Thursday, 25 July 2013

Tuesday 23rd July 2013 Jnc Salgitter arm to Edesbüttel KP233.5 MLK. 21.1kms 0 locks

Hafen Braunschweig.
Very hot and sunny again. We set off at 10.15 am leaving the Snails to follow on in their own time. At KP215 a loaded tanker Linda B went past in the opposite direction. It was German registered, but had a Polish car on the stern cabin.

Meinholz railway bridge - trains run across the top
Not long after that we went past a wharf that had containers, scrap and great-heaped piles of coal. Past a big shopping centre with a huge IKEA sign at KP221. An old tanker boat went past called Yggrrasil, registered at Desau with a German flag, followed by three cruisers – two Dutchmen and a German. It was getting hotter and hotter. 

Junction with the Elbe-Seiten canal
built so boats could travel to and from Hamburg
without going through East Germany
A loaded Dutch boat called Meandro (84m x 9m 1,600 tonnes) registered at Maasbracht went past at KP 231. We moored at KP233.5 on the junction with the Elbe-Seiten canal on the short bit reserved for us behind an empty Dutch commercial called Janny from Zutphen. 

Moored in the corner at Edesbuttel
It was 1.20 pm. A young deck hand came to say hello, he was from the Janny and told us he was home alone, left to look after the boats whilst the skipper and his wife had gone on a five-week holiday to Thailand. 

Had lunch then gave Mike a hand to unload the bike off the roof and he went to get the car. When he returned we went shopping at Real at Gifhorn, just north of the mooring.
Passing tankership Michael - well, he had to have a photo of that one, didn't he! 

Monday 22nd July 2013 Abv Anderten KP175 to Jnc Salgitter arm MLK. 38.4kms 1 lock

Bolzum lock at the start of the Hlidesheim branch
Very hot and sunny. Dredging work started around seven directly opposite the boats which made the water bouncy. Our big ball fender that keeps the stern end off walls had broken loose and was floating by Snail. It was wrecked and useless as the eye had been ripped through. That’s something else for the shopping list. We set off at 9.45 am leaving the Snails to set off when they were ready. Traffic on the canal was busy already and the motorway bridge not far from where we were moored was busy too. 

Another mountain of salt MLK
Noticed there was a camera for the lock on the first bend so it had a good view up the long straight. More biting bugs, on with the Deet. One managed to start biting Mike’s forearm before he slapped it dead. A loaded 80m tanker called Naima went past at KP177. We were overtaken by a former Bromberger barge (Polish, now German registered) at KP183. Just before the junction with the Hildesheim branch, we spotted another pile of grey stuff that might be salt, a pan moored close by was full of the stuff. 

Unloading coal for the power station at Mehrum. MLK
At the junction with the MLK there is a lock on the Hildeheim canal at Bolzum which was 80m long with an 8m lift, now they’d built a new one alongside it which looked like it was already in use. There was a WSA yard just beyond the junction then the haven of the Sehnde Yacht Club where a fat narrowboat called Razzle Dazzle was moored on the outside of their quay. The couple on it were German (it had a huge full-sized German flag on the stern) and said they were the best boats in the world and they’d bought theirs in the UK.

Cruiser overtaking CZ boat Beatrice
with coal boat coming from opposite direction
I started making a new fly net for the bedroom door as Mike had wrecked the one for the front door so I’d replaced that with the one from the bedroom, as it was white voile and non-see through. The new one was black mossie netting, which can easily be seen through but, obviously, stops mossies. Coal boats were unloading at the power station at Mehrum KP194.5. I could swear I heard crickets in the woods. It reached a scorching 38.3°C. I made some tea as a loaded old Czech boat called Beatrice (79.4m x 8.2m 1,010 tonnes) went thump-thump-thumping past us, 

2,600 tonnes of coal in a push-towed pair
overtaking us slowly. A cruiser with a Brandenburg flag overtook us as loaded boat called Elbe went past at KP208. We went under the road bridge at Wolftor and found shade on the right hand bank and gratefully went closer to the bank to get full benefit for the next few kilometres. The cruiser went right up behind Beatrice before it overtook it, also keeping in the shade as long as possible. More coal went past. 2,600 tonnes in a push towed pair of 80m boats called Neidersachsen 1. It was followed by Alm from Haselt (Belgian!) 86m x 9m 1,600 tonnes. It was 3.50 pm when we moored in the corner of the big layby at the junction with the Salzgitter arm.

