Log #14h Amsterdam to Keil

June 29, 2000 in Log Series 11 - 19, Logs by Series, Series 14 London To Holland, The Logs

Log #14h Amsterdam to Keil ‑ 2

Date: Thu, 29 Jun 2000 06:41:01 ‑0400 (EDT)
Arisaig, Scotland

June 23/00
Hi Folks,

I hope you have received our log#15c from our friend Judy Johnson who was to try to send it from her computer back in B.C. If so, you know how horrible the weather was. It is still bad, but we are resigned to this Scottish weather now and just stay put when it is blowing hard. Ihope you get this directly from me as I will be sending it on a land phone line as our mobile phone connection does not transmit well; only receives.

We are enjoying the rugged scenery and cloudy rainy weather here in the west coast Highlands. We have gone through the Great Glen, which includes Loch Ness, and have enjoyed several other lochs and bays of this picturesque coastline. We are into the cruising mode again, taking our time to spend two or three days at anchor in one loch to relax, explore, go for walks, harvest mussels, read and start to catch up on my logs.

This one ends the #14 series, getting us up into the Baltic. I hope to get the travels through Denmark, Sweden, Norway and the horrendous experiences in the North Sea in my #15 series completed so I can focus on the luxury of our Highland and Hebridean cruising. Incidentally, we can still download on our E‑mail even though we have trouble with our transmission of logs. We would like to hear from you, especially if you haven’t sent us anything for a while. We like to keep in touch with our friends.

All is well with us, except we may have to get a new engine for our dinghy and perhaps a new anchor windlass as our old one is seized up. Enjoy our final log of Holland and our entry into the Baltic.

Take care,

P.S. ‑ (June 27/00) Let me know if you did not get log #15c as I have been changing my address list, and I am not sure if my friend Judy Johnson got the last half of my list in the material she sent out for me. I just realized this possibility today as I was catching up on my correspondence. We are back in Arisaig, waiting for our new motor, a Mariner 10 hp for Sprite. We have sailed to the Isle of Rum and back to the mainland in the Highlands to Loch Scaveig a fantastic loch surrounded by mountains coming right down to the water. It reminded me of sailing up the B.C. coast. We had to ziz‑zag through some shoals and around some islands on which dozens of seals were lounging. It was quite impressive to look up from the boat at 2000 foot peaks on three sides of the pool we were anchored in at the head of the loch. The weather has even improved. We have had four warm sunny days now in our first month in Scotland, although it goes down to only 10C. at night.


Log #14h Amsterdam to Kiel

Written at Rosfjord, Norway
May 28, 2000

From Amsterdam we motored the few miles eastwards into the Markermeer, another large non‑tidal sea about 50 miles on the diagonal. After going through the Oranjersluis, the lock which took us from the North Sea Canal into the Markermeer, we stayed along the west side, sailing up to the Krabbersgatsluis which is the only lock in the 20 plus mile long dam separating the Markermeer from the Ijsselmeer. It was a lovely sail during which we saw a brigantine under full sail, including her royals. A graceful traditional tall ship! Immediately after the lock and bridge, we anchored in Enkhuizen Harbour, as the town harbour had a FULL sign at its entrance. There were four other boats at anchor in the harbour, just outside of a large full service marina with hundreds of boats. We prefer the solitude of anchoring, plus the fact it is free (and has been all over, except for some ports in England).

We lowered Sprite into the water and went into the marina to go to the Enkhuizen Museum, an extremely good marine museum combined with an outdoor village of old traditional Dutch houses and workshops, carefully moved from original sites all around the Ijsselmeer. These buildings were staffed by knowledgeable people who stayed in costume and character of the period, and showed and explained the life and work of their period. Judy particularly enjoyed seeing a rope making demonstration which took strands of linen (flax) and with an ingenious series of spinning wheels wound the flax in one direction to make the strands and the reverse direction to make the rope. Neat! Even as I write this, Judy is in process of making a net to cover our bookshelves while at sea. All her dental training and fine finger dexterity have not been wasted.

