Friday, 31 May 1985


In 1984 I was completing my basic schooling from class 9 at St. Olofsskolan i Åbo. It was the only Swedish speaking school in my hometown and all with Swedish as mother tongue was attending this school. Even some Finnish speaking parents opted to put their kids through Swedish school so they would learn the language. Anyway, towards the last semester the study coordinator of whatever the persons name was started briefing us kids of where to go and start higher studies.

Åbo Navigations Institut

We were given a book with all technical schools, institutes, universities, colleges etc. In there you could see what average you needed to get in and so on. I was a bad student in those days and had a very poor average somewhere around 6.5 (min 4 - max 10) plus I had no idea of what I wanted to be when I grow up.

We were also sent on study trips to different schools around Turku to see what they are doing and let the school tell what they are about. I can only recall my study trip to the Åbo Navigations Institut, the Nautical College. I liked the miniature boats and ships in display casings as well the presentation that was given of the school. Lastly we were taken to an auditorium and asked if we had any questions. I remember asking what a Captain was earning and the reply was around 10.000 Finnish marks (around 2500USD), to my 14yr old ears it sounded like a huge amount of money and in those days it was not a bad salary but I still was not deciding on becoming a sailor.

Some months later the last semester was coming to an end and we had to fill in the papers to apply for other schools, becoming an uneducated laborer was out of the question, we had apply somewhere. My mother wanted me to study for architecture as I was not bad in drawing stuff but I found it uninteresting. I was leafing through the book and could not find one occupation that was even remotely appealing until I came to the page of Åbo Navigations Institut. So, then I remembered the tour we had done and I felt there was something in it so I filled in my application for going studying to become General Rating.

My mother was horrified and had talks with me that if I go this route I have to go higher than rating as seamen were guys who only were interested in 2 things: booze and pussy. She made me also apply to a general education Institute in the Archipelago in case I would not make it and in fact I was put on the standby list as they had a full complement of applicants. The whole summer I was then working at a general store in Nagu selling hardware and had no idea of where autumn was going to take me.

Autumn came and leaves were starting to turn red and yellow and finally falling off trees when I got the information that I had been accepted to the Rating course at Åbo Navigations Institut. We started early August but there were no other students as the Officers and Captain students were still out sailing so they would be coming later in the month.

Lita at Long Beach Roads 1983, pic by Raimo Mäkinen

Lita at Long Beach Roads 1983, pic by Raimo Mäkinen

We had a lot of practical works to do and at times were sent to ships to work as apprentices while in port. I remember working on Henry Nielsens m/s Lita, one of the famous ships built 1975 in Sevilla, Spain. It was a nearly 200m long bulk carrier that could load 35000DWT. We were there helping it getting ready for it's last voyage. She went from Turku to load cargo in Yxpila and from there I suppose she never came back to Finnish waters or flag. It was a huge ship in my eyes and also in those days.

s/s Borea

The other famous ship I was working on was s/s Borea, a passenger liner between Turku and Stockholm. She was one of Bore Lines original ships and had been acquired by another Company to try and restore her fame on the same route. I recall how we used to do various work in the Engine room or on deck chipping rust but the perk was that we got to use the sauna afterwards and somebody always managed to get hold of a few beers.

Our teachers for professional subjects was Captain Kurt Eksten and Engineer Ralf who was a good team and they instilled in me the ideas of self discipline and work ethics and it has carried me forward in my life until this day...

»»  read more