Sunday 21st July 2013 Haste KP137.5 to abv Anderten KP175 MLK. 37.2kms 1 lock.

Berliber tug and pan carrying a field winding
Hot and sunny. Afternoon temperature reached 37°C, too hot. Set off at 9.40 am picking a slot in a queue consisting of two commercials, two cruisers and another commercial, between the two cruisers. The rest of the queue all overtook us within minutes. Had trouble with all the slosh from passing traffic and the magnetic effect of the piling – the boat wouldn’t easily reverse away from the bank. It did when Mike spoke to it! 
Heavy traffic MLK

Took photos of an old Berliner tug pushing a pan containing an outer field winding (stator) from a power generating plant that looked as if it was going somewhere for repair, which overtook us at KP144. The canal winds its way through the city for the next 20kms or so. 

Continental tyre factoey in Hanover
It was sizzling hot eating lunch in the stern. Mike’s straw (paper) hat decide to go for a swim. It had been sitting peacefully on the roof since we set off, as he’d put the sunshade up, and a sudden gust of wind swept it overboard. Rather than swamp it trying to reverse to it Mike asked Oll on the radio if he could fish it out as he went past it, which he did. Snail then went past us to deposit the soggy hat and went on to find a spot for a brief doggy rest stop. 

Anderten lock's huge empty chamber, one of a pair. 
There were masses of Sunday afternoon cruisers about and the towpaths were thronged with cyclists and walkers, all gongoozling like mad and taking phone photos of the funny boats. A large Danish cruiser overtook us and turned left into the Misburg arm, where there was a large yacht haven belonging to the Hanoverscher Motorboot Club. 

Bottom end shaft lock guillotine gate
We pushed on to the locks. Yes, 175kms and this was the one and only lock up on to the summit. Called Hindenburgschleuse at Anderten, the twinned locks are each 220m long by 12m wide and lift boats 14.7m up to the summit level using several economiser pounds. The summit level is 61kms long and Sülfeld lock then drops boats down 9m to the last pound which finishes at KP325 where the new aqueduct takes boats over the river Elbe and a new lock takes boats down onto the Elbe-Havel kanal or another new lock takes boats down on to the Elbe (not sure if the ship lift at Rothensee still works). 

Keeper oversees both chamber from the
long dark building above the lock
No one else in sight, just a WSA boat moored between the two lock chambers, so we moored on the left in the area for spoort boots waiting for the lock and Mike called the lock keeper on VHF. Didn’t understand the answer, but we’ll wait until we get a green light. A German cruiser came and tied on the wall behind us. 

Buildings housing working mechanisms  of the lock.
Note original name of lock - Hindenburgschleuse
Both chambers emptied. Two 80m loaded boats came out of the right hand chamber and we got a green light as the keeper shouted over the tannoy system “spoort booten in der schleuse”, or something like that, and we followed the cruiser into the vast empty chamber. A trip boat came out of the left hand chamber as we went into the right. The cruiser went right up the front end of the empty chamber. 

