Sorry about the long delay between updates. We've been separate
from the internet since Stockholm ... some 10 days now. During
that time we've motored and sailed back down the Swedish coast
to the entrance to the Gota canal and transited the canal. At this
time of year it takes four days to complete the trip through the
canal and you must go through the canal as part of a convoy of
boats. Convoys start Monday and Thursday so if you arrive at an
entrance early you have to wait ... normally. We arrived at the
east entrance on a Saturday. There was a lock keeper on duty to
let a convoy coming the other way exit the canal. I groveled a
bit and the lock keeper let us into the canal and through the
first three locks. This was important because Andy's cousin lives
in Soderkoping which is a town at the third lock. We spent Sunday
lunching and visiting with her cousin Gunvar and her husband Gunnar.
Monday morning it was up and onward through the canal and the
rest of its some 55 locks.
A convoy transit through the canal from the east goes like this:
|Monday, 12 locks, up 27 meters and transit 29 nautical miles including
crossing lake Roxen. This is pretty cool. Locking through is pretty
easy after you figure out the technique (took us three locks to
figure it out).
|Tuesday, 22 locks, up 55 meters and transit 40 nautical miles
including crossing lake Vattern ... 13 hours, man that was a long day. A lot of locks and a long ride across
|Wednesday, 1 lock, up 3 meters and transit 16 nautical miles.
An easy day. Jack and Peggy Heady joined us this evening.
|Thursday, 20 locks, down 48 meters, transit 19 nautical miles.
An easy day because of the extra hands and going down is much
easier than going up. Enough locks already!
Here's how we lock on the way up. Andy has the end of a long line.
The other end runs through a forward cleat and back to a winch
in the cockpit. When the lock gate opens I get the boat in the
vicinity of the shore and she leaps taking the end of the line
with her. She usually makes the leap successfully then runs up
the side of the lock as I bring the boat into the lock trying
not to bounce off the walls too hard. Andy sets the end of the
line around a ring and runs back to take the stern line from Bob.
I move the boat so that Bob's stern line is more or less vertical
then I winch the forward line (Andy's line) tight. The gate closes
and as the boat rises I continue to winch in the forward line
pulling the boat forward somewhat and keeping the stern line tight.
In the end the stern line is nearly horizontal. As the boat rises
Andy BSes with the lady doing the same task for the boat just
in front of or behind us. If it's a single lock then Andy takes
her line off the ring and scrambles back aboard. Bob lets go the
aft line and off we go. If it's a series of locks then Andy and
Bob let go and Andy walks her line forward to another ring in
the next lock. There were up to 6 locks in succession in places.
Going up can be pretty wild. As the water rushes into the lock
it can tend to make the bow of your boat bounce back and forth
crazily. As the boat jumped about I alternately watched the bow
line stretch tight, trying to remember how strong it was, the
bow as it threatened first to crash into the lock wall then to
crush the small sailboat beside us and the stern as it threatened
the lock wall as well. It was tense.
Here's how we locked down. Andy made her leap, and took the bow
line as before. I moved the boat into the lock and Andy and Bob
hook their lines to appropriate rings. Same procedure as going
up. The difference was that letting the water out of the lock
causing little to no disturbance. The boat hardly moved at all.
It was a very low key process compared to going up. Having Jack
and Peggy to help made it even easier.
Seeing the Swedish countryside from the canal is unique. Generally
the canal is somewhat higher than the surrounding countryside
so one's view is unimpeded. The countryside is beautiful and absolutely
impeccably maintained. We passed under a bridge which was about
a meter higher that the top of the mast. The perspective is such
that you are absolutely certain that you're going to hit the bridge.
We also passed over a couple of roadways. It's pretty weird to
watch cars pass under the boat.
We're now in Lake Vanern, the largest lake in Sweden and the third
largest lake in Europe (what are the two largest lakes?). We spent
the night at Lacko castle and now we're motoring southwest toward
the Trollhatten canal which will take us back to sea level and
the west coast of Sweden. It's cool to have a couple of extra
hands on board.
Chuck, Andy, Bob, Jack and Peggy aboard Sister in Lake Vanern,