MARLOW TO THE MED

Join our Marlow 72 own­ers as they travel from Ger­many to the Mediter­ranean

Motorboat & Yachting - - Contents - WORDS AND PIC­TURES: Thomas Kit­tel

et­ting off from Ro­s­tock in Ger­many at the start of our long jour­ney to the Mediter­ranean, it’s hard to be­lieve that in a few weeks time we will be sun­ning our­selves in very dif­fer­ent climes. At least the strong east­erly wind is blow­ing in the right di­rec­tion to help us through Fehmarn Sound to Kiel, where we are greeted by at­ten­tive Ger­man cus­toms of­fi­cials in bul­let­proof vests.

Pa­pers checked, the main in­ter­est is our fuel tank. High diesel prices tempt some to use tax-free red diesel, which can be de­tected even when mixed with nor­mal fuel. We have noth­ing to fear but our tank ca­pac­ity of 13,000 litres makes us a prime sus­pect and they want a sam­ple. This fails due to the lack of a drain cock but they are sat­is­fied by an email from our fuel sup­plier.

Mo­tor­ing through the locks of the Kiel Canal is rou­tine for us and our berth at the SVC in Cux­haven is fa­mil­iar. But such fa­mil­iar­ity can lead to care­less­ness and the next morn­ing when leav­ing the har­bour back­wards, I turn in too early and ram the outer pon­toon. Luck­ily, it’s a light­weight float­ing dock that puts up lit­tle re­sis­tance to our 60-tonne Marlow. There is only paint and gel­coat dam­age to our hull, but the heav­ily bent pon­toon hangs sadly in the wa­ter. We dock at the nearby fuel pon­toon and deal with the port au­thor­i­ties, wa­ter po­lice and my in­sur­ers.

Mis­for­tune sel­dom vis­its alone and shortly af­ter leav­ing Cux­haven we are en­veloped in a dense fog on the Elbe. Many boats are only vis­i­ble to us as small coloured dots on the radar screen and sev­eral times I have to dodge them so I’m re­lieved when the fog fi­nally lifts. What be­gan as a prob­lem­atic day be­comes a glo­ri­ous one, cruis­ing un­der bright sun­light with just a lit­tle help­ing wind along the East Frisian Is­lands to Norder­ney. Since the weather at sea is fore­cast to be windy again, we de­cide to take the Staande Mas­troute which al­lows us to cruise through the in­land wa­ters of Hol­land. Even though we know a large part of the route, it is al­ways fun to steer our large ‘steamer’ through the pretty Dutch coun­try­side with its nar­row canals and bridges. This year we take time to stop over in Dokkum and get to know this ‘doll’s vil­lage’ with its dis­tinc­tive wind­mills a lit­tle bet­ter. Along with Lem­mer, Am­s­ter­dam, Haar­lem and Dor­drecht, Willem­stad is one of the high­lights on the Dutch sec­tion of our trip. Here we even man­age to get a place in the old small town port with­out a reser­va­tion. The har­bour is built into the for­mer citadel and Willem­stad is an at­trac­tive des­ti­na­tion – not just for boaters though, so be pre­pared for lots of tourists.

COURAGE NEEDED

Whereas last year jammed bridges gave much cause for an­noy­ance and un­planned de­tours to the North Sea, this time ev­ery­thing goes smoothly and we reach Bel­gium and Zee­brugge as planned. Here we wel­come our first guest on board be­fore leav­ing this fa­mil­iar ter­rain and head­ing for our first French sea­port of Dunkirk. This squares the cir­cle of our boat­ing ca­reer that be­gan 20 years ago with a char­ter in Pon­tailler-sur-saône when we hadn’t the slight­est clue about boats.

Dunkirk is not the most invit­ing place in the world from the sea: huge in­dus­trial build­ings with smok­ing chim­neys form the re­cep­tion com­mit­tee at the en­trance to the har­bour. If you are not tempted to con­tinue, you have the choice of two welle­quipped mari­nas.

Even in Boulogne-sur-mer, de­spite having a well-pre­served old town, there is still no real ‘French’ feel­ing. Much ap­pears to be care­worn – many places are empty and the sail­boat next to us is sprin­kled with verdi­gris, not help­ing to im­prove the am­bi­ence. But then comes Le Tré­port.

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Azura docked in the quaint town of Willem­stad The Kit­tels fol­low a cargo ship along the Kiel canal The nar­row canals of Amiens pro­vide a pleas­ant dis­trac­tion What be­gan as a prob­lemat i c d a y be­comes a glo­ri­ous one, c r u i s i n g with sun and a l i ttle wind

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