Monday, 26 August 2013

Saturday 24th August 2013 Bischofswerder lk – Kremmen Ruppiner kanal. 48kms 5 locks

Below Liebenwalde lock
Clear skies first thing, white clouds later, sunny and warm. There was a chilly mist over the canal when we set off at 6.15 am, winding quietly so as not to wake the crew on the small cruiser that had stayed overnight on the end of the lock waiting area opposite. We’d set off early to get down to the first lock for its opening time of 7 am. Luckily for us Liebenwalde lock was already full so the gates opened as we turned the green bar to start the lock activation. Just us to go down, about 2m. Below there was one small yacht to come up. There were five more cruisers that had stayed overnight on the lock waiting area and one little yacht had bravely moored on the old quay, now taken over by WSA for storing the piles of rock they are currently using to edge the canals to prevent erosion caused by all the wash from the huge number of fast speedboats that now inhabit the region. 
Yacht moored on the former lock waiting area
below Liebenwalde lock
Two pans had been loaded with rocks, one by the quay and one on the dolphins, ready for moving on Monday morning. Turned right on to the Oder-Havel Kanal (OHK) at 7.20 am. Nothing moving, but we could see a commercial way off in the distance behind us. Hoped that we would get to Lehnitz before or shortly after him in case we could lock through with him. The forests lining both banks of the OHK were silent; the only movement was a single jay flying across the canal. We arrived at Lehnitz at nine as four cruisers that had just come up the lock and were heading towards us at full speed. 
Waiting above Lehnitz lock
We tied on the waiting area and found the intercom was broken and there was a notice with a phone number. Mike rang the number and got two recorded messages in German. No idea what they said. However, next to the red traffic light (put there especially for sport boats) there was an electronic message board that said next locking for sport boats and 10.00 am appeared. Then it changed to 9.45 am. The commercial behind us arrived at 9.45 am – a Polish Bizon tug pushing two pans of coal. He went slowly into the lock and, even though there would have been ample room for us behind it, the gates closed. 
Cruisers going into Lehnitz lock to go up
The board changed to 10.30 am. A cruiser arrived and moored behind us. The crew spoke good English and explained the situation in Berlin to Mike while I made tea and toast. You have to have Marine VHF to call Mühledamm lock. Also the Landwehr kanal works one way, but they weren’t sure which way, as one of their books on Berlin said one way and another book said the opposite. They had just finished their holiday in the lakes and were returning to their mooring in Potsdam. Queues at Lehnitz were common, they said, and two hours waiting time was not unusual. Another Polish tug and empty pan came up the lock and the time changed to 11.00 am.
Below Tiergarten lock. Ruppiner kanal 
Meanwhile another five cruisers and three canoes had arrived to join us at the waiting area. We did actually get in the lock for 11.00 am. I baked some buns in the oven for lunch while we dropped down 6m slowly. (The crew on the cruiser told us there IS a lock keeper in the cabin here, same at Spandau.) Exited Lehnitz lock at 11.15 am on to Lehnitzsee. An impressive number of cruisers had gathered on the waiting area below the lock. Noted that there was still a mooring area at the upstream end of the lock waiting area, so it is still possible to moor there and pay a visit to the nearby WWII War memorial at Sachsenhausen. The edges of the lake contained many anchored boats. 
Navigable width markers!
An osprey flew over as the cruisers gradually disappeared into the distance. Back into the narrower channel of the OHK and on through the outskirts of Oranienburg with lots of holiday homes along both banks of the navigation. A nude man went swimming past us as I went indoors to make lunch. At 12.30 pm we turned off the OHK at Borgsdorf on to the Oranienburger kanal. Not far up the canal was a smart floating shed (private) with a shingled sloping roof. Another wait, this time below the lock at Pinnow. We moored behind a small cruiser to wait for the lock to be operated (by a lock keeper) on the full hour (this is another new thing) during his opening time (8 am til 18.30 pm at weekends during the summer, shorter hours during the week). At 1 pm the lock keeper let a cruiser from above down first then we went up with the small cruiser that had been waiting with us. The lock was 43.2m wide by 9.6m wide and lifted us 2.4m, press-button operated by a very thin elderly man in shorts. The guy in the cruiser and his young daughter held on to the bars in the lock wall using short boat shafts with plastic hooks. 
