Eckerö Line Nordlandia

I’m back. And what a trip it was! I’ll only comment the end till now:

Today, thursday, 16. of July, I took the perhaps 1000 people carrying Eckerö Line Nordlandia ferry from Tallinn to Finland, crossing the 80 km wide Gulf of Finland. It left at 17:00 and estimated time of arrival was 20:30.

Medical Emergency

There was a medical emergency on board. A coast guard helicopter was called and it arrived much later when the ship was already visibly close to Helsinki. Perhaps an hour away? I can always check the date of the photos and videos later (tomorrow). There was a long time between the announcement and the helicopter actually being visible. I think one person was winched down from the heli, as well as some equipment. Much earlier, not much after leaving Tallinn, I (and many others) had seen a fainted woman being transported on a wheel chair in the main ballroom, and many speculated it was her who was the medical emergency person. I do not know yet.

I will upload video of the helicopter hovering tomorrow. It was quite close to some of the deck structure. I think it was a pretty small one, Bell Sky Ranger or related model. Definitely not super Puma or any modern enclosed rear rotor one.

Blackout

Later, when approaching the Ruoholahti western harbour, the ship experienced some electrical problems. I was already on the car deck and most of the lights went off. Many lights on ships have inbuilt batteries that keep them on for some time even when the power goes off so it didn’t get dark really. I just thought it wasn’t anything big. If I remember correctly, the lights came back on, went back off, then came to stay back on.

Then I remember hearing distinct strong rattling sounds. I thought it was the sideways propellers for maneuvering, but it turned out later that they probably were the anchor chains being dropped. The ship didn’t shake at any point so I don’t think there was any contact with anything. (I’ve been on a ship (much smaller though) that hit underwater rocks, and it jumped up strongly, and also sounded a lot different.)

Since I still was waiting for my friend who was the car owner and had the keys, I was getting impatient and went back up a few floors (one pneumatic door didn’t work but the adjacent did, I don’t know if this was caused by the blackout or not) and phoned him (it’s impossible to find anyone on such a ship). He said he was at the stern and we weren’t going to land anytime soon. So I went there. And finally there were announcement on the speakers on all the languages (Finnish, Swedish, Estonian, English) that they are experiencing electrical problems, are anchored in front of the pier and are waiting for tugs to come help and it’s just an inconvenience.

We could literally see the pier about 200 m in front of us from the rear of the ship while waiting for the tugs to tend our disabled ship in. It had already turned around to back into its slot behind the faster green Tallink ship (that would have cost doubly for us, but would have left later and arrived earlier!), when the blackout apparently hit. A dangerous situation.

Eventually two tugs, Hektor and Protector (or some such) arrived and ropes were thrown and we were put safely to the intended spot on the pier and could go to land.

Conclusion, Speculation

It could have been much more dangerous though. I’m not clear what maneuvering capability remained during and after the blackout.

If it had happened for example when crossing paths with some tanker or other ferry in the very busy gulf of Finland, a large accident could have happened in a very short time frame. I also don’t know what would have happened if it had hit the pier with a swinging motion. It is always very potentially dangerous when a vessel becomes unable to maneuver.

I think this is a serious incident and should be investigated thoroughly. It’s good that there are mandated safety systems on ships like lights with batteries, anchors etc. They were definitely helpful in this case.

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4 Responses to Eckerö Line Nordlandia

  1. Justina says:

    Thank you for information. I was planning to go by the Nordlandia ferry to Helsinki, but thanks to your post I will not go by it. Looks like too dangerous. It is better to pay more and go by the Tallink ferry.

    • gravityloss says:

      Hey, it probably isn’t that bad every time! I guess it is a cost vs quality trade – the more money you have and the more often you do the trip, the faster you want to go.

      Hope you like it in Helsinki, I don’t know what’s the most exotic thing to see for a person coming from Lithuania. The Suomenlinna coastal fortress is perhaps something I’d tour if the weather is good, with friends. One can have a picnic there too. Feel free to ask if there’s anything you need information on, I’ll be here again for a while.

  2. Justina says:

    I bought Tallink ferry tickets already. It is a pitty that there is no direct line from Klaipeda port to Helsinki. We have seaway only to Germany (Kiel) and Sweden (Karlsham). There was some speculations about the seaway from Lithuania to Finland few years ago, but it is still just some pocket of empty promises.

    Great recommendations. Sure, I am going to visit Suomenlinna, Lutheran Cathedral, Porvoo village. What else? Also, I am very interested in Kiasma Museum of Contemporary Art. I will be 12 days in Helsinki, many days to go around the place.

    By the way, there is one strong myth in Lithuania, that Helsinki is very expensive city and Finland as country in general. For instance, doing shopping, going to bars, using public transportation, etc. Is that really true?

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