Thursday, July 07, 2011

German exchange

The Polish yacht moored next to us in Brunsbüttel planned to leave on Tuesday evening, heading out into the North Sea, but had engine problems. They were all up at 6am, looking ready and trooping over our decks, so we got up too in spite of the fact that with a dodgy engine they were unlikely to push the tide, which didn't turn their way until after 8am. And indeed at 8 they finally got going, so we did too.

It turned out this was a bad move, as a mile along the canal we encountered three red lights, which means no navigation for yachts. We thought this must relate to a vast ship coming our way, but in fact the problem seemed to be fog, or at least mist. By 9am it had lifted, the lights went green, and we finally got going.

The Ostzee-Kanal took 9000 people eight years to build. It was completed in 1895 and widened in 1914 to permit Germany's warships to use it. It is wide, deep and all the bridges are at least 40 metres high. The ships which use it are quite small by modern standards, up to around 200m long and many only partly loaded, but they dwarfed the flotilla of yachts of which we were part, and created some interesting wash.

It has been a perfect day though, sunny and warm with occasional clouds and almost no wind. No locks, no opening bridges, just motoring between the wooded banks.

We are moored in Rendsburg, two- thirds of the way along the canal, where Guy came on a couple of German exchange trips many years ago. Fortunately we found a berth in the marina quite easily - our first Baltic long box mooring, with posts six or seven metres behind the stern of the boat, and the bow tied to the jetty. We came in pretty well, thanks to the help of Ben and a handy Englishman ashore to take our warps. It's a pleasant spot, at the head of a lake, with trees around the edge. We even managed to find a Bijou Brigitte, my favourite jewellery shop, in Rendsburg. So all in all a good day, and tomorrow we should actually reach the Baltic...

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