Moored above Anderten and glad to stop. HOT
Note this photo was taken later when in shade
I took photos as we went in and more when the lock was full. The bollards set in the wall were the right distance apart for us to do fore and aft ropes. The incoming water blew our bows off the wall to start off with, temporarily, and then settled down to do the express lift – filling so fast that I only just had time to lift the ropes from one bollard to the next. There were crowds of gongoozlers behind railings on the lockside. Waved to the keeper, who must be somewhere in the smoked glass cabin above the lock chamber, as we left the lock. There was a mooring above the lock on the left (couldn’t have been on the right hand side in the shade) in full glare of the afternoon sun. It was a blistering 37.2°C at 4.20 pm

Saturday 20th July 2013 Nordholz KP108 to Haste KP137.5 MLK. 30.6kms 0 locks

Snail being overtaken and passed at KP124 MLK
Grey, overcast and chilly first thing. Sun came out around 11.30 am and it was hot again. Set off at 10.05 am and Mike soon asked for his fleece as it was cold. We’d got the Markon running to do some washing so the Snail had gone first and gradually lengthened the distance between us. The canal was very busy with commercials and cruisers and yachts. On our left were the low forested hills of the Schaumburger Wald and on our right was the forest covered Bückeberge. Between the canal and Bückeberge were many small villages and the towns of Bückeburg, Ober-Kirchen and Stadthagen, none of which we could see from the boat. 
Catamaran Eat Me
Once the washing was done we drifted while Mike took the drive plate out, choosing our time so there was a break in the passing traffic as it’s not a good idea to have no engine running when there are other boats to negotiate. Just after we set off again we were overtaken by a tug pushing an empty pan as we came to the first mooring after Norholz at KP123.5, a further 15.5kms and a couple of hours travelling which would have been a bit too much the day before. There was one large German yacht on the far end mooring (there were two small spaces for private boats, one at either end of a long section for commercials). Snail was about ten minutes in front of us and being overtaken by the tug and empty pan while another commercial was coming the other way. 
A mountain of salt. KP135 MLK 
All good fun. And in all this mayhem there was a grebe, fishing, and taking no notice of the boats. Took a photo of a large sea-going catamaran on the bank. It was called Eat Me and I wondered if its owner was referring to Lewis Carroll’s Alice in Wonderland, she drank from the bottle that said Drink Me and became smaller, then ate the cakes that said Eat Me and became bigger. It was 2.45 pm when we arrived at Haste where the Snails had just moored. The long quay was a communal mooring, no “Ausgenommen kleinefahrzeuge” (except small boats) on the mooring sign. 
Moored at Haste KP137.5 MLK
We winded and moored to the right hand bank with our side doors on the outside so we could open them easily. Snail also winded for the same reason. Within minutes a guy on a bike stopped to say hello (he had a Rowsy dog, smaller but still Labrador/German Shepherd mix) as he wanted to chat about visiting the UK with his camper, mainly Wales and Scotland.

