”We sail, we row, sometimes six man pull. When ice does not hold, we creep, for the mail must forth.”
With the Swedish crusades to Finland during the 12th and 13th centuries Åland became a natural link eastwards for Sweden, reaching from Stockholm all the way to Saint Petersburg. In 1636 Queen Kristina established the first regular postal service, the peasants along the Mail Road were part of small administrative units, and each unit was responsible for their own lot. This system was kept with certain pauses until 1910.
The peasants in Eckerö had to ship the mailbags across both the Sea of Åland and Marsund, where a bridge nowadays connects Eckerö to the rest of Åland. In the summer the journey could be enjoyable, but in the winter many men died because of thin ice and storms. The mail had to reach its destination at any cost, and those who did not obey the postal horn were put in prison.
Nowadays Postrodden is a competition arranged every summer in memory of the old postal service between Väddö and Eckerö. The first modern Postrodden was arranged the 15th of June 1974 across a sunny Sea of Åland.
Each team has to sail or row their boat as fast as possible across the Sea of Åland. But being fast is not everything: you also get points by having a boat and clothes that fit the era. Each boat also gets a mailbag with real mail!
It is summer, and if anything should happen help is to be found. But 24 nautical miles (ca 50 km) can be tough in case of a storm, wrong winds or a lull. The journey can take between 3 ½ hours to 8 hours, and good navigation skills, secure behaviour, and fitness are needed. Most of the teams return year after year: ladies and gentlemen in clothes typical of the era, ready to row their hands bloody. If you happen to be close to either the start or finish line on the right day Postrodden is a festival you cannot miss.
Read more on www.postochtullhuset.ax