June 15, 2011
We have to be up and out by 9am, to get the first lockage up the flight here. 7 locks in a row to do. We travel up with 3 other boats, so 4 in the lock at a time. Luckily we seem to avoid any actual contact with them. In an up going lock, the water that enters the lock is very turbulent and boats do swing around on the lines somewhat. Between the locks we ‘walk’ the boat forward on lines, pulling it forward by hand. Its a very scenic spot.
After the flight we decide to stop and have a look around Berg. Unfortunately as we try and pull alongside the guest harbour moorings we end up on the bottom. You’d think with a 2.8m canal, they would keep the guest harbour areas a similar of greater depth – but no !
10 mins later we have been refused a coffee at the busy restaurant (can’t have been our smelly sailing clothes ), and seen enough of Berg to move on. But now we have to wait for lockage, so we console ourselves with an ice-cream, or 3. The Swedes and Danes are MAD about ice-cream. I don’t know how much they eat in winter, maybe none, but summer is a reason to continually stuff their faces with it. I have never seen such voracious ice cream eating. And I am married to Dave Keavy!!!
The rest of the day consisted of 4 double locks and then a single to enter Borensborg. The last was a manual lock, so I got off to help the Swedish lass close/open the lock gates, and wind open the sluss valves. We also had 7 bridges and 2 aqueducts to pass. The aqueducts were interesting, passing by boat over 4 lanes of traffic below – can’t imagine how weird it would look with a big yacht passing overhead. Mind you, they whizz by at 100km/hr, and we are doing about 10km/hr, so perhaps they don’t notice any more.
We arrive just before 6pm (just aswell, as they won’t do the lock to get in there after 6pm). So 9 hours on the go, for 11 NM ( or about 20km) . Bloody hell. Talk about slow !! There were no berths available, so we had to raft up, or tie ourselves to the side of another boat. In this case, a bright orange steel hulled old former tow boat. A quick jaunt around town finds the pub closed, but a handy supermarket. Dave makes his Swedish meatballs with their special light brown curryish gravy- the ingredients seem to (interestingly) include beef stock and soy sauce !!! Go figure.
June 14, 2011
A long day today. We get the 10am road bridge out of Soderkoping.
8 single locks and 2 doubles today, aswell as 8 opening bridges. The bridges not part of a lock are controlled remotely. You go close to the bridge (say 200 m) and are detected by a camera. The flashing lights tell you when they have seen you. You can hear the bells ringing as the road traffic is halted, and wait for the green light once the bridge is lifted, retracted, or rotated out of the way.
The Norsholm bridge is currently the only non opening bridge of the Gota Canal. With a clearance height of 22 (if you were paying attention to yesterday’s lesson). Now our mast is 21.65m tall. BUT we have a VHF antenna and wind indicator on top of that, another 1m. So we stop and Steve winches Dave to the mast head, where he can undo the aerial and lay it down while we pass S L O W L Y under the bridge. Its hard to see how much we missed by, but our guess is about 30cm, so their 22m must be pretty accurate. Then we stop and repeat the trip to the mast head to screw it back on.
Later we come across a high voltage power line also charted at 22m. This time we are ok without moving the antenna, as the power line sags down as it crosses the canal (actually the start of Lake Roxen), so by passing away from the centre we get a higher clearance than the 22m minimum.
Lake Roxen is 15 NM long. Unfortunately for us the wind is directly on the nose. If we sail it, will be more like 30 miles of tacking. So the poor old motor has to keep going. Its actually us that is sick of motoring. We arrive at Berg at the bottom of a flight of 7 locks at 19:30. Have been able to get the roast pork on to cook as we motored here.
A comfortable night with a stern buoy. There are 2 other boats headed in our direction tomorrow. And those going up get the first lockage. The canal hours are a very civilised 09:00 to 18:00, so we won’t have to get Steve out of bed too early.
June 13, 2011
As you can see I’m a bit behind in the blog. Partly through having some company that diverts me, and partly because I am finding it more difficult to get the photos to upload on the new apple laptop. I thought apples were supposed to make things easier ????
So I will do some writing today, and go back and add photos later.
We have a longish sail (36 NM) to the start of the canal, with good 20-25 knot winds. We get along 7 to 8 knots with just the main up and one reef in. Later the wind is ‘on the nose’ so we give away the sailing to get to our adjective, Mem.
This is the start of the Gota Canal.
Short history lesson : 190 km of canal which links Sweden’s east coast with Lake Valern. Then the Trollhate canal takes it through to the west coast at Goteborg. Built from 1810 to 1832, largely by hand by soldiers. It links up several lakes, and the total distance we will travel is 209 NM. There are 58 locks in the Gota ( 38 up and 20 down) and another 6 down in the Trollhatte. Many many opening road and rail bridges, and one fixed 22 m high bridge (importantly, more of that soon). The highest point (Lake Viken) is 92 m above sea level.
