Antipole cruises

From Norderney to Rendsburg in the Kiel Canal

We departed from Norderney on Sunday and had an excellent sail outside the other islands and into the River Elbe, which eventually leads to Hamburg, so we were now in amongst big shipping.  The Elbe has a very strong tidal flow and we had made such good time that we had to stem the tide of five knots for several hours before we reached Cuxhaven – the first port on the river – around midnight.

CuxhavenWe berthed in the Americahafen close by the classic transatlantic ocean terminal The Steubenhöft from where the great ocean liners of the day had sailed for America.  The railway station lies still now, but it was easy to imagine it once bustling with passengers and porters as luggage was wheeled to the great ships lying on what was claimed to be the longest berth in the world.  We visited a fascinating exhibition in the Steubenhöft gallery showing the on-board experience for all passenger classes: first; second; third and steerage.  It is only first class on Antipole!  On Monday evening we were visited by Wolfgang, a friend of Ynskje’s from way back and who lives in Bremen nearby.

On Tuesday we took the flood tide up the Elbe, accompanied by a huge platform with three tugs, until we came to Brunsbüttel, where we locked into the Kiel Canal.  As the lock gates closed on us we said goodbye to tidal waters for the foreseeable future.  In the canal we are required to use our engine and the wind provided very little assistance, so it was a long motor to a kind of lay-by at Dückerswisch where we could get out of the way of the huge ships and stop for the night.  Actually, it was a rather lovely quiet spot and we relaxed, having achieved the most arduous part of our passage (as far as we know).

The next day it was another long motor with little wind to the old city of Rendsburg, which lies at the head of a lake off the main canal.  There we found a very pleasant water sports club with berths and all facilities.  We walked into town to look around and enjoyed a meal in the Altemarkthalle.

Rendsburg bridge

Rendsburg rail bridge, with train crossing, and which used to have a road transporter bridge underneath.

The River Eider is navigable from the North Sea as far as Rendsburg and the first link through to the Baltic (German: Ostsee) was by creating a canal from Rendsburg to Kiel in 1784.  But the Eider was not easy to navigate and in 1887 work started on a new canal from Kiel to Brunsbüttel.  It took 9000 workers eight years to complete.  Between  1907 and 1914 it was widened to take full-size battleships.  Today it carries a regular stream of shipping, as well as yachts.  Bridges for railways and motorways have to have sufficient clearance for the tallest ship, which makes them few and expensive.  So local traffic is served by numerous ferries that cross the canal and are free to use.

Tomorrow, Thursday, we expect to complete our transit of the canal and enter the Baltic Sea.

More from there in due course.  Tony & Ynskje xx


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