maanantai 1. heinäkuuta 2013

June 29th 2013

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!

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