Small Boat Through Sweden (1963)
by Roger Pilkington
Yes, another Roger Pilkington book! I read his account of his journey to the Skagerrak whilst we were making an autumn pilgrimage to the Caldon Canal and then followed it up with the next edition as I flew off to Turkey for a week (work - not pleasure).
After the last book which was a bit history heavy this one was back on form, charting the travels of Commodore up the 300 mile trans Sweden Gota Kanal. This canal links three natural lakes and provided an inland waterway route between Stockholm and the North Sea which was free from the risk of Danish pirates.
This sounds like a fabulous waterway, including the amazing Trollhattan locks which lift the canal 100ft round a raging cateract. There were numerous attempts to surmount this formidable obstacle over many years and it must be a great place to explore.
The route includes a number of side canals, mainly used to move timber from the forests to pulp mills all of which were explored including the Dalslands Kanal to the north and the Kinda Kanal to the south.
Then it was out onto the Baltic and into Stockholm, gateway to a further network of canals which are just about level with the Orkney Islands - that's a long way from home for a Thames based craft. These northern waters are unlike the cosy inland waterways of England, linking wild lakes using fast flowing rivers strewn with boulders waiting to punch the bottom out of the long suffering Commodore.
The book covers two cruising seasons with the boat laid up for the October to May period when the Swedish waterways are locked solid with ice. True to form, Pilkington weaves in a huge amount of historic information gleaned from the places he visits, information which peels back the layers of Swedish history and gives the reader a really good idea of why the nation is as it it.
After a couple of summer seasons among the thousands of glacial lakes, Commodore turns south and reaches her Dutch base in three weeks flat - creeping through the low countries with their faithful V8 engine giving up the ghost and finally expiring as the moored up on their last day.
Another classic from the Pilkington stable. Now, where can I find the next 16 books?