Day 31 – Broken – on a rock in a hard place

On a rock in a hard place.

Draget Kanal

Wednesday 14th August started and ended with the most nerve wracking experiences of the trip; firstly, piloting through the Draget Kanal.  The Kanal is only 150m long, on the chart only 1.5m deep, and reputedly 8m wide.  We’re about 1.85m deep (before a ton of cruising crap, 600l of water, oh and we’re in fresh water so we float deeper…) and 4m wide.  A “bloke in the marina”* said it should be OK, and there’s a sign at the end that says it’s 2.0m deep so egged on by “the following boat”** we thought we’d give it a go.  Literally no turning back.

Looking at the entrance to the Draget Kanal

Although the video looks serene it wasn’t behind the wheel.  With overgrown trees threatening the mast and depth sounder reading close to zero under the keel the granite on either side rapidly closed in.  We made it through!!  Unfortunately at first “the following boat” didn’t, and had to have a run up at a few points before popping out at our end.  Their keel is deeper than ours, and mast higher, but they made it too, in places literally ploughing their own furrow.

After a few more wiggles through narrow bits to which we were now desensitised we hit open sea and endured an hour or so of unpleasant pounding and short chop.  Head down and pushing through we arrived at the dubiously named island of Broken. 

Breaking in Broken

Ringed by shallow bits and rocks there looked to be a buoyed channel into the yacht club, but not knowing how deep it was Andrew opted to find our own channel using the chart….a big mistake that led to the next nerve wracking experience.  While slowly picking through the supposed not-shallow bit Crystelle Venture hit a rock.  With a gut-wrenching bang and a shuddering crash we stopped and rapidly reversed off.  Unfortunately “the following boat” wasn’t so lucky.  With a 15cm deeper draft they hit the one we glided over and became firmly wedged, unable even with the aid of engine and bowthruster to move.

A rope between her teeth

Not wanting to get two boats stuck the plucky captain swam across to Crystelle Venture with a rope between her teeth and then back to the stricken vessel.  Tethered to the masthead we powered ahead, heeling the boat with the aim of reducing draft.  Even with their side decks awash we struggled, and every time we reduced power she settled back with a sickening grinding crash.  After the third or fourth go she came free, graunching sideways into deeper water.  “She swims!!!” we cried like Jack Aubrey…or something like that.

Firmly resolved to go the long way round we entered via deeper water into the harbour.  Stern anchors and mooring bows-to was the order of the day, a new-to-us technique that seems pretty simple, but we’ve yet to try leaving and lifting the anchor on the way out.  We’ll report back on that one.  Oh, and another “bloke in the marina” thought there was at least 3.0m in the approach channel.  Guess which way we’ll be leaving.

Warmth and sanctuary

Thankfully the island of Broken, although aptly named for our boats, actually was a place of warmth and sanctuary – an honesty box for berth payment of 190 Krona, earth and incinerator toilets, and a free sauna with hot showers.  Both crews walked across the island to share a communal sauna with windows out over the sea, us Brits in our swimming costumes and the 2 germans in their birth skins.  We all, including the germans, chickened out of actually swimming in the sea post sauna, but a few brave souls did in fact go into the water up to their thighs. 

Suzanne baked another lemon drizzle cake, as comfort food and hot tea seemed the right answer to a day of such highs and lows, with both crews huddled round the table on Crystelle Venture.

Daily stats

In 5 hours we made 32 nautical miles, using 5 gallons of fuel, motoring all the way, so averaging just over 6 knots.  

You can listen to our 2 in a boat podcast about the day’s events in episode 31 Broken in Broken.

*this was backed up by the “girl behind the counter”, so we believed him.

**”the following boat” has often been the lead boat in our two vessel off-piste adventures.  They generally don’t run aground, but coincidentally have done twice with Crystelle Venture in the lead…