Passage Report No. 63
Monnickendam to Standing Mast Route - Holland
July -August, 2011
A sea of sails converges on the lock. Young assistants make order of chaos. Yachts
pack in, and pour out into Amsterdam harbour.
Tanya shakes - the propeller is weed bound. "Don't worry, it happens every year in
the Markenmeer, go back and forth and it will come off." Skipper is relieved. Inland
"seas" are 2-4 meters. Weed grows to the surface in places.
Sahula is bound for the Ringvaart (standing mast, "ring" route) via Haarlem and
Leiden. The " Standing Mast Route" extends the length of Holland.
Amsterdam's "box" buildings and commercial harbour pass astern, Sahula turns into
the Zijkanaal, a bridge opens on request but a major highway delays the next till a set
opening time next morning.
Sahula waits at a marina wharf. A green and red light signals "bridge opening," road
Gates lower, bridge rises, red light turns green, yachts file quickly through. Another
Fleet from the opposite direction passes then bridge lowers, bells ringing and a road
Sahula is to repeat the opening bridge and lock process "a hundred times." There are
seven bridges in Haarlem town. Most are free. Occasionally, a fee (usually three euros)
is collected by (a most Dutch act)the lock master, dangling a clog from a fishing rod.
Harbour master ashore, rides past, "On starboard, behind flat bottom boat alongside
brick, town wall." Sahula glides in - mast in a tree soon disengaged. Sahula
is berthed in the heart of historic, Haarlem. Facilities (shower, loo) are on the quay
A Flemish, 16th century city, that wears well its historic, burgeoning past,. Its
prosperous burghers recorded by the artist Hals. A large cathedral dominates the
central square; streets cross canals. It is a lively, attractive, contemporary city.
A fleet gathers before the bridge. It is a turning bridge followed by a lifting bridge.
Bridge synchronisation is dependent on the lock master cycling to the next or
having control from one bridge, of a number of bridges. It is "Russian roulette"
whether arrival is in time.
Tanya is ill. Engine panel gauges fail. Engine stopped, Sahula glides to a wharf.
Skipper works the electrical plugs - it starts. Much relief.
Leiden, city of canals is explored in "Zod" (zodiac 2m dinghy). Passing errant youth
ensures a wet, cursing, crew.
Sahula anchors on the Kagerplassen (inland lake). Sundowner's views include
windmills and rustic, rural, polder. Ben and Skipper swim in cold, brown water.
Sahula opts to return to Amsterdam (original plan was to exit Holland at the southern
port of Vlissingen). The "ringvaart" returns to Amsterdam via the "convoy" route.
Major highway and rail bridges open, consecutively, late at night.
Sahula sails (with a fleet) on the Westeinderplassen (inland lake). Kempers marina provides a base to visit the Aalsmeer flower market (Holland's largest of five). Every morning, millions of flowers are auctioned, packaged and dispatched to vendors in towns across the world. The market is a seething mass of workers ensuring acres of seemingly infinite varieties, are cleared for the market.
"I'd let you through but bridge is out of order." Sahula must reverse the Ringvaart through Haarlem to Amsterdam.
The Twellegea Nauticadam marina welcomes Sahula's return. Ben and Di leave for Australia. Skippers decides to attempt to obtain a further three months visa extension.
Next Report: Schengen visa - an Australian sailor's nemesis.
25 August 2011, Ostende
Passage Report: No. 62
Frankfurt on Main, Rhine and Holland
"You're at Offenbach. Offenbach, how did you get there? To Frankfurtians, Offenbach is low brow.
Price resolves everything. (marina: 12 Euro a night - 60 Euro in central Frankfurt), Sahula is there a month (180 Euro) awaiting the arrival of Ben (Australian friend) crew to Holland. The marina is "home" to broken dreams - large, unfinished, yachts unlikely to see the sea.
Flying the "boxing kangaroo," ensures Skipper meets the locals. Dieter and Anke (voluntary crew of heritage boat, "Gaby" and sailors), Stefan and his parents, Christel and Juergen, invite Skipper to their homes, dinner and use of the washing machine.
Tours of the city and countryside, display the festivals, food, history, and culture - recent and ancient.
Medieval, metal armour, head to toe and hoof, encapsulates an ancient "human tank" mounted in Schloss Braunfel's armour room - challenges the imagination - and the horse. Home to descendants, its towers rise, Disney like above the surrounding village and forest.
