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At sea, Finnlines crew

Star in the Night: Finncanopus Shines in Naantali

A unique and eventful sea voyage came to an end when Finnlines’ newest passenger-cargo vessel, Finncanopus, arrived in Naantali.

In this post, we will go through the stages of the final leg of Finncanopus’s long sea voyage and its arrival in Naantali. We will also hear from Finncanopus’s chief mate, Risto Nuotio, who will discuss the unique features of the two-month search journey.

The Final Leg

The final leg of Finncanopus’s search journey included the sea voyage from Djen Djen in Algeria to Naantali in Finland. Along the way, it passed by the Strait of Gibraltar, the Bay of Biscay, and the English Channel. A quick bunkering, i.e., fuel replenishment, was done in Vlissingen, Netherlands, but other than that, Finncanopus completed its final leg without any intermediate stops. From Vlissingen, the journey continued through the Strait of Øresund and onward, across the Baltic Sea towards the Åland Sea.

After receiving a fuel replenishment in Vlissingen, Finncanopus continued to the Bay of Biscay, circling Denmark towards the Øresund. Image: MarineTraffic
Finncanopus passed under the Øresund Bridge on Friday, February 9, 2024, at 16:20 local time. The weather was dramatic: gray, windy, and snowy.
From the Øresund, the journey continued north, ever closer to home. Image: MarineTraffic

The Song of Ice Welcomes Home

On the world’s seas, the crew of Finncanopus had grown accustomed to waking up to the sight of dolphins and whales outside their cabin windows, or palm beaches during port calls. As they approached home waters, a strange crunching noise began to permeate the crew’s sleeping quarters. Upon closer consideration, the sound was familiar. It was just the ice crunching against Finncanopus’s sides. They had reached Finnish territorial waters.

Finncanopus arrived in Naantali on Sunday morning, February 11, 2024. Although it was a historic moment, most of the Finncanopus crew was on well-deserved rest. They had worked late the previous day and were quite exhausted.

In Naantali, there was a joyful reunion when Finnsirius returned from its work route from Kapellskär, fully loaded. The last time Finnsirius and Finncanopus had met was in Weihai.

Once both vessels were docked, and Finnsirius’s cargo had been unloaded, the crew of Finnsirius went to greet the newcomers. The experienced eye of the Finnsirius crew spotted small differences in the newer sister ship’s public spaces. However, we won’t reveal what they are just yet. Hint: it may be related to patterns. Otherwise, both Finnsirius and Finncanopus follow the same Superstar concept and are technically and service-wise similar.

Now, Finncanopus stands at the dock for a couple of days. It is being busily prepared for its maiden voyage on Friday.

Finncanopus arrived in Naantali in the early morning, Sunday, February 11, 2024.
Naantali harbor in the morning twilight. The picture is taken from the bridge of Finncanopus. The older sister, Finnsirius, has just arrived at the dock from its route.
A beautiful dawn greeted Naantali’s new star. These waters and landscapes are what Finncanopus is meant for.
Sister ships Finncanopus and Finnsirius — together again. The last time the ships had met was at the Weihai shipyard. Finnsirius operates regularly on the Naantali—Långnäs—Kapellskär route. On Friday, Finncanopus will also begin its service.

Memories from the Eight-Week Sea Voyage: Risto Nuotio Shares

On Finncanopus, our blog met with sea captain Risto Nuotio, who served as the chief mate on Finncanopus’s voyage from the Weihai shipyard to Naantali. Encountering such a

valuable expert, we had to stop Risto for a moment and ask about his feelings on the journey.

The Work

What were your duties during Finncanopus’s homeward journey?

– During the search journey, I worked under the command of the ship’s captain, Jyrki, and acted as his deputy when necessary. Together with the mates and deck crew, we took care of the vessel. We monitored and maintained its seaworthiness.

– My duties also included planning and operational management of the ship’s internal functions. During loading, my work focused on planning and leading the cargo operation.

The Crew

How did cooperation with the crew go?

– We had an absolutely fantastic team on this eventful two-month stint, who, with ironclad professionalism and good humor, managed to perform really well in all their tasks even under demanding conditions. I am proud of them all and would not hesitate for a moment to go on another trip with this crew. Maybe we will – that remains to be seen.

