Through the Canal of the Dead On the 27th, we entered the first lock of the Belomorsko-Baltijski Canal, also known as the Stalin Canal. The Canal is 227 kilometres long and has a total of 19 locks. The Stalin Canal was completed in a mere twenty months during the years 1931-1933.
It was built solely by slave labour, mainly Gulag political prisoners, and it is estimated that during the building process 200,000 – 250,000 prisoners died which means approximately one dead prisoner per canal metre. Because of the tight schedule, there was not always time to bury the dead and many of the prisoners who died on the building site were thrown into cement mixers and are buried in the canal walls. Every lock had a guard armed with a Kalashnikov AK47. But what were they actually guarding, the souls of the dead?
For this particular leg, the fleet was divided into two groups for the boats to better fit in the lock. In both groups, there are three bigger boats, one of which is s/y Sarema, which attach themselves to the lock wall and three smaller boats which come alongside them. So far, the system has worked flawlessly. During the past two days, we have gone through eighteen locks and this afternoon, the fleet was once again united. Tomorrow, after one more lock, we'll be on the White Sea!