The madness of war devastated Frankfurt. City of Germany's highest "Manhattans" it mixes the medieval and new. City of museums (previously riverside mansions) and art galleries.
"Bavarians always say no (in Passau immigration refused a visa extension), I will help with a visa, I know who knows who" - in immigration.
Skipper's visa was assumed to expire on the 30th July - 90 days after entering Hungary - a Schengen Agreement signatory.
"There is good news and bad - your visa expires next Tuesday but an extension is possible" Sahula leaves on Sunday! Skipper receives 6 weeks. It is Hesse not Bavaria.
It seems the visa is three months from entry into the EU not into an Agreement signatory, even though a non signatory cannot grant a Schengen visa.
"In time, our population will drop from 80 to 60 million; couples are too busy to have children - our culture will die out." Offenbach citizens (migrant workers families -Turk, Middle East, and African) reflect Europes ethnic changing,
Ben arrives. Frankfurt friends farewell Sahula. Four locks to the Rhine.
At Mainz wharf, Skipper and Ben farewell Christel and Juergen ("crew" for the day) with a rousing rendition of Waltzing Matilda (compensation for forgoing a classical music concert) - tourists are wide eyed.
Rhine speeds by carrying busy traffic. This is a different river. Barges march in convoy, passing three abreast plus a small yacht.
Overtaking, towering bows, chomp by, metres from Sahula's stern. It is not for the feint hearted.
"If Lorelly (a blond maiden) sings, disaster is nigh." Silence prevailed in the notorious, fast and narrow, Lorelly gorge. Reputed as the Rhine's most picturesque; Castles occupy every hill. Tax collecting occupiers demanded the coffers of ancient, passing traffic to lift cross river chains.
Sahula raced with the swift current, making Bonn (160km) in a day; in time to visit the IUCN Environmental Law Centre and friends.
On the third day, passing Cologne, Düsseldorf, Duisburg, Sahula crossed into Holland and quieter canals.
Veche Canal is reputedly one of the Holland's finest. Sahula's first bridge encounter passes, hesitantly, slowly, under, with centimetres to spare. Depth sounder drops to and remains at 1.7m and remains - Skipper's learning curve begins. Passed massed colourful blooms, boats and traditional houses and mansions, windmills, lifting bridges, ducks and geese interspersed with green polder fields in a Dutch agrarian vista.
It is relying on fate (and a phone) to not book marina berths. Summer ensures the canals are busy with private boats. There was no berth in the marina. "You can find one in town." Sahula passed through two bridges to berth with locals, against the historic Weesp centre, town wall.
Bridges operate on arrival or phone and outside tea and lunch breaks and time to bike between.
Canal "masters" wave cautious Sahula on, "Faster, faster" - a convoy, awaits on the opposite side, an ambulance is in the waiting traffic, he is required at the other bridge. Green/ Red prepare to go - locals pass through the lock gates or rising bridge before the final green.
A toll (1-3 Euros) is placed in a wooden clog lowered from a fishing rod.
Canals raise challenges: turning, 360 degrees, a 12m yacht, in a narrow canal lined by boats - some now adorned with Sahula's red ; confronted by a motor boat, nonchantly, cutting the corner, with the option to ground alongside, hope for a course change or full astern with another close astern or all three at once (proclaiming "steel" is irrelevant - all boats are steel); depth sounder alarm shrilly sounding - 2m dropping to 1.6m causing an underwater agrarian plough, crew to stumble forward or softly steadying to 1.7 (Sahula is 1.6), repeated again and again.
"This is Amsterdam" on a fine, summer day- massed crowds, backpackers, tourists.
Sahula heads to Monnickendam (historic fishing village on Markermeer inland sea) marina (110 Euro/week), enters the canal ("you will be ok") - 1.3 m per the Guide book.
Returning to Amsterdam, Twellegea Nauticadam Marina, (in historic Nieuwendam village harbour) provides a quiet berth (120 Euro/ week and mast up facilities (100 Euro).
Skipper replaces the mast light and wind indicator (Dekker chandlery) - victims of the first lock in the Constanta canal, Romania.
"Wednesday morning, raise the mast." Tuesday is fine, Wednesday is rain, wind and recurring Atlantic lows till Sunday. First lesson in Europe's nemesis: weather (and tides).