Our blog readers got a hint of the crew’s good spirit, for example, from how meticulously Christmas was organized far from home, or how sometimes the crew took a break and had a bit of fun, like during the equator crossing ceremony.

The Superstar

How did our superstar, Finncanopus, fare on the journey?

– Finncanopus is designed for the Naantali–Kapellskär route, and ocean sailing is not its natural environment. However, Finncanopus is a new and modern vessel that can handle even bad weather, but the journey may not be very comfortable, for example, in high seas, due to the ship’s specific features, which are not focused on ocean traffic.

– We also encountered some minor challenges in the ports we visited, for example, due to tides, but we managed to get through them all honorably by improvising.

The Voyage

Few sailors have sailed from Weihai to Naantali. Along the way, they passed, among others, the South China Sea, the Bay of Bengal, the Indian Ocean, the South Atlantic, the North Atlantic, the North Sea, and the Baltic Sea. How long was the sea journey exactly?

– The journey totaled 17,362 nautical miles, Risto informs, having just checked from the bridge.

A nautical mile equals 1.852 kilometers, meaning Finncanopus traveled over 32,000 kilometers. Such a long distance would be equivalent to crossing mainland Europe five times. The circumference of the Earth is about 40,000 kilometers, so, relatively speaking, it wasn’t far off from that journey either.

The Duration

Besides the distance traveled, what about the time spent? You departed from Weihai on Monday, December 18, 2023, and spent Christmas at sea, among other things. How did the travel time feel, Chief Mate Risto Nuotio?

– Over two months at sea sounds long, especially compared to the usual two-week shifts. The majority of Finncanopus’s crew is accustomed to these shorter two-week stints, but such a longer trip, with all its equator crossings and circumnavigations of Africa, was probably a “once in a lifetime” experience for everyone. Although we didn’t get to go ashore during the transfer trip except in Singapore and Las Palmas, traveling through exotic landscapes didn’t seem to bother anyone much. We were only in Durban for a day to pick up supplies, and we slowed down near Cape Town for a moment when Captain Jyrki’s friend came to greet us.

In addition, Finncanopus made a small course correction so that it encountered the Finnish sailor Ari Känsäkoski before the Durban stop, but assisting the solo sailor practically did not slow down the trip.

The Special Port Call

Finncanopus also had the opportunity during one of its port calls to do something that hadn’t happened yet in this millennium. Risto Nuotio continued:

– We had taken on cargo in Yantai, China, and it was unloaded in Djen Djen, Algeria. It would have been interesting to explore Algeria more, but unfortunately, that wasn’t possible this time. Finncanopus was the first passenger vessel in Djen Djen in over forty years, so the local authorities were genuinely excited about the ship and especially its cruise-level interiors.

The Crew in Neptune’s Favor

Finncanopus set off in winter weather. From Yantai, it took on cargo frosted with snow. Soon, however, Finncanopus was sailing on tropical waters, until it reached the winter Atlantic. How did the weather favor your voyage, Risto Nuotio?

– We were incredibly lucky with the weather and managed the entire trip without any significant storms. Considering the time of year, this was almost unbelievable. We must have been in Neptune’s special favor.

Neptune’s favor is no surprise, as the ship’s crew had officially joined Neptune’s ranks.

Now in Naantali, Risto is handing over the chief mate duties to the vessel’s regular chief mates.

  • Sea Captain
  • Lives with his wife in Kemiönsaari and in South Estonia, Viljandimaa
  • Followed in his sea captain father’s footsteps in his twenties
  • Has worked on passenger ships, cruise ships, ro-ro and ropax vessels, as well as on high-speed craft
  • Also worked on the GTS Finnjet in the early 2000s. (By coincidence, four other former members of Finnjet’s crew were also on Finncanopus’s retrieval journey)
  • Worked on the Naantali–Kapellskär route on Finnswan in the summer of 2023, which is a predecessor of Finncanopus
  • Continues with the Superstar project within Finnlines’ land organization
Finncanopus’s retrieval journey chief mate Risto Nuotio photographed in the Stellar Lounge, which Risto names as his favorite spot on the vessel. “The Stellar Lounge reminds me of the business lounges at airports, which became very familiar to me back when I was working on the ground.”