We also enjoyed seeing the steam engine which ran a turn of the century laundry. The engine did not clean the clothes as such, but provided the hot water and turned the big flywheel hooked up to the series of pulleys that tumbled the washers, with other pipes heating the attic area for drying. It was coal fired, and the engineer took great pride in showing how the pressure could be regulated and the various pulleys engaged and disengaged to get things turning and reversing directions for some machines. A cheese factory and storehouse illustrated the cheese‑making industry, and included several leeboard canal barges which were used to get the cheese to the markets held on different days of the week in various communities, as they are still. A working windmill was pumping water as was done to empty the polders. A large lime kiln displayed this industry, and apothecary shops, sweet shops, blacksmith shops, post offices, and a variety of farm buildings illustrated life and industry in early Holland.

A Bronze age community was well reconstructed, with explanatory notes in several languages including English. In all it was an excellent museum, well worth the cost and the day’s exploration, to learn about Holland and its contest with the sea. We would have liked to stay longer, but had to leave by early afternoon in order to get up 23 miles to the north end of the Ijsselmeer before dark, in readiness to head out into the North Sea the next day.

From Enkhuisen we had two choices. One, we could go back through the lock into the Markermeer, northwest over to Lemmer, and continue through 175 miles of canals with their associated locks and bridges, up to Delfzijl and out the Dollard into the North Sea. Two, we could, as we did, go across the Ijsselmeer to the Lorenzensluisen locks, out through the Waddenzee into the North Sea, and past the Frisian Islands up to the Kiel Canal. We preferred this route as we had had enough of canals, locks, and slow opening bridges, and we wanted to get out into some wide open sea sailing.

This route is tricky, as crossing the Waddenzee is treacherous due to the tidal currents, narrow winding channels, and shallow waters. The Waddenzee is very shallow and dries in many areas at low tide. The channel out past Terschelling can be negotiated only close to high tide, as there is not enough depth in several places, even in the channel, at low tide. This 25 mile long channel is apparently wide open water, reasonably well buoyed, but can be confusing at the channel junctions. But making such a passage after high tide is hazardous, as if the boat runs aground you may be stranded high and dry for ten to twelve hours until the next high tide. We had to calculate the time of the tides for the Dutch and German coasts in order to benefit from the tidal streams as well.

The final lock at Lorenzensluis was the most crowded lock we experienced. There were over 25 yachts going through with us, but they spread out once clear of the lock, as most were not going outside to the North Sea, but were doing more local cruising. Thus, we could not simply follow another yacht out the channel to find the way. We had to do our own navigation to keep us off the sand bars. It took four hours to clear Terschelling’s Westergronden, a long shallow area extending out the west end of the island. Once out, we had a lovely sail for almost 24 hours until the approaches to the Elbe River, up past Cuxhaven and on to Brunsbuttel, the entrance to the Kiel Canal inGermany.

During that sail past the Dutch and German  Frisian Islands, I was reminded of “The Riddle Of The Sands” by Erskine Childers. It is a good novel, set in 1903, about German imperial aspirations and preparations for war using the sheltered shallows of these  islands. This novel, written before WW I, was followed up recently (1998) by Sam Llewellyn’s “The Shadow In The Sands”, a continuation of the action of Childers’ book. Both books deal with specific locations around these islands, and present a plausible scenario preceding WW I. Childers’ book is considered one of the first “espionage” books to be written. Read them if you have a chance. They are good.

On our sail we had our first real fog since sailing in Lake Huron two years ago. We do not have radar and had to keep a good lookout. There were a couple of times we passed fishing boats only 200 yards away from us. By the time we got to the Elbe, the fog had cleared and we could see the  many ships heading into it, probably going to the Canal.

We made very good time up to the Elbe, but unfortunately the requirement to leave the Lorenzensluisen at high water meant we entered the river against an ebbing tide. So instead of doing 4 to 7 knots, we were fighting the tide and making only 2 or 3 knots into it. It took us over 4 hours to travel the last 15 miles. As we had been sailing for the past 30 hours, we were getting fairly hungry by early evening, so we anchored for an hour and had a hot sit down supper in the cabin before going the last 8 miles or so to the locks at Brunsbuttel, which would take us into the Kiel Canal.