"In Holland you need an umbrella, sometimes for the sun, normally for the rain."
Sahula's mast remains reclining on deck. Lows sweeping in from the Atlantic end the sun, usher in grey days of rain and wind.
Wood on boats (decks, spars and bright work) is smeared in light green algae.
"Autumn is fine but cloudy - nothing dries (after a long winter)."
Between the lows, a sunny day. The mast goes up. A spindly crane slowly lifts. Don't worry" says Roy (marina manager) grasping the heel, wrestling it to its deck pad, "attach the stays", "don't worry it will stay up" - Skipper looks unconvinced. It does.
Sahula is becoming a sailing boat. "Becoming" requires stays fixed, rig firm and mast aligned, boom on, sheets, halyards in, electrics attached. A working ship.
In come other low, delays. "Spring was a perfect "summer" but now...it is global warming."
Ad, Amsterdam wood carver, yoga teacher and yacht owner (45 foot Van de stadt), Ad, invites Skipper on a city bike tour, seeing the parts not known to tourists.
Radar screen registers a blank. Geert, Amsterdam's sole radar engineer (it is holiday time, Roy phones to answering machines) says change the junction box. It works - Skipper registers embarrassment - simple solution to a complex problem). Wind registers, lights bare brightly - Skipper is relieved (again).
Sun shines - pacific Nieuwendam to busy Amsterdam harbour. Sahula follows the locals to the lock (8 yachts inside) (locks role is to keep the water level in Amsterdam constant - it varies in centimetres) to Markermeer (originally seawater, the Zuider See is divided by two dykes creating freshwater, Ijsselmeer and Markermeer).
Marken is a small, 15th century fishing village, originally on an island, its mostly dark green wooden houses are built on mounds amid canals. Sahula in the marina, enjoys its evening beauty free of tourist crowds.
Sun gone, wind increases, rain - Sahula sails for Hoorn (20 euros a night) - headquarters of the Dutch East India Company (VOC) past a fleet of two or three masted, gaff rigged, blunt bowed, trading (now charted) barges.
These Dutch yacht sailors are hardy. In full stormy, wet weather, families (school holidays) - adorned in full wet weather rig - head out. Undeterred by grey lows rolling in; ever hopeful for the sunshine.
Sundowners looks to Hoorn's 17th century Harbour Tower and gravity defying town facades, across resting trading (now charter) barges.
A re-enacted Cheese Market in the city centre recalls Holland's dairies. Ben dons a shoulder bucket holder and joins the costumed parade.
Mainsail up, before a freshening Markermeer, Sahula speeds to Enkhuizen, second port of the VOC, accompanied by a fleet of yachts and barges. A lock transports the fleet into the Ijsselmeer and harbour marina (25 Euro a night). A soulless place, it does no justice to the VOC fleet and merchants that traded here.
From all over Holland, relocated buildings, representative of the past, recreate a culture otherwise lost. 15 acres of street scapes represent a hard life. Freshly smoked herring makes up for a rainy day.
Marina berths are a "box," between two poles into which the yacht enters bow to the wharf.
Winds are forecast to lessen (from 75 knots!). Sahula departs -alone. The only occupant of the lock, Tanya punches, spray flying, into a freshening gale and short steep sea (depth 3m), for Monnickendam but opts for a closer peace at Hoorn. Crew nervousness noticeably decreases.
Ben "escapes" for a hotel and conference in Bonn.
Dawn is blue skies, yachts pour out, Sahula (Di skippering) also - for Monnickendam. A rigger is available to set the mast (113 euro). UV cover on staysail is replaced (400 euro).
Fundamental - when in Holland do as the Dutch sailors do (or don't). Full cover wet weather gear is de rigour - for all the family. Nothing deters. Inland seas do not have swells or large waves. Sailing before the gale, fleets leave port.
Monnickendam - evening rain showers (Marina - 20 Euros a night). Rigger aligns the mast. Expertise is difficult to find in summer school holidays.
Crew bicycle (supplied by each marina) to ancient Volendam, site of massed tourism. Gratefully return to Monnickendam.
Sahula is here for three nights awaiting Ben's return. Then it is onto Amsterdam and the Mast Up canals route to Rotterdam.