Today we do 3 single locks and tie alongside in Soderkoping. Lots of restaurants and cafes around. Aswell as close by supermarket and grog shop. A few shops for Bev to wander in. I use the opportunity to get some washing on at last. I’m nearly out of clean undies after 2 weeks on board !!!
We have dinner at a local restaurant. Pickled herring, fried herring and a seafood soup. All very nice.
Turns out to be one of our favourite stops of the canal trip.
June 12, 2011
Bev is keen on a rock moor tonight, and we have only anchored out so far. But the forecast is for a wind shift overnight, so not a good plan. So off to Harstena again. Well, why not ?Its a great harbour, and we are looking forward to showing it to Bev and Steve. We anchor in nearly exactly the same spot as our last forays.
After rising early (NOT) we head downwind at midday with the genoa up and spend the afternoon rays having a beer or 2 and crisps. “Shorts Weather Today” In fact, its the lightest breeze of three times we have visited, so a very pleasant anchorage. A few boats come in, so we have something to watch. A local fisherman checks his pots – we think with no luck.
Dave is on the pans tonight and we have a lovely steak with mushroom sauce and Bev’s salad. Its obviously a girl thing to insist on something green with dinner – Dave assumed I meant a Spendrups beer when I suggested something green (for the aussies, think Sweden’s VB).
June 11, 2011
Off to the supermarket and systembolaget to stock up for the week. We have a trolley full after an hour there. We have planned to get a taxi back to the marina, but it will take 45 mins to come . Bugger.
With too much to carry, we take our trolley and push it the 5km back to the marina, sacrificing our 5Kr deposit. Perhaps this can be a new initiation rite for the crew.
Finally we can leave Oxelosund at last.
Heading south in a SE breeze, we get the gennaker out for the first time this year. But the wind dies, and we only fly it long enough to take some photos. Good practise I suppose.
Motoring on, we have a thunderstorm ahead of us, with plenty of thunder and lightning. Its moving slowly so hard to see if it will go past us or over us. So we decide to ‘pull over’, and anchor to wait it out. At least we can turn the electrics off before any lightning hits us. A good plan, but I try to get into an inner bay in the place I have chosen, and hit a bloody rock !! Poor old Steve ends up in the anchor locker with a bruise to prove it. Dave gets the first swim of the season to go and check the keel (my cunning packing means he is the only one with a wetsuit on board ). Minor damage to the keel, major damage to my pride and confidence. Dave talking to me now (3 days later ).
We sit for a warming cup of tea, and the storm eventually passes west and out of our way – ironically we would have been ok if we had just continued on.
We anchor for the night in Riso again. And is more protected because the wind is south and west overnight.
Chef Steve treats us to a lovely poached fish (of some sort- Swedish language skills still rudimentary).
Some lovely “PLOPP” chocolate for dessert.
June 10, 2011
Friday now, and we are hoping the new part arrives today in time.
Its not in the 9 am delivery (which was a long shot), so we wander into town to buy more stuff ! We find the hardware store can swap our 3kg gas bottle – for the sum of 600 Kroners, about $100 !!!!! WHAT???? They apparently send the bottles to the UK for refilling. So we stock up on the disposable butane bottles, which are only about $5 each aswell.
Lets talk gas, for those who may follow in our footsteps.
We bought the boat from a Danish boat yard. They put 2x 3kg gas bottles on board, and said “you can get these everywhere”. Which was true…but only as far as southern Sweden. So when our first bottle ran out after 6 weeks and we were in the Alland Islands, no chance of a swap or refill, as their connections are completely different. We did eventually find a marina in Stockholm that reserved their last one for us.
Knowing the difficulties of getting a compatible bottle in Sweden we have come prepared. We have an induction cooktop onboard now. Which we can use when on shore power or off the generator, and (like last year) we have a portable camping butane burner, which uses disposable canisters. These were a little hard to find early last year, so we didn’t use it much, only going ashore for a BBQ. But this year we are using it each night for meals.
The new part arrives at 1pm and the freezer works shortly after that ! Yipeeee
We will be able to move on tomorrow.
in the afternoon a yacht with engine troubles is towed into our marina by the emergency services boat.
We walk to the nearby restaurant (which was buzzing last night), only to find it closed on a Friday night ? “Oh well, that’s Sweden” we are told.