Moored at last on the old quay at Kremmen
They let go as the lock gates started opening and the light wind blew them alongside us, causing the keeper to tell them that they mustn’t let go until the gates were fully open. He waved them on as the gates were almost fully open. 6kph speed limit on the canal above. We were doing our usual 5-6 kph but the cruiser was soon way ahead of us. Just beyond the Kaufland supermarket, and at the closest point to the town centre of Oranienburg, there was a newly rebuilt quay, which looked like an ideal stop for us. No boats were moored on it, one campervan was parked there and we slowed to take a look to see if there were mooring charges. No, but the signs gave limiting sizes and weights for vessels mooring at the quay. (What! It’s concrete, with massive bollards and ladders; it was once a commercial quay.) We were too long as the max length allowed was 12.5m! Rats! We pushed on. The narrow canal was tree lined with houses beyond, the banks were edged with rocks and reeds and waterlilies. We passed the three canoes, (just pulling into the bank to have lunch no doubt) that had come down Lehnitz lock with us – they must have taken the shorter route via the Oranienburger Havel, portaging their canoes and camping gear around the weir. The crews waved as we went by. At the crossroads where the Havel runs off to the right, we turned left on to the Ruppiner kanal. A sign at the beginning of the canal warned that it was only 1m deep. For the first 2kms it was nearly 2m deep and still tree lined with rocks, reeds and waterlilies all along the banks. Again the lock working times had been restricted to on the full hour during the keeper’s working times. We stopped on the waiting area below Tiergarten lock and waited until 3 pm. The chamber was smaller than Pinnow at 41.2m long x 6.8m wide and had a lift of just 0.8m. Another elderly man worked the lock, pressing buttons to open the gates to let a cruiser and a canoe out before we went up. He was chatty, but spoke no English. He warned us to be careful and stay in the middle, as there were still trees in the canal from the freak storm we had at the beginning of the month. He was right, there was much more tree damage here than on the Voss canal. He said the Ruppiner had been closed for three days to clear the felled trees. We looked at the wooden edged quay just above his lock, but we would have had no TV there due to the height of the trees and the quay was occupied by fishermen anyway. We pushed on again, noting that many of the trees along the canal had been brought down by the storm. We took photos of a bridge that was lastkahn sized (ie just the width of the working boats that used these canals) that had EU regulation markers for the navigable width of the bridge – all of it!! We’d left Tiergarten at 3.20 pm and didn’t expect to do the 5kms to Hohenbruch and get there before 4 pm. Below the lock was a WSA tug (small sized) and a pan full of cut up trees. To our surprise the lock gates opened as we arrived and a middle-aged man worked the lock from a cabin by his house. We rose 0.7m and Mike managed to follow most of what the keeper said. As we left I said to Mike that I remembered mooring above that lock on the waiting area when we came here in 1999, we’d managed to moor either side of the waiting area, either us or Pensax backing into the weirstream.  A bit further on another place that we’d moored was now overgrown and no TV due to height of the trees. Tree debris was everywhere, trees had blown down and toppled others so a row of them were down along the bank. We passed a digger on a pontoon. A forestry house had had a near miss when a very large tree had come down not many yards from it, now lying parallel to the end walls. We thanked our lucky stars that we hadn’t been here rather than in the shelter of Lehnitz lock chamber when the freak wind struck. To have seen all these trees falling would have been very frightening indeed. The 3.5kms section of canal above Hohenbruch was dead straight and in the heart of the forest. As we approached the small town of Kremmen the trees thinned out. A camper van was parked on a track on the left between trees, the family was fishing. A small boat went past heading downhill as we reached the quay. All along the edges of the cabin high quay concrete quay were loops of rebar sticking out which were ideal to tie to. It was 5.45 pm, we’d been going for 11.5 hours, 2.5 hours of that had been spent waiting for locks. Mike decided to leave collecting the car from Burgwall until the next day. He trimmed off the vegetation growing out of the wall to minimise the number of invading insects (we get lots of spiders and sometimes ants) and we went indoors to collapse in a heap!

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