Gota Canal Day 11: Norrgvarn


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The section of the Gota Canal that runs through Lake Viken is among the most scenic, through several narrow one-way channels, and open areas dotted with islets. It also the highest point along the canal, at 301.2 ft (91.8 m) above sea level.

On our 11th day along the Gota Canal, we passed through eleven locks and the same number of bridges between Forsvick and Norrgvarn. We also passed the pedestrian cable ferry Lina, the smallest regular ferry in Sweden. We started off in the Forsvik lock, the highest in the canal, where we rose up 11.5 ft (3.5 m) to reach Lake Viken at 301.2 ft (91.8 m) above sea level. Then we started descending, dropping 75.1 ft (22.9m) to 226.0 ft (68.9m) above sea level.

By this time, in mid-August, the crowds have really dropped off and we’ve been enjoying minimal waits at the locks and little boat traffic. The lock attendant at Forsvik Lock said only 12 boats had gone through the day before, whereas in July the maximum in one day was 70. The canal is also slowly de-staffing, with only one person running the Forsvik Lock and another two bridges, when two would be on-site for the height of the season.

Below are trip highlights from August 13th, 2019 along the Gota Canal in Sweden. Click any image for a larger view, or click the position to view the location on a map. And a live map of our current route and most recent log entries always is available at mvdirona.com/maps.

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Pond
The view from Dirona to the tranquil pond next to our berth in Forsvik.
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Approaching Forsvik Lock
Entering the curved channel towards the Forsvik Lock.
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Big Step
The Forsvik Lock is the highest in the Gota Canal, with a 11.5-ft (3.5 m) rise. Normally Jennifer is able to step from the boat deck to the lock side as we enter, but this one was well above the boat deck level. Fortunately she was able to hoist herself up by standing on the rail and grabbing onto a ring.
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Forsvik Lock
In the Forsvik Lock ready to rise. This lock, completed in 1813, is the oldest of the 58 locks in the Gota Canal. All of the canal locks we’ve passed through so far have been smooth on both sides, but this one is rough rock on the south face as it was partly blasted through the rock to build.
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Forsvik Bridges
The Forsvik Bridge in the foreground is the oldest bascule bridge on the canal, completed in 1813. It was replaced by a bridge behind it and now stands permanently open.
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Bergkanalen
The section of the Gota Canal that runs through Lake Viken is among the most scenic, through several narrow channels and open areas dotted with islets. This is the Bergkanalen, a narrow channel cut through the Spetsnaset peninsula.
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Lake Viken
Lake Viken is 301 ft (91.8m) above sea level and is the highest point in the Gota Canal. Here we are passing alongside a 1,968ft (600m) channel built in Lake Viken to allow sailboats to be towed through when conditions were excessively windy.
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Brosundet Bridge
The Brosundet Bridge, partway into Lake Viken, opening for us to pass through.
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Tatorp Lock and Bridge
The Tatorp Lock gates opening and the Tatorp Bridge lifting for the boats inside the lock to exit.
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Closing Gate
The Tatorp Lock is one of only two manual locks in the Gota Canal. The lock is a regulating lock for the water level in Lake Viken and rises only 0.2m. Here Jennifer is helping close the gates, partly for fun and partly for efficiency.
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Closing Sluice
The lock keeper manually closing the sluice on the Tatorp Lock.
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Single-Boat Channel
Blasting a channel through the rock west of Tatorp Lock was so expensive that the width was restricted with no room to pass. Further complicating navigation, the channel used to make a hairpin turn here, likely to reduce the blasting required, and ships needed to use a semaphore to safely pass through. The hairpin later was straightened in 1933.
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Vassbacken Bridge
A cyclist stopping to watch us pass through the Vassbacken Bridge.
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Stang Bridge
Passing through the Stang Bridge, one of five similar rolling bridges ordered for the Gota Canal in the 1830s.
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Jonsboda Bridge
Passing through the Jonsboda Bridge. Preserved in the wall beyond are old regulating gates, designed to close automatically if water began to leak from the canal to prevent it from emptying.
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Rotkilen Bridge
The well-kept Rotkilen Bridge keeper’s home, built in 1901.
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Rope
This rope strung across the channel near Toreboda got our attention. We got surprisingly close before workers began to lower the rope. They probably hadn’t seen us coming, and we were trying to figure out how to get past this point.
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Lina
The rope strung across the channel was for the pedestrian cable ferry Lina, the smallest regular ferry in Sweden. The manually-operated ferry is pulled across by the rope and in the winter, when the canal is frozen, is replaced by a bridge.
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Line Back in Place
The rope going back in place behind us.
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Toreboda Train Station
The Toreboda Train Station, completed in 1859, was strategically placed with one side facing the canal and the other facing the railway tracks as a symbolic peace pact between the two forms of transport with often conflicting interests.
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Toreboda Railway Bridge
Looking down the railway tracks as we pass through the Toreboda Railway Bridge.
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Toreboda Road Bridge
A line of cars quickly built up at the Toreboda Road Bridge when it opened for us to pass.
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Gastorp Bridge
The rolling bridge at Gastorp was built in 1838 or earlier at Motala Verkstad, and is one of the oldest on the canal.
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Levsang Bridge
The cast-iron Levsang Bridge, built in the 1830s, opening for us and opposing traffic to pass through. The canal staff who manage the bridges also control who passes through first, by showing a green light for the direction traffic is allowed to flow.

