Not Far from Home – Destination North

There’s a common saying that life is like a wave and our existence is essentially surfing whatever kind of water comes our way. Metaphorically there may not be a better way to justify the ebbs and flows of good and bad that everyone undoubtedly experiences. What sets certain people apart though, is their ability to ride the waves in their own, unique way. Erkki Punttila knows that the best way to reset is to embrace the tides and sail away into a different mindset.

The setting is the far north of Finland in the Lapland area. It’s north of the arctic circle. It’s dark and cold; exactly what you think northern Finland would be like in the depths of autumn, except it’s also stunningly beautiful. Erkki’s path has led him to sell most of his possessions and move his life onto a sailboat. The S/y Sanibonani was built in South Africa in 1978. She has a luxurious history of cruising the Caribbean and Mediterranean, but now she’s finding her home in the cold waters of Finland. “Living aboard a sailboat has been a great experience,” Erkki said. “Extremely limited storage space makes you focus on the stuff you really need. Enjoying a sunset with good coffee really beats having eight pairs of shoes you never wear and a metric ton of random stuff around you.”

Erkki’s preferred method of transportation while in port is his Unit X. “I had the Unit on deck ready for grocery runs and the occasional bike packing trip,” he said. “In the spring, the boat was still bound in the ice so I had to haul 20-liter diesel canisters for the heater with the bike, which was no problem with a sturdy front rack.” Erkki’s need for adventure runs deep and he recently took his Unit X to explore Finland’s largest national park, Lemmenjoki. Known for its gold digging claims, Lemmenjoki spans 2,850 square km, and is peppered with huts where travelers can spend the night out of the extreme cold.

Follow along with Erkki as he traverses Lemmenjoki National park during Finland’s centennial year alongside herds of reindeer and takes in the astonishing views from one of Finland’s greatest treasures. Sometimes the best way to find yourself is to get lost in the beauty of nature.

Photographer: Jaakko Posti