The Kiel Canal

John Apps rec­om­mends his favourite canal for a stress-free hol­i­day

Practical Boat Owner - - Contents -

Not just for tran­sit­ing…

Alot less lives were lost build­ing the Kiel Canal than the Panama Canal – but both ne­ces­si­tated a change of bor­ders and ma­jor po­lit­i­cal up­heaval to bring them about.

The Kiel Canal is marginally longer than the Panama Canal. How­ever, the Kiel only short­ens nav­i­ga­tion by hun­dreds of miles, not the thou­sands by which the Panama Canal short­ens the route around Cape Horn.

In this hum­ble leisure sailor’s opin­ion, it is far bet­ter-run than its more ex­otic coun­ter­part in Panama. When you ar­rive at the Panama Canal, be­fore you can even think about tran­sit­ing your boat is of­fi­cially mea­sured: you then have to wait sev­eral days un­til you are al­lo­cated a time a few days in ad­vance of when you are sched­uled to tran­sit. If you can’t tran­sit on the day al­lo­cated you will pay a fine and re-en­ter the wait­ing process.

You are re­quired to have four line han­dlers, although not all of them may be needed as you are likely to raft up to en­ter and leave the locks. You also need a pi­lot for each boat in the raft, and he has to be fed and pro­vided with sealed bot­tled wa­ter. At some stage you will have to pay for your tran­sit to a Pana­ma­nian bank.

To tran­sit the Kiel Canal you join a gag­gle of boats milling around out­side the locks at ei­ther Bruns­büt­tel or Holte­nau and wait to be di­rected to en­ter. I have al­ways done this sin­gle-handed and have never called up on the ra­dio to ask per­mis­sion, although many other sailors do. You en­ter the lock and ei­ther find a con­ve­nient place where you can moor to wa­ter-level pon­toons that rise and fall with the wa­ter, or find an­other boat will­ing to let you raft along­side. At Holte­nau you have to pay for your tran­sit, no mat­ter which way you are head­ing. For my Ri­val 34 in 2014, the charge was r18 each way.

On the Panama Canal, a fine is im­posed if you can’t main­tain a speed of 5.5 knots, and you are di­rected by your pi­lot on your ex­act route and an overnight stop­ping place, de­pend­ing which way you are go­ing. On the Kiel Canal, once through the locks the only re­stric­tions are that you must use your en­gine at all times, although you can aug­ment it with sails if the wind is favourable. There are also cer­tain hours of dark­ness when you can’t travel, and if you haven’t fin­ished your jour­ney there are des­ig­nated stop­ping places roughly ev­ery 20km.

Go­ing east, the first of these is at Bruns­büt­tel, where there is a ma­rina in­side the canal on the north­ern side as soon as you exit the locks. Bruns­büt­tel, al­beit slightly dreary in my opin­ion, does of­fer a wide range of ser­vices. The only time I stopped here I had a 23ft boat with an out­board, and petrol was dif­fi­cult to ob­tain after a long haul un­der en­gine up the Elbe. Even if I don’t stop at Cux­haven I usu­ally take the op­por­tu­nity to fill up at the 24-hour cardin-the-slot diesel pump at the ma­rina there.

De­light­ful stop­ping places

From the canal, some stop­ping places look like just a few posts out of the main traf­fic – but they can be de­light­ful on a fine sum­mer’s evening, in some cases of­fer­ing a des­ig­nated swim­ming area with sandy beaches.

You moor be­tween posts fore and aft at Dück­er­swisch. In the­ory, you moor with lines to two posts at the front and two at the back. While I could get two lines on the stern posts us­ing prop walk, be­ing sin­gle­handed I was only able to tie up to one post on the star­board side on the bow.

The next stop­ping place on from Dück­er­swisch is the en­trance to the Gise­lau Canal at 40.5km. I stopped here on my re­turn as I rather like go­ing down the canal into the River Eider. (There are along­side berths, and toi­lets are avail­able in the lock of­fice.) As with the Eider, this spot feels very un­spoilt. I think if you wanted to buy milk or bread it might be a long walk and a ferry trip across the Kiel Canal to Olden­büt­tel.

Rends­burg is at 66km up a dammed sec­tion of the old River Eider. From the Kiel Canal, Rends­burg looks very in­dus­trial, although it used to have a mag­nif­i­cent sus­pended ferry car­ry­ing cars across the canal. Now it is just a high-level bridge, and a new bridge is be­ing built to carry the ve­hi­cles that used to use the ferry.

Best showers

If you need fuel or food or a good night out, Rends­burg is the place to stop. There are a num­ber of mari­nas at the old River Eider go­ing to­wards Rends­burg: I have al­ways stopped at the Re­gatta-Verein Rends­burg (RVR) Ma­rina, which is clos­est to the town. It has its own restau­rant un­der um­brel­las over­look­ing the old Eider. Fuel is avail­able there at rea­son­able prices, and it has some of the best showers I have ever used at a ma­rina. There are two su­per­mar­kets to­gether just a short walk from the ma­rina, one of which is an Aldi.

A lit­tle fur­ther east from Rends­burg, at 70km, is the Borg­st­edter See, a lake left be­hind when the canal was straight­ened. This can be en­tered from ei­ther end, but due to a low bridge serv­ing a vil­lage it is not pos­si­ble to con­tinue through the lake. I have stopped at a small ma­rina at its western end, but fa­cil­i­ties were lim­ited – and if I need a ma­rina I would pre­fer to travel the ex­tra few miles to get to Rends­burg with its ex­ten­sive fa­cil­i­ties.

At 85.4km there’s a lake well off the canal called the Flemhuder See. There are a few moor­ing posts here, but most sailors seem to take ad­van­tage of the wide ex­panse of wa­ter to an­chor. Once again, there is an al­lo­cated swim­ming area.

There is a wait­ing area just be­fore the locks at Holte­nau, but nowhere in­side the lock where you can stop overnight. On the Baltic side of the Holte­nau locks there is a ma­rina to the left or, a few miles to the south, Kiel it­self. Un­for­tu­nately, the highly-re­garded Bri­tish Kiel Yacht Club which used to be to the north up the Kiel Bight is no more, but there are other mari­nas in that vicin­ity.

The Kiel Canal is one of the most de­light­ful wa­ter­ways in the world. In­stead of rush­ing through to get to the Baltic or home to the UK, take the time to en­joy the beauty that ex­ists both nearby off the canal and as you make your way along it. I have cov­ered some French canals in a mo­tor­boat, I have tran­sited the Panama Canal and have been on sev­eral UK canals, but my favourite for a stress-free hol­i­day is the Kiel.

The Panama Canal, ap­proach­ing Cule­bra Cut

A stop at Gise­lau Canal Lock. Toi­lets are avail­able at the lock of­fice

Stop­ping place at Duck­er­swisch, 20km from Bruns­büt­tel

The ship lock at Holte­nau be­ing shared with plea­sure craft

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from UK

© PressReader. All rights reserved.