Respecting nature, boating safely, landing, camping, lighting fires and litter-free hiking – once you have mastered these, you are ready to head out for a boat trip.
1) Respect nature and the restrictions and prohibitions that protect it. Leave nesting birds alone.
Moving about, particularly when landing, will be restricted in the spring to ensure that birds and other animals will be left alone during their nesting and breeding season. Particularly in protected areas, it is prohibited to land on many islands, islets and shorelines. A red or yellow warning sign will often be posted in these areas.
Even if you are not landing, keep your distance from animals and their nests/dens. If a bird leaves its nest as you approach in your boat, you are too close. Keep your pets on a leash to protect nature and, especially, nesting birds.
2) Know your boating rules!
Safety is crucial when planning a boating excursion. Know the rules for right-of-way and other boating rules. Know your navigation aids both on charts and on the water. If your electronic chartplotter fails, it is good to know on which side of a marker buoy you should pass. Boater Safety Guide (raja.fi) is an excellent resource!
In case of an emergency, call the Maritime Rescue Coordination Centre at +358 294 1000. In inland waters, call the national emergency number 112.
3) Prepare carefully when heading out on the water.
Do you have a chart on board? Do you know how to read it? Boat safety equipment, distress signals and lifejackets/flotation devices are boating necessities. Make a route plan and find out what services are available at your rest areas. A majority of the official landing sites maintained by Metsähallitus are very modest excursion harbours. If you are planning to land at a rest area maintained by Metsähallitus, check its available services beforehand at nationalparks.fi.
4) Anticipate and plan.
Before setting out, check the weather information and follow it whenever possible. Remember - the weather can change very quickly, especially in the summer. Find out about land ownership status, possible landing prohibitions and other restrictions in place.
5) Preferably land at official landing and campfire sites marked on the map.
It is sometimes difficult to know who is maintaining the rest area. The availability of services at a given site depends on who is maintaining it. In national parks and other Metsähallitus protected areas, boaters will find campfire sites which usually include a campfire ring, firewood shed and dry toilet. Location-specific information can be found on the nationalparks.fi website under Services for each site.
If you choose to land elsewhere, check for any restrictions concerning movement and landing. Protected areas are usually not physically marked.
Please note: During the boating season of 2020, the services of the campfire sites maintained by Metsähallitus have been reduced due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Before starting your trip, read the Guidelines Concerning Coronavirus COVID-19. Keep your distance from others (at least 2 metres) and maintain good hand hygiene at campfire sites.
6) Respect others on the water.
Always take other people into consideration. Reduce your speed when approaching a harbour or landing site. Keep your distance from private beaches. Watch your wake! No matter how much you are enjoying a summer evening, please keep in mind that sound carries very well across the water. Moor your boat so that others will also have room to moor. Take others into consideration not only on the water, but also at landings, campfire sites and harbours. Keep your pets on a leash to protect nature and respect the privacy of others.
7) Only make campfires at designated and marked campfire sites.
Everyman’s Right does not include lighting campfires - you will need permission from the landowner to do so. In national parks and other Metsähallitus protected areas, campfires may only be made at designated and marked campfire sites and only when there are no forest fire warnings in effect.
8) Never light a campfire when there is a forest or grass fire warning in effect.
The current warning status is not posted at campfire sites maintained by Metsähallitus. It is your responsibility to check the current status of warnings (fmi.fi, Finnish Meteorological Institute). Never make an open fire when there is a warning in effect.
9) Leave no trace and empty the latrine container responsibly.
Waste collection is not one of the services provided by national parks and other Metsähallitus sites. There are no waste receptacles or septic tank discharge stations at the sites and excursion harbours.
10) Share responsible social media photos of your boat trip.
Summer in Finland rewards water users with spectacular scenery and vibrant sunsets. It is fine to share these moments, but please first check to see if your photo sets a good example for others. Use your photos to help others enjoy lake and sea nature - responsibly.