Next Report: Mast Up Route
25 June 2011, Frankfurt
Passage Report: No. 61
On ye Bike - Frankfurt to Wurzburg
The mind was in synch, was the body? Lack of berths had prevented Sahula visiting the riverside, medieval towns. It was time to reclaim. Skipper, hired Bruno (bike -not quite Brutus) (80 Euro per week) and headed off, over 215 km, to Wurzburg.
The trail, a bitumen track, signposted, exclusively for cyclists (no helmet required), followed the Main River. Germany is laced with similar facilities.
Tent and sleeping bag on the rear carrier and a backpack overloaded for all eventualities, Day One effortlessly spruiked some 50 km.
Can you tent in the fields? At 1700, muscles complaining, tent up - no one objected (or dared!).
Barges passed, ducks - ducklings, swans - signets, glided by - a Sahulian view reversed. Evening rain - good book (Ken Follett) Skipper was snug and oblivious. Dinner was cold sausage and "brot." River wash and shave.
Historic village centres yield mid morning "Backerei" (bread, patisserie), midday meal and "eis" (icecream).
Schloss Johannisburg (12th century, Archbishop hilltop, palace, destroyed shell 1945, rebuilt - madness of war), Schloss Schonbusch (17th century, Archbishops garden palace), aristocratly, rose above the cobbled lanes, leaning, cross timbered houses, spired churches, of ancient Aschaffenburg. Superb, slow, touristic, progress.
Sulzbach, Wallstadt, Obernburg, Klingenberg (stone Teddy Bear -7493 Teddies - Guinness Book record) - orderly, spotless, human less, seeming surreal, villages. Chinese restaurant connotes change.
It rained, it poured - Skipper swept along, wet, cold and fast. Then sun dries all.
Bruno slows - river views tent, book - rest.
Miltenberg "backerie" breakfast, empty, morning quiet of a town time unchanged. Window flower "pots" create colour splashes. Flowers seem especially bright or luminous. Castle ruins remain the river guardian.
Suburban industry, neat, clean, prosperous, ensures a decentralised village economy serviced by road, rail and river.
Curiously common, village cigarette machines facilitate smoking.
Cross river, the trail charts through Freudenberg, under Wertheim's red towering monastery and river bridges, reflecting the red rock, river cliffs and ancient quarries.
Speed trains rocket by, cars hurtle on parallel "paths." Then diverge to peace of red, purple, blue and yellow, poppy, wildflower, silver, blue, patchwork, wheat fields.
Cyclists - adorned to test - spiral by; Bruno ambles on, soaking in the agrarian idyll.
Markt Heidenfeld, Rothenfels, Lohr - Skipper's raw seat, tested muscles demand rest - tent up, river birds gather. Curious dog exercising locals have been to Townsville, Australia.
Bells toll to herald dawn. Gemunden, Karlstadt and destination Wurzburg.
City of Prince Bishops, palaces, cathedrals. 1945 records massive bombing leaving building shells. Since rebuilt to again a magnificent river town (120,000 - 25,000 students)
Skipper opts for central Hostel Fish (17 Euro a night) - two nights of bunk bed, hot shower! Raw seat, unknown muscles - recuperation.
Enough, "body" books on a train to Offenbach, Sahula. A packless bike ride to 17 - 19th century, aristocrats Schloss Philippsruhe (Hanau). Hanau is home to the Brothers Grimm - fairy tales.
Germany is laced with bike trails. They are popular. These are exclusively for cyclists and pedestrians. They are bitumened, well maintained and signposted. Along the rivers they relatively flat. Hostels exist in most towns (17 -25 Euro per night). Some hotels offer special deals to cyclists.
A superb trip would be the Romantic Road trail from Wurzburg to Fussen (Neuschwanstein Castle and Zugspitze alps). An English couple advised it took eight days or longer.
Skipper tented out each night at random, natural sites on the river bank. It was free, with a river wash. There were no security issues. The bike was locked to the tent.
Evening meal was cold food bought in villages. Backerie's or small restaurants provided breakfast and lunch.
Cost of the trip was minimal - some 20 euros a day. Train was 26 Euros. Bike hire - 80 Euros a week, 100 Euros deposit from Hex bikes in Frankfurt. A suitable seat is critical or suffer!
09 June 2011, Frankfurt
Passage Report No. 60
Danube Report from Sahula submitted to Cruising Association of UK.
