A Nordic Ferry

Words: Laura Pendlebury | Photography: Mirko Nicholson


Standing on the edge of the rickety, wooden jetty I quickly began to realise I was unprepared and badly dressed for the freezing chill rushing through the air. My cotton gloves provided my hands with little warmth and my fingers were slowly turning numb. My coat, although thick, gave me none of the insulation I needed when battling such temperatures. I pulled my hat further down to cover my face and wrapped my huge scarf over my mouth in a final attempt to protect my skin from the conditions it was having to face. 

I watched the small ferry arrive, floating slowly through the broken sheets of ice which littered the ocean. The short boat trip to Suomenlinna, jam packed full of people during the balmy, endless summer days, was deserted. Only a few people were braving the journey today. As I ducked inside the small cabin I was provided with a few moments of welcome relief from the biting air; the feeling returned to my fingers and my cheeks turned pink and started to tingle. 

Peering out the misted windows, there was a stillness in the surrounding air as we travelled slowly back through the fractured ice. The majority of the inhabitants of Helsinki, people and animals, were indoors embracing hyyge and enjoying the warmth of their apartments. 

The boat arrived at it’s destination and I walked quickly over the small island. Having visited many times before I knew my way around, and had one particular destination in mind. There is a small gap between islands through which the Viking line and Silja line ferries have to pass through on their way to Stockholm and Tallin. Climbing through a stone window and carefully sliding down onto the icy rocks, I cautiously picked my way over to the edge of the island and waited. 

In the distance I could see the first majestic ferry approaching, looming through the grey mist. The fragile sheets of ice which had formed overnight were no match for the huge metal prow of the ship, splintering and shattering as the ship powered past. It sped through the small gap between the islands, leaving a wake of broken ice behind it. The sea rose and fell rhythmically, before settling and the ice began to form once more. Cold, but exhilarated by the experience, I turned and slowly began my walk back to the little wooden jetty.

StoryRucksack Magazine