Handala Gaza Freedom Flotilla

Scotland – Caledonian Canal Experience June 2023

Handala had a productive trip along the Caledonial Canal in Scotland’s highlands. Members of Highland Palestine came and saw Handala and three crew members spent an evening meeting with the group in Inverness.

Handala and swing bridge

Along the canal we met people in the locks and where we stopped for the night. A man shared how he had walked to Jerusalem in solidarity with Palestinians’ demands for human rights. Many gave us the thumbs up or applause when they saw the graffiti declaring “For the Children of Gaza” and when they saw the Palestinian flag flying high.

Grocery gift

Many people along the canal shared their support. Others felt inspired by our efforts and Handala itself – one merchant gave members of the crew a free meal from his restaurant. Other people we got to know brought groceries or a meal to our boat. Others wanted their picture taken with Handala.

The broken bridge at Gairlochy did unfortunately prevent Handala from reaching Glasgow for the scheduled events but it did allow us to meet others and talk to groups we would not have otherwise.

Picture with Handala

One group we got to meet was the border police. Interestingly, days after being in Scotland, and while located in the center of the country, we had a visit from four officers who asked us numerous questions and inspected the

Border police Laggan Locks

boat. They shared that they had to come by car because the broken bridge prevented them from coming via the canal (They must have really wanted to see us). They also shared how, despite it being mid afternoon, Handala had been the only boat they had visited that day. It was a rather odd visit with a local telling us that in all the years he had been in Loggan Locks he had never seen the border police there.

We are grateful to many who we met along the canal. As we approached Fort William we met David Sedgwick, a surgeon who has trained doctors in Gaza, the West Bank and Rwanda. We greatly appreciated his company, logistical assistance, and generosity with his time and cuisine.

Thanks also to Fiona Scott and the Lochaber Times for covering Handala’s travels along the canal. Here are a couple articles from the Lochaber Times including this one on June 27, 2023: https://www.obantimes.co.uk/2023/06/27/mechanical-failure-causes-back-up-on-caledonian-canal/ and a later article entitled: “Crew float important message during Lochaber stop.”

Picture from Handala at the bottom of Neptune’s Staircase near Fort William, Scotland.

Neptune staircase
View from Handala after descending Neptune’s Staircase, the longest staircase lock in Britain consisting of eight sequential locks with a difference of 20 meter elevation.