Heading For The Divorce Ditch

Wow, so much has happened since the last post. Dr F and and I put Hal into winter storage in at the end of August last year in Henån, a little town on the island of Orust, and island reknowned for its boat building heritage. Since then we have made two visits to Hal, had a fantastic winter trip to Tromso and Kirkenes where Dr F finally saw the northern lights. A couple of ski trips, a ski marathon, the Marathon des Sables and Africa Burn.


However this is about Hal, so…..

The Göta Canal transverses Sweden from Gothenburg in the west to south of Stockholm in East and has 64 locks over its 209 mile length. Manoeuvring a yacht in the confines of these locks filled with turbulent water, in close proximity to other boats and rough rocky walls can be a stressful situation, hence its nickname of The Divorce Ditch.

The plan for the summer of 2017 was to cruise the Stockholm Archipelago in the Baltic. Hal had wintered on Henan on the west coast of Stockholm, therefore to reach our intended cruising ground we either had to transit the 120 miles of the Göta Canal or sail the 450 miles around the southern tip of Sweden. We’d heard wonderful so stories about the canal, so we decided to take on the challenge! Dr D and Capt’n Haddock arrived in Henan at the end of May with the plan of meeting ‘the girls’ halfway through the canal a week later.

The ‘canal’ is actually two separate canals, the Trollhätte (very industrial) and Göta (much more scenic) which are separated by Lake Vänern so really the girls were joining us for the Göta and its 58 locks. Despite an extraordinary amount of chasing by CH and a preparatory visit a few weeks earlier, there were still many jobs unfinished by the yard when we arrived late on the Thursday evening. Hal was like a queen bee on Friday, surrounded by her workers.

By noon on Saturday the important jobs were complete and we set off south from Henan in glorious sunshine and a warm easterly.

As forecast, a band of rain arrived mid afternoon after which we had strong colder westerlies but with clear skies again.

Here’s a quick video of the sailing after immediately after the rain before the skies cleared.

We anchored in a spot we had used last year, but this time lied to anchor rather than bows to against the rocks. Funny that the Scandinavian mooring technique isn’t as attractive when it’s windy and freezing cold. The following day started off cold,

but it soon warmed up which resulted in some gorgeous sailing on the approach to Gothenburg.

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