The Pilot House

After the Adolf Öhmans house, turn to the left and take the steps up to the lighthouse hill. There, on the southern side of the yellow pilot station, you can enjoy a magnificent view: the open sea with small rocky islets scattered here and there. The nearest land is the island of Hiidenmaa in Estonia, c.120km southeast of Utö.

The present pilot station was built in 1958 to replace the old wooden building partly dating back to the 1840´s. As early as the middle of the17th century, we find mention of local pilots in the ´Seabook` by Johan Månszon.

At that time, the pilots lived in Jurmo, but in the 1740´s, two families from Jurmo moved to Utö and became government pilots. Utö was part of the village of Jurmo until the end of the 19th century.

Since the middle of the 19th century, Utö has been the main gateway to the Sea of the Archipelago. The number of pilotages was at its greatest around 1970, over 2300 in a year, but today it is only half of that amount. Busy marine traffic has contributed to the reputation of Utö as a burial ground of ships.

One well-known shipwreck was that of the Draken in 1929. Draken was a 3-masted ship from Uusikaupunki that ran aground on the reef of Örebåda during a storm. Örebåda is a small rocky islet only 150 metres from the southernmost tip of Utö. The sailors managed to get onto the reef, all except one, the ship’s carpenter, who was washed away by the waves when he tried to board the lifeboat. The sea raged with relentless force for about 36 hours and the islanders had no choice but to stand helplessly on the rocky shore looking down at the ten shipwrecked sailors. When the sea finally calmed down and the islanders could go to Örebåda, five of the men had perished, either drowned or frozen to death.

The tragedy of the Draken initiated an organized marine rescue service in Finland. In 1934, a sea rescue station was established on Utö.

Among the ships wrecked on the southern side of Utö are the schooner Laura 1922, the m/s Brändö 1926, the German s/s Olivia 1942 and the m/s Torsholm 1967. In addition, there have been numerous minor accidents with no loss of ships or crew.