My cousin Bev and her partner Steve arrive just before midnight, from the UK. They are with us for a week, and will be really helpful on the Canal. Couple of red wines later as we catch up, its bed at 02:00 ! We can’t leave too early tomorrow the Systembolaget (grog shop) doesn’t open till 10am !
June 09, 2011
We are straight into the light breeze initially and motor for an hour. Then as the wind strengthen and our angle improves, we can sail the rest of the way. Don’t know why we practised working into the breeze yesterday, its into the wind all the way today. We are doing 8 knots in 12 -15 of breeze. Great sail.
Our first harbour entry for the season, and we do a great job. Under control, didn’t hit anything, no swearing. Fabulous.
Of course we arrive at lunchtime. In the afternoon they fit the new pump for the freezer, which doesn’t work !??! (insert expletives). The pump itself works, but the voltage regulator is cactus now. A new one is in the post, will it get here in time tomorrow ? We’d like to leave this area on Saturday, so having to come back Monday would be a pain. Its in the lap of the Swedish Postal Gods now. I ended up overfilling the little freezer in the top of our fridge, so when it built up some frost I couldn’t actually get anything out, frozen solid. We were on emergency sausage rations last night. So its defrost the fridge time. What fun we have on holiday!!!
At least we can get off the boat now (have been resisting getting the dinghy out, as it will only be in the way in the canal), so take a long walk in the nature reserve nearby. Will get plenty of walking tomorrow as the shops are quite a way from this marina. If the freezer gets fixed we can hopefully move around to the guest harbour this afternoon – they have a laundry too !!
June 08, 2011
We move on today northwards and back towards Oxelosund, so that tomorrow we can be back there by midday. We have a fabulous sail with a 8-10 knot breeze and sunny skies. We arrive so early that we have a play in the big bay nearby. All our sailing has been downwind this year, so we have a few runs up into the breeze to check things out.
Riso is another protected anchorage with a narrow entry. This time only 3.2 m deep.
The channel opens to the NE, and the forecast SE wind, is from the NE ! But its not very strong today, so we stay here anyway. Resisting the temptation to tie ourselves to a rock, we anchor as usual. We spend an entertaining hour later watching a British boat trying to find a good spot. First his stern anchor doesn’t set, then he tries 2 other spots and finally gets settled. Anchoring seems a whole lot simpler. Last night at Harstena a Swede spent more than an hour trying and changing his mind going from A to B, then half an hour later back to A (as the wind direction wasn’t too favourable for the mooring rocks there) and eventually he anchored out.
After 3 months last year and not getting to it, finally we Shorten The Ropes. Ali has asked “what the hell does that mean?” Many of the ropes come from the factory far longer than actually necessary. Presumably so they don’t risk the alternative. In one instance its in case we buy a great big genoa, which we won’t be doing. So we have metres and metres of rope that is never used, but has to be coiled up and kept out of the way, and not tangle up. So we cut it off with a hot knife after careful measurement and consideration, and fix the ends. We have some new fenders for the canal, so they get some rope from the left overs. It only took 30 minutes, wonder how we never actually go to it last year.
June 07, 2011
After a leisurely morning, its not far to move onto Harsten, just 5NM. So we motor over as its head into the wind.
This time there is only 1 boat here when we arrive. There were about 20 last year, though it was a month later in the season. We love the winding channel in and the narrows just as you enter. The water must be a bit clearer at the moment as I can see the bottom in places.
We give the decks a good wash, to get rid of the Oxelosund coal dust and they look much better.
The oven gets its first try out of the season, roast pork with garlic and white wine. Yummy.
June 05, 2011
We have a NE breeze and head south now. We want go have a night or two in Harstena, one of last year’s favourite anchorages. Sadly for Dee, we look at the website and the restaurant is not open yet……NOOOOOOOOO
We will go anyway.
But first to a new place, Kupa Klint.
We start out in 15 knot wind and decide to go the more direct open route, rather than through the islands and fairways. All good to start with. But the wind builds to 20-25knots and the sea gets up to 2m swells. Solero is loving it. It gets a bit rolly when we are side on to the swell. Stick with it !!!
Kupa Klint is lovely after 36 NM. A narrow (but 4m deep) channel opens out into a great anchorage, with plenty of room. We drop the anchor and enjoy another lovely afternoon of sunshine. Is this Sweden’s only week of summer sunshine ???
By late afternoon the wind has dropped an we have a glassy bay to view the sunset.
We are organising a new pump for the broken freezer, now that the long weekend is over. We stay a second night, as we know the reception for internet is crap at Harstena – in marked contrast to nearly everywhere else last year. But the hills in the anchorage are higher there.
We have heard from the freezer people that a new pump is on its way to the boat yard. We will head back on Thursday to have it fitted.