Day 107. 16th of June. Povenets to just beyond lock 9. 20.5 km paddling, 7. 7 km/hr average speed. 106 days behind us, and from tomorrow 106 days to go! The half way mark!
After a bit of weighing back and forth last night we decided to go by car from the 13 km to lock 7, and then paddle about 20 km to lock 8 and meet up with Silvertärnan there.
We had sent a lot of our stuff with Chris and his crew and loaded the basically empty kayaks onto Igor’s trailer last evening.
A bit risky to part with our stuff in case some confusion arose, but we kept enough food to last a few days and took the sleeping bags.
Igor, the watchman at the camp, showed up as agreed and took us to lock 7. We packed the boats while beating around after the horse flies. Probably a funny dance to watch.
Some Russian fishermen were at the same place and loading up for a weekend expedition, or maybe a full year by the amount they packed.
Anyway we wished each other luck and we paddled off.
We had been warned by Konstantin that good camp sites might be difficult to find, since the landscape was flooded by the construction of the canal.
However, we did see a number of small sandy beaches.
Good to know, but we had been offered berths on Silvertärnan, so we were not going to camp anyway.
It took us about three hours to get to lock 8. Now we just had to wait for the good ship Silvertärnan.
Waiting is not our favorite past time, so we wanted to call Silvertärnan and if they were far away we would carry the boats and go to lock 9.
One problem. No cell phone coverage. Fortunately some forest workers came past were we were sitting, and they claimed better coverage could be found on the other side of the locks.
Crossing the locks would supposedly mean trespassing into military and therefore prohibited area, but the workers did not worry and there were no fences like on the other locks. Erling decided to give it a go.
The coverage was supposedly found by sitting in on a bench beside a container house and keeping the phone close to a window.
Erling did as adviced, but failed to find any coverage. On the other hand the guards found him. It was an amicable conversation with few common words, but it was clear: Not only had Erling been trespassing, but we had parked kayaks on forbidden territory too.
So no hurry and no pointing with the Kalasjnikovs, but we had to paddle off.
So we just had to get in the boats and wait. In all we waited about five hours before Silvertärnan finally appeared. Long story involving locks and meeting boats.
Finally we got to pass through a lock. It had been newly renovated with new lock doors etc.
We passed through the lock on board Silvertärnan, with the empty kayaks tied to the boat.
It would have been absolutely no problem to pass the lock in a kayak. But it is forbidden, so we are very grateful for the opportunity to travel with Silvertärnan.
We towed the kayaks for the 8 km to lock 9, and passed through that one as well before captain Christoph called it a day and let the anchor go.
Then the captain turned into a chef, and soon dinner was ready. A really tasty stew.
Then we toasted to mark our halfway milestone.
And then talked through the white night till well after midnight.
A really good start to the Belomor Canal part of our trip.