Sahula is now in Regensburg, Germany. She has completed a cruise from Istanbul, across the Black Sea to Constanta, Romania and up the Danube.
This is a short report on the Danube cruise. More details are on a blog site - www.sailblogs.com (Sahula) and videos on YouTube (davidhaighsahula).
Sahula is an Australian registered, 9.5 tonne steel, 12m x 3.5m x 1.5m (1.6-7 loaded), "Van de Stadt 36" sloop. She had a crew of two and a Yanmar 54 hp motor. Average revs used: 1800.
The cruise started from Teos Marina, Sigacik (Izmir) on the 15th March, 2011 via the Dardenelles, Marmara Sea to arrive in Istanbul on 25th March. At Istanbul, she anchored in Yesilkoy small boat harbour awaiting crew from Australia.
After the Bosphorous and awaiting weather, she left Poyaz fishing harbour (Turkey) on 4th April to cruise (2 nights) across, direct, to Port Tomis Marina, Constanta, Romania.
After the mast was stored along the deck (and excursion to Bucharest), on 12th April, Sahula entered the Constanta - Danube Canal. On 13th April the Danube odyssey began. Some 6 weeks later, Sahula arrived, some 2000 km later, in Regensburg. Another option is to enter the Danube Delta - a natural heritage site.
Over long days an average of 70 km was travelled each day. Distances of 100 km a day were achieved if current was reduced by dam lakes in the latter parts of the River.
Current was some 2-3 km through Romania, Bulgaria and into Serbia, Croatia to Hungary. An exception was the Hells Gate (or gorge) section were, while a dam reduced current, the narrow river provided some. Also a local" gorge" wind against current created, in parts, a 2 m sea. Going uphill Sahula "surfed" before it. The River was closed to commercial traffic. At other times as well the "rear" wind assisted the daily average.
The lower Danube, through Romania, Bulgaria, Serbia, is a meandering, wide, peaceful place, past villages, fisherman huts and small boats. Hungary is the same, albeit with more prosperous villages. Sahula anchored (near sand banks to lessen risk of tree obstacles) each evening between town stops. Beautiful Ruse was Sahula's first stop. The Ruse Yacht Club provided a welcome and facilities.
Checking in with Border Police, customs and harbour master was, at times,
bureaucratic but officials were generally friendly and efficient, albeit, within non-sensible systems.
Fuel was available but requiring carrying containers from the local service station. A container trolley is useful.
Town berths for visiting yachts are generally non-existent. Pontoons cater solely for commercial traffic, especially the passenger boats. In some cases this meant not stopping or anchoring. A dinghy crossing is not for the faint hearted.
Belgrade, Budapest, Vienna - beautiful cities - but Budapest is the "Queen of the Danube." It embraces the River as no other.
Industrial visual degradation (reported especially in the lower part) is mainly confined to large towns. It is not overwhelming. River pollution is not an obvious issue.
The River was shallow in places. A River boat captain suggested Sahula "move along" due to seasonal shallowing. Locals reported the lowest river height in memory. Dunafoldvar, Hungary was nominated as the lowest river height (there are less dams) but Sahula found the German sector, (between dams) after Passau (Inns River [larger than Danube] junction), the most persistently shallow i.e. less than 2m (1.7m) and the channel, at times, very narrow (less 100 m). Current increased to some 5 km in places. However, generally, depth averaged 2-3 m. Large barges and passenger boats (some 120m long) draw 1.5 - 1.6 m. Their skill in navigating the winding, vagaries of a changing river, at speed, at night, is remarkable. "...we follow the red line on the digital chart..." - such faith. Skipper observed two survey boats on the Danube.
At no point did current put at risk Sahula's journey. A large rope around the propeller in Viden, did, however, almost have this effect. Generally, the River water is green and clean (Blue from local hills). Engine water was not blocked at any stage.
Sahula's references included: Danube -a River Guide (Heikell 1991), Cruising Bulgaria and Romania (Allardice, 2007), 8 chart books (Pierre Verberght - updated). The latter is the "official" navigation aid. They are critical. Charts (same as in the books) are also available on the Web.
