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By Pam Hobbs

Helsinki, Finland: At 9.15 on a sunny Sunday morning, Helsinki's harbour is far busier than the city's streets. A ship from Stockholm has just left on its all-day journey. Locals are off with picnics to neighbouring Suomenlinna Island. Sightseeing cruises and a water bus to the zoo are popular on such a fine weekend. And an American group waits impatiently for a canal cruise that will take them into an archipelego with wooden summer homes perched on their private little islands. As for me, I am heading for Olympic Pier to join several hundred others in line the m.s. Georg Ots, due to depart Helsinki at 10.30 and arrive in the Estonian capital of Tallinn, four or five hours later.

Few tourists come to Finland without spending part of their vacation on water, whether to get from here to there or to enjoy sights along the way. On the Georg Ots, most passengers are Finns with Estonian roots. Theirs is a regular pilgrimage to friends and relatives.