How great is this!
21 July 2007
July 15 to July 20, 2007
We were not prepared for how much work going through the Göta Kanal would be. One day we went up 12 locks, and it is work. The nickname for the Kanal is "divorce ditch" because of the stress on couples in locking up and down. The sights are beautiful, and I would do it again, but only if we could spend around three weeks transiting the canal. There is just too much to see and too much history to learn about for the speed we had to travel. The day we did so many locks we were exhausted. I have uploaded a photo album of just the Kanal trip which might better illustrate what this 175-year-old canal and its locks are like.
Ideally, there should be 3 people on each boat, particularly boats like the PDQs. In the multiple locks one person should stay ashore and walk with the boat as it transits each lock so that the lines can be affixed quickly. We were lucky that we followed Rhumb Line into the first two day's locks, because their 11-year old son, Stephen, was incredibly helpful and energetic, taking Rhumb Line's lines and then running back to take ours. The lock masters are almost all students doing this as a summer job. Most of them are very helpful and competent, but some mistakes were made because they had never experienced boats like the PDQs, which behave differently than sailboats and monohulls when the water is rushing into the locks. The lead boat for the locks Watermelon transited (Rhumb Line, and another day Sno' Dog) takes the worst of the work as the water pours in and creates incredible turbulence. As it rushes past our two hulls, it swings the bow out violently, and it takes a lot of strength to hold the lines. Dave on Rhumb Line quickly decided that a second bow line to the outside hull would better control the bow, and he and his wife Beth each manned a bow line. It was still a lot of work for them, but tolerable.
Some of the high points.
There were two locks that were opened and closed by a manual system. Stephen and his six-year-old sister Erica had so much fun operating them that they stayed and did it all again for the second batch of PDQs through the locks. Oh, to be that young and energetic!
Lyrestad, just before the end of the canal, was a stop we were compelled to make because there was not enough time left that day to go through the last eight locks, which had to be done all together. The local museum at the dock was a delight. Old telephone switchboards, looms, sleighs, farm equipment, household appliances and tools, medical gear, the most unusual "washing machine"; this was a charming view of the past several hundred years of everyday life in Sweden.
Anchoring in a castle moat. In Lake Vättern our four boat mini-flotilla took a small detour to Vadstena and the castle. There is a marina along the approach to the castle and its moat, but it was full. Sno' Dog and Horizons were first on the scene, and wonder of wonders, the bridge tender opened the bridge into the moat and allowed them to tie up there. When Rhumb Line and Watermelon arrived a short time later, the bridge again
opened for us, and we toddled in to also tie up in the moat. We aren't sure why they were so kind to us, but we can't help but ask, "How great is this?" The town is very pretty, and was a welcome respite from what had been nasty weather with high winds and dark skies and spitting rain.
Touring a "real" castle at Läckö . This was another detour. After reaching the end of the canal at Sjötorp, we headed across Lake Vänern for Läckö to visit the castle. It has a long history; the foundations were laid in 1298 A.D. as a Bishop's castle. In 1527 it reverted to the crown, and was later awarded to various noblemen. The King
reclaimed it in the 17th Century (please don't hold me to this!), and it lay vacant for 100 years.