Agency for Exploration and Maintenance of Danube River (Bulgaria HQ Ruse): Danube Charts and information - river heights, floods, weather ...: www.appd-bg.org
Water levels for Europe: www.elwis.de
Digital charts Europe waterways: PC Navigo by Pierre Verberght (Holland) 0032 475 490131. Cost (2011): 400 Euro. "...Put in the boat details and the intended trip. It calculates the time to do it and depth available..."
Heikell, while mostly out of date on river information, provided an overall map and interesting historical information on many towns. It is still a useful book.
There is other material, printed in German, including a large reference on "The Danube."
Distance and navigational markers "dot" the whole River. They are well maintained. River heights are also signposted, at infrequent, points.
CENVI navigation regulations apply. A "blue" flag is advisable.
A 2m draft yacht could do the trip. Obviously, shallow draft is useful. This year, river heights were historically low. Rains and snow melt came through in December, January. In another "wet" year, deeper draft is possible.
It is difficult to determine when to do the trip. Spring is reported as flood time. However, these occurred in December, January. Sahula commenced early (in the cold) and would recommend this time. Weather was generally good, with intermittent, rain and cold in the lower reaches. Only in late May was swimming possible or enjoyable.
A remarkable, memorable journey. Sahula passed 4 "downhill" small yachts. She was reported as the second to transit "uphill" and the only Australian yacht.
The cruise will continue up the Main - Danube Canal, down the Main and Rhine Rivers. Originally to re-enter the German canals from Duisburg to Lubeck on the Baltic. However, due to a short three month Schengen visa for "foreigners" this was changed to Holland and the UK.
Skipper David Haigh is able to be contacted on [email protected]
09 June 2011, Frankfurt
Passage Report No. 59
Regensburg to Frankfurt
"Push off," Sahula is swung by the current, the aft mast end hits the concrete wall, a mast light and wind indicator paddle snap - the price for not removing them. Fenders are placed on the mast ends.
Sahula is at the Regensburg marina. "Don't worry it is soft" "It will rain on Friday." Sahula is "perched" some 20 cm balanced on her keel, pontoons lines are bar tight. Overnight the River has dropped.
Five locals pushing, a motor boat pulling and Tanya revving - Sahula leans to and breaks free to another berth.
A revisit (by train) to Passau to see Captain Jord (River Countess) at his home. A visit to the Government "Foreigners" office with Jord speaking German results in "You must leave end of visa." (no agreement Australia and Germany).
Skipper must now rethink the next part of the trip. It is resolved to cruise the Rhine to Holland and leave for the United Kingdom for winter and home then next season to Norway.
Sahula, departs, threads the "700 year old bridge," clunk - a hidden obstacle strikes hard the hull. Steel is a friend.
At Kelheim, another of Ludwig 1's folly's,( other is Walhalla temple, Regensburg) the "pudding" like "Liberation (Napoleon's defeat) monument squats high above the River.
"Marina" means Sahula's keel rests in silt overnight. (11 Euros - Kelheim Yacht Club)
Past the dividing marker: Danube to left, Main - Danube Canal to right. 7 weeks and 2412 km to the Black Sea, 2012 to Constanta Canal. Skipper congratulates Crew on a job well done. Sahula and Tanya (engine) likewise. A unique and remarkable adventure.
Ahead the Main - Danube Canal to Bamberg - 16 locks, 171 km, (3-4 m), ascending to 406 m.
A swan family swim idly by, signets resting on mother's back. Castles perch above river villages.
"Lyaemer" (2100 tonnes) is Sahula's ticket to a speedy transit through locks. Locks fit one barge and a "sportsboot." She also created "horibulus lockius."
Sahula was trapped - if she swung out from behind the barge she would meet 2000 tonnes exiting the lock. Drifting, the rudder felt the shore rocks. Full ahead, barge forward propeller surged, Sahula bounced, missed the now almost past barge and was free. Dark disaster is never far.
To Holland downhill from the 406 m summit. Five locks (three: 24 m) to Nurnberg.
Green and Red navigation markers changed sides - uphill markers from sea.
Dusk, Sahula moors behind "Stormy" (German yacht enroute to Romania) at a factory river wall.
Guests of Klemens (lawyer and yacht owner of Nurenberg)and Reiko, to a Bavarian biergarten.
Lock, lock and locks - 34 locks over 384 km to Frankfurt each between 20 minutes to an hour.
