Date: Wednesday 20th August to Tuesday 26th August
Distance : 117 miles
Weather : Rather windy, with two days of rain.
got rid of - sorry, waved goodbye, to Richard in Mariestad, we set off across Lake Vänern to pick up the next crew members.
Wednesday was blowy, from the West, which, as a headwind, we could do without. A forecast 24 knots turned out on occasions
to be 35, and we had a rather hard, wet and boisterous beat across the lake to Läckö. We had reservations
because there was conflicting information about the depth in the harbour. We eventually arrived immediately behind a German
boat (the only other boat around) who obligingly went aground in 1.6 meters of water. This forewarned us (it was blowing
33 knots at the time) so we tied up on the pier outside. Unfortunately, the pier was so high, Pat couldn't get off the boat
with her leg in plaster.
The next day, still blowing, we set off early through the Ekens skärgård towards Dallsbergå. This little
archipelago would be well worth a stop in quieter times, as it has a number of interesting anchorages and little narrow routes.
Unfortunately, it was blowy and rainy, and we had to press on, so we hurried through.
As we got towards Dallsbergä, the sea dropped somewhat and we managed to make Vännersborg where we were
due to meet Eileen & Maurice. Bit embarrassing really, as we'd told them we would be late and made them stay in a hotel
for the night.....
Vännersborg was fun and games. The first hurdle was yet another, lower, bridge. Having been faced with
an 18 meter one on the way to Mariestad, Vännersborg presented us with a 17m one - which is our absolute height limit.
I only found out later that the actual height under the bridge depends on Lake Vänern's water level, and varies between 15.5
and 17 meters - but I'd been through it by that time...
The marina then had a few more tricks up its sleeve. First, it pissed down with rain. Then, expecting booms
to moor to, we found all the windward berths needed a stern anchor (actually there is a rope tied to the quay) so we
lay alongside the outer pontoon, but only after a complete fiasco where we tied all the ropes on in the wrong order and nearly
came a cropper.
following day, the crew arrived, but for the next day and a half it just blew and rained, so we all went down on the
bus to see the falls open in Tollhattan. A couple of times a week the authorities open the sluice gates for a few minutes
to show what the waterfall looked like before they tamed it for electricity. Impressive.
Back at Vännersborg, the wind had dropped, so we upped sticks, and motored down to Trollhattan for the night,
passing the first of the Trollhattan locks on the way. These locks are seriously large - the outer ones drop you 6 meters,
and the center ones 9 meters. In the Trollhattan locks, you don't leave you ropes tied to the top as in a normal lock,
but hook them on to bollards set in the wall. As the water drops, you change the rope for the next bollard down as it appears
out of the water. This, obviously, is easy, so to make it more difficult they first of all ensure that not all the bollards
are a boat's length apart, then for each lock they randomly switch which side the bollards are on. Also, the locks are constructed
such that the west side walls are not walls at all, but bare rock.
Anyway we survived that and tied up at Spikon marina, in Trollhattan itself. Spikon is managed by an attached
resturant and Maurice discovered in the morning that the showers required tokens. The resturant, of course, was shut, so
we couldn't buy any tokens, but we found an old one for him that had been lying round the boat. The machine accepted
the token, but having just covered himself in soap, the shower gave out - not a happy bunny...
four locks at Trollhattan itself turned out to be a breeze, as did the one some miles later at Lilla Edet. The canal itself
is pretty, if rather dull - 50 miles of wooded fields palls after a while, but the bird life is outstanding.
final challenge came in Gothenborg with yet another low - but not low enough - bridge. (If the bridge were too low,
the bridge would lift for us). This bridge was 18.5 meters (OK), but just as we approached it we noticed an electronic sign
which said -1.6. Minus 1.6 what? Water level, or height? Suffice to say we got through and made a pretty professional entrance
to Lilla Bommen, the central Gothenburg marina. (Lilla Bomen has the rope mooring system which can be tricky in a cross wind.
While we were there, one motor boat got the rope caught round his propellor)
Monday was a big day. Pat's plaster cast was coming off, so we went to the hospital to have it removed. Astonshingly, we
encoutnered the first bit of bloody mindedness of the whole trip. The orthopedic department flatly refused to get involved
because they couldn't work out how it would be paid, and told us to go home (i.e. England) to get it taken off. Fortunately,
the A&E department took a more coperative view and 45 minutes later, Pat was staring at the hairs on her leg. (Incidentally,
Pat took the view that if the hospital were not going to take it off, she would do so herself. It eventually took the nurse
in the hospital over 10 minutes to take it off, and he had all the special gear! A serious piece of engineering!)
Monday night, by way of a celebration, Alfred and Hillke, who we met earlier in the summer on the east coast, and who happened
to be in Gothenburg too, took us out for an an excellent dinner.