|Skewed road bridge before Haren|
Warmer overnight, heavy rain most of the day, sunny spells around midday. Set off at 7.50 am to be at the first German lock for 8 am. The lock started emptying on the dot of 8 am. Gates opened, then the road bridge swung open causing long queues of traffic. Locks on the Rütenbrock are 28m long by 6m wide and all five locks plus lift and swing bridges are remotely operated by the keeper at lock five in Haren. The first one, lock two (the open flood lock at the beginning of the canal is counted as lock one) was the only uphill lock, we attached to bollards along the wooden edges and only rose by 0.1m.
|Museum boats at Haren|
Rain started pouring down as we continued 2 kms to the next liftbridge, which opened as we approached. Another couple of kilometres to the next bridge and lock three, again all worked perfectly by the controller in the office in Haren. Down 0.8m. Another couple of kilometres to the next liftbridge on the outskirts of the town of Erika. A longer pound took us to lock four, which used to be operated by a resident, very elegant lady lock keeper, her house now hidden by a thicket of pine trees. We dropped down 1.9m. The rest of the canal was only obstructed by moveable bridges. Under the 7m high road bridge of road number 31 then the liftbridge that caused us to have to wait ten days for the canal to reopen while they finished rebuilding it when Bill came with us to Poland. Today a mobile keeper operated it. Took photos of the strangely angled skewed lifting roadbridge. Under a fixed footbridge, past the museum where the boats all looked newly repainted and into the last lock, number five; the lock keeper came out to collect our toll of 2€ for the navigation (same as last time, nine years earlier).
|Old sloping sided lock chamber at Huntel|
We’d seen a notice by lock two that said something about a 20€ charge, but the keeper said this was for call out during the “closed” season, which has to be booked a week in advance. There was nothing moving on the river Ems as we left the lock (the keeper swung the bridge over the tail end of the lock so that Oll didn’t have to dismantle his mast) and turned right heading upstream. Strangely quiet, nothing moving. At Huntel the main lock (on the left) was closed and under reconstruction.
|Below Meppen lock|
We tied to the sportboat waiting area and the Snail hovered. Mike had called the keeper on VHF but didn’t understand his reply. The right hand chamber emptied and we went in. It was the first time we’d been in the right hand chamber and were surprised that it was sloping-sided with metal posts faced with well-battered wood the full length of the lock. The keeper wanted us to stay at the tail end, where there were piled walls each side – fine, except they were only about ten metres long so our bow ropes had to be slung around the first posts. The lock filled at the front so we felt little effect at the tail end.
|In Meppen lock chamber|
|Below Varloh locks|
That soon changed as an empty 80m commercial called Corroda came down the lock and another was coming upriver behind us. We attached to the sportboat waiting area and Mike went to have a look at the mooring above the lock. In no time the empty 85m commercial Fiducia went into the lock, waving us to come in behind him. A Swedish cruiser had been following him, his wash caught up a few minutes later and bounced the Snail around as Olly followed them into the lock. I hooted for Mike to hurry up. When he got back he said the mooring above was occupied by a tankership and there was no way we could get past it to moor on the sportboat area.
|In Varloh lock chamber|
We followed the Snail in (surprised that the keeper kept the gates open for us). More threading ropes round bollards up the wall for a further 2.9m rise. Nope, there was no way we could get on the mooring we’d been aiming for, so no other choice than to push on to Lingen. Another long straight section of canalised river, past the site of an old lock, then under the road bridge of the 70, which was busy with traffic at 5.15 pm. Past a huge chemical plant with a wide section where there were loads of moored commercials at the loading/unloading wharves and several berths with lines of bubbles to contain any spillages.
|In Varloh lock chamber|
Round the right hand bend back into the narrower canal section and met an 85m tanker coming the other way called Bea from Duisburg, its radar rotating and its hydraulic wheelhouse lowered to pass under a road bridge. Entering the outskirts of Lingen we were overtaken by two cruisers, a very large Dutch one called Aquamarin and a smaller German cruiser. We passed a new length of piled quay designated a mooring area with one small cruiser tucked up at the upstream end.
|Chemical works North of Lingen|
The large Dutch cruiser had come to a stop under a low bridge and had to back off to the quay, as his satellite dome and VHF antenna wouldn’t pass under the bridge. Four rowing skiffs came downstream followed by a loaded 85m called Capella from Hamburg and a tiny German yacht was following that. We turned left into the old basin at Lingen and moored between the cruisers on the long cabin-high wall in the pouring rain. It was 6.30 pm.