Gota Canal Cruising: Day Three, It’s All Downhill From Here

Gota Canal
Near midnight on the world's oldest ship, Juno, as we cross Sweden on the Gota Canal. © Ralph Grizzle

GOTA CANAL, SWEDEN — The photograph above was taken at close to midnight last night. Sweden’s long summer days imbue our cruise with an aesthetic element that is hard to convey in words.

The sunlight, and the canvas on which it displays its rich colors, makes it hard to go to sleep at night. Sure, our ship has blinds that darken the room, but who wants to miss the spectacle of nature happening through the threshold of our stateroom door?

Today is another idyllic day on the Gota Canal, gorgeous, with brilliant blue skies, cotton-ball clouds and fields of wildflowers on either side of the ship as Juno makes her way along the canal through forests and past charming Swedish villages.

We had quite a show last night. Juno’s belly ran aground while transiting a bend of the canal as we were having dinner. The captain explained our predicament and said that we needed more water to lift the ship, so he phoned someone, a lock-keeper presumably, to release water from the locks upstream. His phone call worked, and we were soon under way.

At the next lock, however, the captain thought it prudent to have a diver check the propeller, which had been eating mud as Juno struggled to loosen herself from the canal bottom. One of the crew members slipped on a wet suit and dove in to remove a few items that had wrapped around the propellor, nothing significant, but enough to keep us entertained for 15 minutes or so. We all applauded when the young man once again stood ashore and toweled himself dry.

This morning, we had an early breakfast and joined an included guided tour of Karlsborg Fortress, built nearly 200 years ago but made obsolete for defense shortly after becoming operational. The tour was well-done, with the use of multimedia and special effects, and knowledgeable English-speaking guides.

Karlsborg Fortress
Our stop today included a guided tour of Karlsborg Fortress. © Ralph Grizzle
Karlsborg Fortress
The tour was well-done, making us feel as if we were living in the period, with cannons booming, and even the floor shaking at some points. © Ralph Grizzle

After sailing from Karlsborg, Ingemar, our cruise director, told us to be on deck for something we would not want to miss at the next lock. There, at Forsvik, a Swedish spiritual group greeted our ship with flowers and song. It was a sweet gesture, and the greeting is extended each time a ship passes, I suppose.

Forsvik lock
At Forsvik, we were greeted with song and flowers. © Ralph Grizzle

We were at the lock for a good 10 minutes, the captain intent on safely maneuvering Juno through, while we enjoyed the show  and warm hospitality from our serenaders ashore.

Forsvik lock
While we enjoy songs, our captain focuses on Juno, which is transiting the tight squeeze at the lock at Forsvik. © Ralph Grizzle
Anders Kindbom
Spreading the gospel and greetings to visitors through song and flowers, Anders Kindbom greets Juno and its passengers on a gorgeous June day. © Ralph Grizzle
Flowers to the crew
Handing over flowers and cards with a religious message to passengers and crew on Juno. © Ralph Grizzle
Klara on Juno accepts flowers
Our hostess Klara accepts flowers for our ship. © Ralph Grizzle
Anders Kindbom & Company, Kindbomgruppen
Anders Kindbom & Company, Kindbomgruppen, wave good-bye as the lock gates open and Juno begins her transit to the highest point on the Gota Canal. © Ralph Grizzle
Running the spring line
In the old days, oxen used a path alongside the Gota Canal to help navigate ships through narrow passages. Today, only a spring line is needed to turn the tight corners. © Ralph Grizzle
Gota Canal
Enjoying a beautiful June -- Juno -- day. © Ralph Grizzle
Gota Kanal
In our wake, the narrow passages of the Gota Canal. © Ralph Grizzle
Gota Canal Guides
Should knowledge be lacking, there is always literature. © Ralph Grizzle
At Lanthöjden an obelisk, pictured on the left bank, marks the high point of the Gota Canal, 91.7 meters. © Ralph Grizzle
Gota Canal
The high point behind us, we are making our way to Goteborg and the sea, but there is a lot more in store before we disembark nearly 24 hours from now. © Ralph Grizzle


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