Of course it was dark by the time we were abeam the entrance locks to the Kiel Canal, and trying to figure out where the proper entrance was proved a difficult task, as there were four locks, two Neuer Vorhafen and two Alter Vorhafen, fronted by a myriad of white, green and red entrance lights, masked by the white and yellow lights on the lock walls, making identification of the appropriate entrance extremely difficult. This is another of the difficulties of continuous cruising, the fact that every entrance is a first time entrance, and doing so in the dark is very nerve wracking. Another yacht waiting to go in radioed us and advised us that the locks were opening and to follow him in. Whew!

Yachts go in by the Alter Vorhafen; as it was dark and navigation on the canal is not permitted to yachts at night, we had to go to port immediately after exiting the lock to get to the yacht haven. O.K., now to identify the lights leading into the yacht haven. Of course it was not simple. We had to cross the adjacent channel, cutting in front of the Neuer Vorhaven, the locks for the big ocean going ships. O.K., no ships coming into them, so we cautiously made our way across the big ship lock entrance trying to see the entrance lights of the marina. Between the shadows and the lights we thought we had the entrance identified, when suddenly to our left there was a massive movement of black!

A large ship was exiting the locks into the canal, and we were so close we could not see its red or green running lights (as they were too high up), but it was coming towards us as we crossed to the marina entrance. We accelerate to get out of its way, as we were below the line of sight from its bridge, and the ship did not even know we were there. We scooted around into the entrance of the marina, and secured to the wall where we saw some space. It was the outer wall of the marina, separating it from the channel going into the lock. As we came alongside the jetty, we saw the massive steel side of the ship still passing by, a solid, black, 50 foot high wall several hundred feet long, silently gliding by on the other side of the pier only ten feet away from us. It was 2250 by the time we finally secured alongside and gave a sigh of relief as we watched the thrashing stern of that ship recede into the darkness up the Kiel Canal. It was a long sail from 0800 the previous day, a total of 38 hours to cover 190 nautical miles.

The next morning, May 3, I went over town to get some Deutsch Marks and a few groceries. This was my first time in Germany, other than a stopover in Munich on our way to Vienna last November, since I was over there as a teacher at the Canadian Forces NATO base in Lahr in the Schwartzwald more than twenty years earlier. It was a pleasant sensation, walking down the neat, clean German streets, seeing signs in German, and tasting the atmosphere of a country I lived in for three years a long time ago.

Upon my return to the marina, we paid the nominal fee of 12DM, and set off up the Kiel Canal. It is properly called the Nord‑Ostsee‑Kanal, built by the Kaiser in the early 1900’s to enable Germany to get her fleet from the Baltic base in Kiel out into the North Sea. It was a pleasant sunny day for the 55 mile motor up this tree‑lined waterway. It did not go through any large cities or industrial areas, but meandered through pastoral countryside, past the occasional small town and under a few high bridges that did not have to be opened. Some of them had attractive architecture, and one in particular held our interest as we approached it, as it seemed to have a ferry crossing immediately below it. Upon reaching it we found it to be a train bridge with a car transporter suspended beneath just above the water level, travelling back and forth with vehicles and pedestrians. We saw a variety of waterfowl, and people fishing from the canal banks, making a picnic out of the excursion with lawn chairs and sun umbrellas.

By 1800 we were in the Holtenau locks which opened as we approached, a refreshing change from the waiting we experienced in the Dutch canals. We paid only 32 DM (about $23.00 Cdn) for the transit of the 54 miles of the canal. A mile later were alongside the British Kiel Yacht Club, welcomed by a hearty British colonel who was the base commander and the British Cruising Association’s Honorary Local Representative.  I had taken my offshore skipper’s certificate course here in a Sabre 35 back in 1978, and was pleased to be in familiar surroundings. I proudly flew my old tattered BKYC pennant upon entry.

More about this base, Kiel, the German Naval War Memorial and our sailing in the Baltic in my next series, Logs #15. Up to May 3 we had traveled over 600 nautical miles since leaving London, April 14. In Holland we went through 11 locks and 56 bridges. In Sprite (our dinghy), going around Amsterdam, we went under 43 bridges. To this point, since leaving Toronto in July of 1998, we covered over 11,000 nautical miles.