Varied locks yield surprises: turbulent up, calm down, through draining current, static or floating bollards so far apart "sportsboots" can only use one, two closing gates in one, exit gates sink or rise, non or English speaking lock masters, one lock master manages a number of locks using cameras, sportsboots yield to commercial barges, turbulence from exiting barges, sportsboot "waiting" wharf - too shallow or non-existent, other sportboots (rowing sculls, motorboats) crowd space. Patience is a virtue.
Rural greens - ochre steepled, orange/red roofed villages - unchanged patchwork of agrarian life.
"Venetian" Bamberg, "unspoiled gem of medieval and Baroque architecture (2300 buildings declared World Heritage).
Locked out (lock repairs), Sahula alongside a barge, Skipper walks to the local village - neat, impossibly clean, a large church citadel and a "backerie" - hot bread shop.
Garden rural fields - a Monet of red poppies, purple, white, yellow wildflowers. Steep, terraced vineyards line the hills blessed by chiselled stone icons.
Wuzburg, city of Prince Bishops, bridges, churches and hilltop monastery.
Weinberg Yacht Club pulls Sahula to the wharf, "It's only soft" (1.4-5 m)(12 Euro). Passing barges suck out, then fill the depth. Alarms ringing, Sahula departs.
Holiday time: massed tents, campervans and village festivals. Sahula cruises cautiously between swimmers, skiers, canoes, rowing sculls.
Anxious ducks, geese, swans and frantic families quickly cross.
Navigation lights signal late dusk alongside a lock wall.
Maintenance is avoiding the unprepared. Calcified loo pipes give Skipper a lesson.
Sahula "races" to Frankfurt, arriving a week early at Speck Marina, Offenbach (12 Euro/night).
Skipper must now resolve the way ahead: to Holland and England or to Baltic and Finland.
Next Report No. 60: Frankfurt, Rhine to Holland.
6th June, 2011
25 May 2011, Regensburg, Germany
Passage Report No. 58
Linz to Regensburg, Germany
Sahula, welcomed by Johann, is in Linz alongside one of the few visiting boat wharves (1 Euro per metre, water, electricity, no wifi¸ supplies, fuel station nearby, riverside walk to city or No. 27 bus).
The centre; a mix of old and new, expresses the city's industrial prosperity. Clean, bustling, a new "glass" art gallery and technology museum, it is a city of the River.
It's been a long day. The Danube weaved its way through the narrow, dam flooded gorge, hedged in by forested hills. Cyclists crowded the river side tracks.
After three locks, Sahula entered Germany - 2200 km and seven countries since the Black Sea.
"Have you seen a red Australian yacht?" - Lock masters phone to confirm a Sahula sighting. Cyclists, Leo and Barbara, (German) are friends of Crew. They "found" Sahula and were aboard for two days.
After four attempted anchoring (dam flooded lakes are to alleviate prior fast rock rapids), in ebbing dusk, Passau loomed large. A striking cityscape silhouette of medieval buildings and church spires at the junction of three rivers: Danube, Inn, Ilz. The salt trade, on large wooden boats towed by some 50 horses established the city's prosperity. The Inn flows fast and full. Its brown water mixing the smaller green Danube.
Fleets of passenger ships, attested to the tourist trade and the insignificance of one small yacht. Navigation lights on Sahula rested alongside the city river wall to be moved on by police at dawn.
"You can't stay here, there are no "sportsboot" berths till Heining..." - some 10 km upriver past the next locks.
"... you take the first bollard..." yelled the German lockmaster "...is this your first lock..." Skipper harboured foreboding as lock filling turbulence is dangerous (previous locks had filled on the entry end). The lock filled at the exit end. Never argue with a lockmaster.
Consistency in locks is missing. Their different construction dates provide many variations - filling method: exit or entry end, bottom (calmer) or at gate (very turbulent), floating or static bollards (some or all and which lock wall), if a bridge (combined lock, dam), the air height (lowest was 8 metres).
Sahula's "system:" fendered by two large "ball" fenders forward and mid aft, a wooden plank (rough, concrete lock walls) supported by two "conical" fenders, mid boat. Forward and mid boat bollard lines looped over a single lock bollard (bollards are wide apart).
Sahula contacts the lock master for instructions (VHF lock channel on chart) usually (unusual Sahula only docking) entering the lock after the "commercial" ships to take up bollards on the wall opposite the other boat. Turbulence from exiting ships is another issue. Sahula exits first only if advised.
