Fw: RESTLESS HAS CROSSED SWEDEN ON THE GOTA CANAL 58.28N 16.24E
Restless of Auckland
Roland and Consie Lennox-King
Thu 18 Jun 2009 18:30
We left Gőteborg's Lillabommen marina in the centre of town by the Operahouse on 2 June with our friend Emma on board, planning to cross Sweden from west to east, ending in Stockholm. The first day we passed through the industrial part of town and stopped up the Gőta river at Ladugardshőlmen. We motored some 50 miles to go 25 in strong headwinds with a 2knot rivercurrent against us. The second day we locked up our first lock at Lilla Edet, and a further 4 locks, each about 7 metres to stop at Trőllhaten, where we paid 800 kroner for this first part of the trip, then another lock up to reach Lake Vanern. This lake is the third biggest in Europe. Many yachtsmen go up from the west coast to cruise the lake for weeks on end. We found the lake surprisingly rough, cold, rainy and squally, and after a 40 mile beat anchored in a quiet marshy bay at Jarlehusudde, where Roland had an icy swim.
From there we motored two days later in beautiful sunshine through the exciting Ekenskargard, small rocky islands, to the formidable Läckő Slott (castle), where we anchored under the walls. This huge landmark once controlled this whole part of Sweden and can be seen for miles around. Emma's parents Mona and Lars drove up from Gothenburg to spend a night aboard and take Emma home to her summer job. We sailed on to Sjőtorp, the entrance to the Gőta canal, having covered nearly 120 n.miles from Gőteborg.
We arrived on Monday morning, 8 June, the start of the summer season, to be met by a beautiful Swedish lass who had a Kiwi boyfriend. We became convinced that half of the young eager staff the Canal authority employs had been to NZ and we were well looked after. The fee for Restless was a whopping 8,150 kr, but did include 20 marina stops with free showers and laundries. We locked up 8 locks together with 3 other boats, a folkboat beside us was in danger of being squeezed, so we stopped at Lyrestad. This was a short day as the Mate was exhausted with all the stress.
From the next day on we locked on our own, which was a lot easier. The next day, after probably the best scenery of the trip, we stopped for the night at a quiet loop of the river at Lanthojden near Wassbacken; eleven locks that day. The following day was wet and windy so it was declared a maintenance day, which Roland used to work on the generator and the pesty broken freshwater pipes. Alongside us in the idyllic spot was a nondescript obelisk which marked the highest point of the canal at 92m above sea level. From there we motored alongside an ancient causeway in beautiful Lake Viken, to Forsvik (92 m. high) before going into Lake Vattern.
This extremely deep lake is only some 14 miles across, but is some 60 miles long. It was nice to be able to sail again as we reached across the lake in the late afternoon sun to moor in the moat of Vadstena Slott (built in 1550s) only to be greeted by a Dutch couple on a ketch who were about to move to Gisborne NZ!! The town was once a Swedish capital on the main route from north to south. We cycled around the town with its huge, partly preserved cloistered abbey from the 1300s. It is famous for its lace.
The sun of the day before gave way to rain and howling headwinds, but we motored in the late afternoon to Motala. By chance we arrived in time for the start of a 300km bike race around Lake Vattern, with more than 19,000 competitors cycling in the cold and rain through the night!!! Our Danish friend Mogens arrived in his boat 'Bat', on his way to Stockholm. We have met up in many places and hope to meet up in many more.
Our friend David M. joined us late on 13 June and next morning we locked down 8 locks through the heart of Sweden's wheat and corn belt and huge farm complexes to arrive in Berg. The next day in a strong wind and freezing temperatures we queued to lock down Berg's famous 7 lock staircase into Lake Roxen, where we anchored for the night off the ruins of Douglas Castle. We all went for a walk ashore, where we saw a black snake, much to Consie's horror!! The Douglases came from Scotland in the 1600s to help the Swedish King fight his wars and stayed to become a dominant family in Sweden. The family still remain here, with a very lovely estate, which the public are allowed to enjoy.
A motor across the lake saw a nervous young lock-keeper open the rail bridge of the main trunk line. As one passes one can look at eye level along the track which trains travel at over 100 kph every 10 minutes, a very responsible job, but he was not at all worried about it!! We then did 12 locks to arrive that afternoon at Sőderkoping, which was a major city 500 years ago. It was well worth a visit and we delayed the next morning to explore the ancient city that has kept a lot of its charm.
Two more easy locks down brought us to Mem, at the eastern end of the Gőta canal. We did not intend to stop, but its rural charm and the thought of power and a last night of showers where we tied up to a calm non-tidal stone wall was too good to resist. Our final lock into the Baltic was at opening time ie 9am on 18 June to be farewelled by yet another attractive Swedish girl.
The sunny morning turned to rain as we motored past the ruins and tower of Stegeborg Slott. We then sailed in cold wind and rain north through thousands of islands to stop for hot soup, hoi loongs and cooked dinner by Lindőja island. We are on our way to Oxelsund where David is to leave us and we will continue to Stockholm, another 100m or so from the canal, a fact lost on most. We then plan to cruise north through the Mälaren (lake) and enter Stockholm from the west. We hope to be there by the end of the month.
Canals are built by engineers, so by their nature they are full of statistics, and this part is for James L-KS and his friends. The canal was the brainchild of Count Baltzar von Platen, to avoid the tax levied by Denmark on every ship passing through their waterways. The Count died shortly before the canal was completed. It was built from 1810 to 1832, by 58,000 soldiers, who built 87km of it by hand using metal-plated wooden spades, removing 8,000,000 cubic metres of earth, and blasting 200,000 cubic metres of rock. There are 58 locks and the Gőta canal stretches 190 km. It is 92 metres high at the highest point, at Forsvik. Oh, and the Gőta canal seems to have a policy of employing the most gorgeous young lock-keepers, many of whom have been to New Zealand.