Report no. 57 Vienna to Linz
18 May 2011 | Linz
Passage Report No. 57
Vienna to Passau
Vienna is not Budapest, a Queen of the River. Vienna is not a river city. Its heart is its magnificent buildings, statues and palaces. It is a Royal city, seat of the Austrian- Hungarian and Habsburg empires. The River clips the centre but a modern diversion behind a canal, passes it further east. This is where Sahula rested at the Wein Marina.
A visit to the Shronbaun Palace confirmed Vienna’s place. This “Versailles” country estate provided the Habsburgs with time out in luxurious rooms or idylling in the garden acres of forest, statues, maze and zoo.
The city estate, the Habsburg Palace equalled it in all but the “smaller” gardens. Such opulence now survives for the milling tourists.
Other palaces housed the Habsburg art collection (fine art - pre-20th century) and many others. At the Albertina gallery (impressionist to modern) Skipper revelled in art that crowds pages.
Music and art are Vienna. Mozart and Strauss, provided the music for a concert in the ornate Konzerthaus.
The Danube is rarely (one work) a subject of art. Where done it is a background. Strauss “Blue Danube” being the exception. Strauss, from a Viennese, hilltop, café, viewed the River reflecting “blue” as it snaked to the horizon.
The lyrics ( “…saccharine sweet and banal…” (Heikell)), romanticise the everyday use of the River:
“Danube so blue,
You flow straight through
The meadows and dales
Vienna now hails
Your Silvery stream
With glistening gleam,
For hearts that are happy
Beat on your shores and sweetly dream
From the forest black
To the sea you track,
You give blessing while caressing,
And while flowing East,
You have never ceased
Joining shore to shore
Castles from on high
Watch you passing by,
Send a fleeting
And the mountain peak
On which sun beams streak,
Is reflected in
Your waves unique.”
(Franz Gerneth, 1890)
Crew attracted by an international ice hockey match travelled to Bratislava, scored no ticket, and couldn’t contain a propensity for Danube bridge jumping (at 0300).
“…never again…” - sitting is a painful.
Tanya (engine) “enjoys” new oil. Batteries, a refill.
“Stop, stop – slow down…” - frantic waving, Sahula was in the grip of a friendly barge skipper. The lock had no “floating” bollards on one side so Sahula was invited to tie to the barge. Sahula left the lock, alongside, as the barge gathered way she was slowly, healing, folding, alarmingly, under his vessel. With relief Sahula was let go. Its skipper tooted and waved farewell – unaware of the impending disaster.
At anchor, river calm, “sundowners” – contrasts.
“Rain in Germany, very good…” Barge ((Regensburg bound - 20 days from Constanta, Romania) is keen to raise the river level. “…a flood? Skipper asks, “… only centimetres…” Tanya (engine) ponders…
Rain, wind, cold. The Wachau valley, reputedly the “jewel” of the Austrian Danube, beckons through two dam, two locks.
A passenger boat steams by. Sahula ties to a “floating” bollard astern (there are none on the opposite side)) of the passenger boat but too close to the rear gates where the filling water turbulently boils and surges. Sahula’s mooring lines and fenders are tested.
Current races through the narrow (and shallow 3-4 m), Wachau Valley. The Schonbuhel Castle (atop) riverside rock narrows the river, divided again by a mid river outcrop, plunges through a side, white water rapid. Tanya’s revs increase (2200) to slowly pass against the racing current.
Anchorages are difficult to find. Mooring pontoons are reserved for passenger boats and ferries.
“…best anchorage so far…”: Crew. Sahula anchors (2-3m) in a close shore eddy, off a sandy beach, opposite ancient, Durnstein village, marked by a blue baroque church spire, cobbled streets, amid medieval buildings. English crusader King, Richard the Lionheart, spent years in the hilltop castle dungeon. (Heikell).
Castles, colourful heritage villages, spires, terraced vineyards compose the Wachau Valley. Tanya, at 2000 revs challenges the buoy surging, current (4-5 knots).
The many monasteries, large and small, testify to the religious power. Melk Monastery stands huge - many storied, yellow and onion topped. Villages may have two or more spires.
Skipper’s watercolours record the varying church spires. Maypoles (Xmas tree atop tall pole, red white streamers) adorn each village
Sahula slowly enters the Melk lock. A barge offers an alongside berth but experience says “no thank you.” Sahula is tied to fixed bollards. As the water rises mooring lines are moved to the upper bollard. In locks after Vienna, locks may (or not) have floating bollards only on outside (not middle wall where two locks) wall.
A “yacht” harbour (Marbach, off channel, off dam lake)) provides a quiet anchorage (2-3m).
At Ybbs lock Sahula rises 12 m. The end is “gated” to limit air height (8m).
A “new” duck, black with white head dives along the shore. Wildlife resides, mostly (exception: White Swans) unseen, in off river (out of dam lakes), wetlands. Dam lakes are walled to prevent flooding of low lying wetlands. Cyclists speed by on the wall paths.
Monasteries – testament to religious power – stand yellow, onion topped and multi-story on hills and in villages. The Melk Monastery stands large.
Pre-dams, Grein was a pilot station for the Strudengau Rapids and whirlpools. Today the River narrows between steep hills, flows fast but no rapids. Castles watch over.
Skipper does small sketches (ink, watercolour) of towns, churches – life on the Danube.
Two dams, two locks and calm lakes ensure Sahula does some 70-80 kms.
Lock technique is honed: berth alongside well forward and on left side. A “ball” fender forward and aft; a wooden plank fender on two “cyclinder” fenders between (rough cement walls). Lines from boat’s center bollard (kept tight) and from forward. Both lines to one lock bollard. Lock bollard maybe “floating” or fixed (moved as boat rises). Filling turbulence is usually from lock entrance end.
Sahula passes the Linz industrial pollution to a marina. Every marina has a “Hans,” to greet, render assistance, ease life into local needs.
Sahula is in Linz two nights to refuel, resupply and see the old city heart.
Next Report No. 58 Linz to Germany.