In the same area, a major leak in the canal occured in 1934 when a layer of stones and gravel beneath the canal had allowed water to escape and 3.7 miles (6km) of the canal drained.

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Hajstorp Upper Locks
Exiting the Hajstrop double lock after passing through the Hajstorp bridge and then lowering 16.4ft (5.0m) in the two locks. We’re now heading back down towards sea level.
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Hajstorp Lower Locks
The gates open in the Hajstorp Lower Lock, another double lock that will lower us 16.7ft (5.1m).
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Riksberg Locks
At the top of the Riksberg, a triple lock that will bring us down 24.6ft (7.5m) and then we’ll pass under the Riksberg Bridge.
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Godhagen Locks
Nearing our last two locks of the day, the Godhagen Locks, where we’ll lower 16.7ft (5.1m).
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Yacht Controller
When moving in and out of the locks, James uses a Yacht Controller system to remotely control the thrusters and keep us in position. But the remote has stopped operating several times when we were in the locks. We switched to a spare remote, and that seemed to fix the problem, but then it re-occurred. We had a theory that it might be an overheat issue, as it only happens during the locking process, and never when we are entering the lock or underway. Turning the system off when not in use seemed to help, but not always.
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Norrgvarn Gasthamn
Approaching the Norrgvarn Gasthamn in front of the Norrqvarn Hotel. Normally we’d pick the more secluded location on the other side of the canal, but decided it would be fun to be right “downtown”.
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Norrqvarn Hotel
Relaxing on the patio at the Norrqvarn Hotel after a big day underway. Today we’d passed through eleven locks and the same number of bridges. In the Forsvik lock we rose up 11.5 ft (3.5 m) to reach the highest point on the Gota Canal in Lake Viken at 301.2 ft (91.8 m) above sea level. Then we started descending, dropping 75.1 ft (22.9m) to 226.0 ft (68.9m) above sea level.
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Model Canal
The Norrqvarn Hotel owners have built an impressive model of a portion of the Gota Canal on their property.
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Dam
The model canal at Norrqvarn is popular with kids of all ages. Here James is damming the canal using portable wood gates.
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Norrqvarn Lock
Looking west from the Norrqvarn Lock that we’ll pass through tomorrow morning.
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Norrqvarn Gasthamn
Dirona moored at the Norrqvarn Gasthamn in front of the Norrqvarn Hotel, looking east from the Norrqvarn Lock area.
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Dinner
An enjoyable meal on the terrace at the Norrqvarn Hotel.
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Evening
Everyone is out in the cockpit enjoying the tranquil evening along the Gota Canal at Norrqvarn.
Show locations on map Click the travel log icon on the left to see these locations on a map, with the complete log of our cruise.

On the map page, clicking on a camera or text icon will display a picture and/or log entry for that location, and clicking on the smaller icons along the route will display latitude, longitude and other navigation data for that location. And a live map of our current route and most recent log entries always is available at mvdirona.com/maps.

 
 


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4 comments on “Gota Canal Day 11: Norrgvarn
  1. John S. says:

    Wow, tight quarters! Looks like Dirona had to squeak through some very narrow sections of the canal. The lock with rough stone walls could be an expensive proposition. Even with plenty of fenders out it must have required precision steering.

    The slowdown of traffic by the end of August is a reminder of how short summers are in most parts of Scandinavia.

    Very enjoyable posts and pix.

    • It was tight in places and, when it gets tight, I found that the bank effect was super strong. If you get too close to either side, the stern just gets pulled towards the bank and the bow gets pushed off. I’ve read about this effect so it’s not a surprise and, to a lesser extent, we have experienced it before in small canals like the Crinan Canal (https://mvdirona.com/2017/09/the-crinan-canal/) but we’ve never seen it so strong. It’s easy to drive through but you need to be attentive and catch it before the boat is pulled diagonal to the canal. I think what’s going on and the reason the bank effect is much more noticable in the Gota is the speed limit in the Crinan is 4 kts whereas in the Gota it’s 5 kts. That additional 25% of speed appears to make a massive difference in the strength of the bank effect. We found that in the narrowest sections, much attention was required since the bank could grab the stern quickly and without much warning.

      The rough side locks would be challenging but there is always one smooth side so, if you have the fenders and the lines on the correct side (and it’s published which side is smooth for each lock), then it’s a normal smooth rock wall mooring and not a problem.

      Thanks for the feedback on the blog John.

  2. Eric Patterson says:

    I was thinking are the canals typically one way? It appears that there are often long areas where Dirona could not be passed… Assuming they may be 2 way how is this handled?

    • You are right on both counts Eric. The canals are 2-way and there are places where you can’t pass another boat with similar beam. The commercial boats and many of the recreational boats are transmitting AIS so you can see most of the larger ones coming and there are usually places not far away where boats can pass. I’m sure there are times when things don’t play out well and some backing might rarely be required but we didn’t see it.

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