Lelle’s Eurotrip – 2016 Part I (Finland)
Living in beautiful Tulum is a great thing. Having the closeness to all the caves and the Mexican way of life is awesome! But going back to the roots from time to time is equally awesome. This summer I headed back to Europe for some super nice cave and mine diving. This was not only some stunning diving but allowed me to dive something new and different from the diving I have been recently doing. It’s important for me to keep the diversity in my own diving on a high level, as it adds to what I can bring back to share with my students and colleagues from an instructional and experience point of view.
Malmö, a southern town of Sweden is basecamp and ground zero, and center of the universe for all of you that did not already know. My journey started here with packing the car before making the 1102km (one way) trip to Lohja and Ojamo mine in Finland. Every time it’s time to do some traveling you are always faced with the same fact, LOGISTICS… When you decide to make the journey by driving a car you think you are on the safe side and always stack a massive pile of stuff to bring, thinking there is lots of room in the car. And like a letter in the mailbox you are always faced with the same outcome, you need a larger vehicle, you can never ever have ENOUGH room…
Well, after a few hours of logistical magic it was time to head off! Now this trip involves a ferry crossing from Sweden to Finland, where you catch the ferry from Stockholm to Åbo during nighttime. This crossing alone could have probably been an article by itself , however let’s not go there this time!
So, once setting foot on Finnish soil very early in the following morning, arriving to a very sleepy town of Åbo, there was not a single person in sight in any direction. So with sleepy eyes disembarking from the ferry, what better way is there to wake up to some hardcore Finnish heavy metal music that is playing on the radio. And the singing which you can occasionally hear between all the screaming is of course in Finnish. If you are sleepy in the mornings, try this, it’s 100% going to wake you up.
Finishing the last leg of the journey, driving through a beautiful and sunny Finnish countryside which was almost deserted at this early hour. Heavy metal is pumping and the Swedish crew has high expectations and super eager to get to the mine.
Arriving at the destination Ojamo mine, we were greeted by some very happy faces welcoming us. It was an absolutely beautiful and sunny morning, and looking at the mirror flat surface of the small lake immediately just makes you want to jump in and dive. We were given a site and logistical briefing from the Finnish crew and then quickly started to dig out all the equipment from the cars. Finding everything and putting it together went fairly quickly, and voila, it’s time for making a dive plan. We studied the map of Ojamo, and listened carefully, getting all the information about our dive route. Once that was done, it was time to hit the water starting off by hauling down all the equipment to the platform.
Scooters, stage and deco tanks were put in the water. In a logistical sense one can not ask for a better setup than this, the parking is more or less just next to the lake and the platform. In the water there is an additional platform lowered so you are standing in about waste deep water. There’s a strong wire running along the entire platform which makes scooter and stage/deco “parking” extremely easy.
The entire logistical setup in Ojamo is very well thought through and superbly executed. There are several points of entry to the mine which are located with big buoys attached to metal wires to the surface. Under water there is a very nice and solid deco station made by metal bars at 6M. There is also a very nice permanent deco habitat to sit inside when having a long final deco stop, this would be especially great during wintertime when the temperature in the lake drops to the chilly 3-4 degrees that the mine sports all year round. There are lines running in open water to connect all the different stations in the lake which makes navigating around the different points very easy. All in all, the logistics are like a gift from above!
There is no better music in my ears then to hear the words “OK, let’s go diving” with the strongest Finnish accent you could possibly imagine. As mentioned the water temp sits at a fairly steady 3-4 degrees year round inside the mine. During the summer time the open water lake can get to temperatures up to 17-20 degrees. So you don’t really have to be Einstein to figure out what time of year is best for those deco stops that pile up when you spend some time inside the mine. Very nice to feel crispy and alive during the dive being so spoiled by Mexican temperatures, but at the same time, feels good to do decompression thawing back to life.
We spent a couple of days criss crossing through the various shafts and break rooms. I have to point out that having a scooter here makes for the best dives, as it allows you to cover some distance. It is an absolutely beautiful place with lot’s of nice old mining history. And everything is nice and intact due to the protection of the water.
My hat goes off to the Finnish crew! In terms of hospitality, logistics etc. this was truly amazing!
For sure this is definitely a place to revisit for more awesome diving. But for now, it’s time to continue the journey! Next stop, Molnar Janos cave in Budapest, Hungary.
To be continued…
Divers in Finland: Lelle, Aron, Andreas & Daniel