There are several saunas travelling between Finland and Estonia each day inside passenger ferries, but no sauna has ever made the crossing on its own before – until now.
Janne Käpylehto, a Finnish author, inventor and energy specialist, plans to become the first person to sail a sauna across the Gulf of Finland from Helsinki to Tallinn. He expects to complete the 80-kilometre (50-mile) route in about nine hours, which will provide plenty of time to enjoy the leil (löyly in Finnish; the practice of throwing water on the stove, which will release hot steam) and cool off by jumping into the Baltic sea along the way.
The voyage won’t be easy, but Käpylehto – a former NASA engineer and serial inventor – understands the challenges ahead. He built the solar-powered sauna craft himself with the help from his friends and he will make the journey with a lifeboat, spare engine, communications equipment and an expert navigator.
The voyage will only take place once the wind speed is predicted to drop below five metres per second (11.2 mph) for three consecutive days, so he has enough time to get to Tallinn and back on calm seas.
As well as being another sauna loving nation, Käpylehto chose Estonia as the destination because he’s a big fan of the country and has spent a lot of time there visiting friends. He usually goes by the ferry, which takes between two and four hours to make the crossing.
To say that Käpylehto has an interesting background is an understatement.
After helping NASA, his specialism in material physics and reconstruction mathematics led him to become an author, inventor and serial entrepreneur. His most famous invention is the “ice carousal” machine, which can silently spin frozen surfaces – sometimes with saunas on them.
This is a lightly edited version of the article first published by Adam Rang in Medium.
Cover: Janne Käpylehto’s solar-powered sauna.