With minimum pre-entry (average 20 minutes) and transit time (20 minutes), locks do not unduly hinder a day's passage.
The "sportsboothafen" (MYC) welcomed Sahula (all facilities, no fuel - 20 Euro a night).
"Orca's" voyage is to the Black Sea." It is shallow ahead..." Johann advises.
Bus to Passau. Cobbled narrow streets, tourist shops, medieval and 18th Century buildings for tourists, modern huge malls for the locals. Castle dominates on a hilltop with well presented museum and art gallery. Views of city below and Danube curving into the hills.
Spring is in the air - and the water. Evening families of white swans with five signets, joined by 7 ducklings.
Goodbye Deggendorf. The Danube, less Inn, is a much smaller (100m in places) rock strewn, stream. It seems a new, less major, River, winding through the plain... Its fast current cuts the narrowest and shallowest (1.9 m) over a longer distance. The "2m alarm" frequently rings its dirge. Barges (reassuringly, confident) pass by.
Weekend sun seekers line the pebble beaches. "Sportboots" (outboard, modern cruisers) streak by and anchored in off channel "bays."
Moored in an off channel "sportsboothafen" Sahula's crew dine at a beer garden. Snitzel, Spaghetti ice-cream, Banana Split, Disney Donald.
Cyclists depart, fresh "Sunday" bread shop, skype family, onto the River.
It is Sahula's shallowest day - 1.6-7m - "alarm" ringing. Skipper ponders the possibility of being 120 km from the 2400 km end on a shallowing River.
Sahula was twice, mud churning, caught by current, facing rocks. Barges prove reassuring.
Massive cumulus over mountains, give hope, prove illusory.
"Wanda" - 2500 tonnes, 110 m "...1.6m but propeller..." (was dredging).
Bogen monastery, steeple spearing, dominates from its "berg."
Evening berth past Straubing lock at the "sportsboot" wharf. Anchorages are not possible in rock strewn River. Riverside wharves, "yacht" clubs are invariably full, private and too shallow (1.4 or less).
Straubing was a River town till sliced off by a dam, lock and canalised lake. A map of Danube past shows riverine wet lands fed by a wandering watercourse. New dams for a deeper, less current, controlled, commercial Danube are controversial.
Passengers dance and dine oblivious to their passing ship's seemingly impossible intention; in the inky darkness, to navigate the rock strewn, shallows of Sahula's day.
"...it is the lowest I can remember..." Straubling local "... but it is ok from here..."
Captain Jord ("River Countess" - 115m passenger boat) "...sometimes it is millimetres to bottom..."
Sahula's last day but one on the River - in the heart of Europe. Day dawns calm, sunny. "De rigueur" is board shorts.
Land of a thousand white steepled villages, upon verdant green.
Islands of noisy, river bird colonies.
Within trees, an orchestra of the rites of spring,
Sahula snakes the "S" bends in the currentless calm.
From the hills above, in King Ludwig's huge whimsical, Doric temple (1842) 118 illustrious marble Germans stoically stand over the Danube.
St. Stephens spire spears above Regensberg's medieval city. A UNESCO World Heritage "cultural" site of well preserved cobble stone alleyways, angled, colourful, buildings, sidewalk cafes, plazas and parks
The sign says "sports" - a small boat harbour past the main town.
30 feet between pylons, Sahula enters, depth drops (2m), current surges, full on Tanya - 700 year old bridge remains unmarked - shore side tourist agog, Crew concerned.
It is too shallow (1.4), next marina, a berth (1.5m) (15 Euro/night - water, electricity, showers, fuel past next lock) - Skipper relieved...
Wifi and an internet cafés are rare in Germany. Skipper buys a sim card but finds skype is prohibited to prepaid mobiles. Government policy is to limit free phones to ensure profitable pay phones.
The "East German Gallery" exhibits a Max Peckstein (1900's impressionist) collection. Skipper is enjoying superb galleries in the Danube cities.
The "power tower" lifts thrill seeking passengers (Crew) to150 m. and drops - it is a Bavarian fair of side-show alley, beer halls and traditional dress.
Sahula is within 20 km of leaving the River at Kelheim. A time to relax.
Next Report: Goodbye Danube Hello, Main - Danube Canal.
23rd May, 2011