crew

Assistance at Sea: Finncanopus Provides Fuel to Fuji Sailing Boat

A tiny, battered sailing boat floats next to a gigantic passenger-cargo ship. The mast of the boat is broken. On the open sea, no other vessels, let alone land, are in sight. Soon, fuel and a dessert typical for a Thursday will be transferred to the sailing boat with the help of a rope. What exactly is going on?

Sailing the world’s seas can lead to all sorts of events, including unexpected encounters. The luck of Ari Känsäkoski, a Finnish Global Solo Challenge sailor, turned when he met Finnlines’ newest ropax vessel, Finncanopus, in the Indian Ocean. Känsäkoski needed fuel and supplies. A rapid operation was promptly initiated on Finncanopus.

Accident in the Indian Ocean

On December 22, 2023, solo sailor Ari Känsäkoski encountered rough weather with his Fuji sailing boat. The boat’s mast broke, but the skipper survived the crash without any acute emergency.

Alone at sea, one must be resourceful. Känsäkoski constructed what is known as an emergency rig, allowing him to somewhat use the remaining intact sails. In addition, he received marine diesel fuel from a Japanese fishing vessel, which, however, was not exactly the best fuel for the engine of the Fuji sailing boat, and Känsäkoski was in need of regular diesel.

Where could one find diesel in the middle of the Indian Ocean? Other vessels were rarely seen on the horizon.

Operation Pancake

The most incredible part of the encounter between Finncanopus and the Fuji sailing boat was pure chance. Finncanopus wasn’t even originally supposed to be in this part of the world! Additionally, distances at sea are vast. Something about the scale of the oceans is illustrated by Känsäkoski’s accident location in December, which was one thousand nautical miles, or nearly two thousand kilometers, from Madagascar, and thirteen hundred nautical miles from Cape Town. Support teams or the nearest port were far away.

Känsäkoski had been struggling at sea for about twenty days with a damaged boat and the wrong type of fuel. While considering his options, Känsäkoski saw a news item about Finncanopus’s route, which led him to immediately contact Timo Vanhala at Finnlines, whom he had met before. The wheels started turning. Of course, Finncanopus would help!

Finncanopus, on its way to Durban in South Africa, was able to assist. Practically, the meeting route did not even slow down the journey of our superstar. The desired diesel was available on Finncanopus, and in addition, a food package was prepared in the mess. Since it was Thursday, the menu in Finncanopus’ mess included pea soup and pancakes, as we mentioned in our previous post.

Ari Känsäkoski’s hardy Class40 Fuji sailing boat photographed from Finncanopus.
After the accident that occurred in December, Känsäkoski managed to get the broken mast on board.
During the assistance mission, Finncanopus’ captain Jyrki Repo was in contact with Ari Känsäkoski via VHF radio.
Let’s not forget the provisions! In the mess, Chef Peter Palander made sandwich snacks for sailor Ari Känsäkoski and also packed some fresh pancakes to take along.
From deck three, through the pilot door, deckhand Hardi Tiits had the honor of being the executor of the operation. Supplies and fuel were transferred to Ari’s boat using sling cloths.
The operation was completed, and Finncanopus continued its journey towards Durban, a port city on the east coast of South Africa. Photo: Ari Känsäkoski
The meeting point of Finncanopus and the Fuji sailing boat is circled. Image: MarineTraffic

Greetings After the Assistance Operation

After the encounter, it was time for Finncanopus to continue its journey towards Durban. Ari Känsäkoski stayed on his Fuji boat to examine his assistance package. Later, we heard Ari’s message about the operation.

– Finncanopus’ captain Jyrki Repo maneuvered around Fuji to smooth out the waves and stopped on the windward side so I could approach the pilot door. There was still considerable current from bow to stern, and the occasional swell made the approach challenging. After a few attempts, I safely got close enough, and a throwing line was sent to Fuji. After a quick tightening, cans began to be lowered into the throwing line with Jyrki keeping Finncanopus in slow motion, sideways towards the wind.

– After lowering the cans, I moved to a safe distance, reeled in the line, and started lifting the cans. Finncannopus also lowered kitchen souvenirs in floating cans attached to a rope, which I later picked up.

– The surprise from the ship’s galley contained fresh pancakes, sweets, and an assortment of delicious breads, which made up the tastiest dinner of the trip. A million thanks to Finnlines and the skilled crew of Finncanopus, the galley, and the captain!

The operation was successful in every way. Fuji can now continue towards Durban powered by clean diesel.

The fuel and kitchen greetings were successfully transferred from Finncanopus to the Fuji sailing boat with the help of ropes and floatation canisters. Photo: Ari Känsäkoski

Fact sheet: Global Solo Challenge

  • The Global Solo Challenge started in October from Spain
  • Ari Känsäkoski’s original goal was to sail around the world in 130–150 days
  • Känsäkoski’s boat is a single-masted Class 40 Fuji
  • Finnlines is one of the partners of the ZEROchallenge solo sailing project
  • In the fall of 2023, the Fuji boat was transported from Finland to Bilbao on Finnlines’ Finneco II ro-ro cargo ship
In September 2023, Ari Känsäkoski’s (on the right) Fuji boat was taken for transport by Finnlines. In the picture taken at the Port of Kotka, shaking hands with Finnlines’ Cargo Superintendent Timo Vanhala.