Sunday, 21 July 2013

Friday 19th July 2013 Abv Petershagen lock to Nordholz KP108 MLK. 21.1kms 1 lock

Strange little boat on skis at Petershagen
Misty grey start, but the sun had burned the mist away by the time we set off at 9.05 am. A busy road ran alongside the left bank of the lock cut, a long one, it took us an hour to clear it. At the junction with the river there was a tent city of very well sun bleached tents and we wondered if it was a Scout camp. Saw no traffic moving except for a couple of speedboats, who overtook us slowly before speeding up to their maximum throttle settings. 
Hay collecting
At KP210 there was a motorised hay gatherer and a tractor pulling a trailer that the gatherer was filling with cut grass. In front, the channel was marked with red and green cones and the distant misty Weihengebirge hills were coming into view. Behind us the steam from the coal-fired power station at Lahde puffed out paper white clouds in a cornflower blue sky. Gulls seemed to occupy every post along the riverbank. Charon, a loaded 67m barge came past us blue-boarding, so we moved left to let him have the deepest water. 
Channel markers in the Weser below Minden
The river current was noticeably faster as we got closer to the lock (about 2.5kph) and where the river narrowed as it flowed through Minden. Mike called Minden controllers on VHF to ask to lock through the shaft lock (schachtschleuse) and was told to moor on the startzplatz für kleinefahrzeuge, the waiting area for small boats. We moored on the 3m high piled wall behind a Polish tug and pan, Rentrans Cargo 1 from Szczecin, which blocked the view of the lock. We could just see the lock lights down the side of the tug. Snail came alongside. 
In Minden Shaft lock
It was 11.25 am. Fahrgästschiffe (passenger boat) Helena and a small yacht came down the shaft lock, the yacht went on downriver but the passenger boat (with only half a dozen passengers on board) made a hard turn to his right to go upriver on the Weser. Mike said the passenger boats do a round tour, down the shaft lock and up the two modern locks. The lock lights remained on red. Mike went up the ladder to have a chat with the young Polish skipper of the tug moored in front. He wasn’t going up the lock he was waiting while the river level came up a bit as they were running water from a reservoir to top it up so he could get upriver to deliver a big paper filter roll to a power station. The filter paper weighed 138 tonnes and on it was printed “Projekt Leopard”. 
In Minden Shaft lock.
Bottom end guillotine gate
At 12.15 pm Minden called us on VHF to tell us to go into the lock. We think they said tie up on the right side. We followed Snail into the shaft lock and both stayed on the right hand wall. The spacing was OK for Snail to use for and aft ropes, we used our centre rope and the incoming water between the boat and the wall shoved us out into the middle. No big problem, we just loosed the rope off and let it do it, and then as the turbulence subsided we went back against the wall and put the rope back round a bollard. It did that several times as each economiser pound put water into the deep chamber. The Snails were OK with fore and aft, they didn’t get the same effect. We left the top at 12.50 pm. We carried on to the Mittelandkanal and turned right then winded to moor by the water tap in its box. Oll came alongside and we refilled our water tanks using Oll’s key. 
Minden Shaft lock full - on to the MLK
Set off again around 1.30 pm, noting that all the available mooring space for spoortbooten on the junction was occupied. We continued along the MLK, crossing the mighty Minden aqueduct over the Weser, passing Lyko 1 a loaded Polish boat from Szczecin, then an empty tanker called Tom Burmester (1600 tonnes) followed by a cruiser. 
Leaving Minden shaft lock.
Another cruiser went by as we went under Sperrtor V, the fifth set of floodgates on the canal, these were to protect the canal from the flooding of the little river Aue, 
Water tap on MLK at Minden
and to protect the little river should there be a serious problem with the canal aqueduct. 
Moored at KP108 MLK
At 2.35 pm we stopped at KP108 to moor at the end of another 1 kilometre long empty stretch of commercial moorings at Nordholz on a 25m long mooring for spoortbooten. 

Friday, 19 July 2013

Thursday 18th July 2013 Abv Landesbergen lock to abv Petershagen lock. 24.5kms 2 locks

Commercial below Schusselburg lock
Hot and sunny all day. Left the pontoon at 9.35 am heading upriver. Mike had attached the generator so we were restricted to 1300 revs 6.5kph through still water, but slowed down by the flow to about 5 kph. I made tea and buttered toasted currant buns and sat out with Mike to eat them at ten am, just as a loaded Belgian 85m boat called Diamond from Antwerp went past. Finished with the gennie conveniently for us to pause on the quay at Stolzenau while Mike took the plate out. When we arrived at Schüsselburg two cruisers that had overtaken us a couple of kilometres before were on the pontoon, leaving nowhere for us to moor and wait for the lock. We hovered. A loaded boat from Bremen called Andreas came down the lock just as an empty called Peeneland 1 went past us and into the lock. 
Waiting for cruisers to untie below Schusselburg
The cruisers were very slow to untie and get in the chamber behind the commercial, no wonder the skippers don’t like them much. We were beginning to think that they were staying there when they finally untied and went very slowly into the lock. They were both lining up for the left hand wall so Mike said to Oll to come alongside us (the Snail normally has the left hand wall at the back) and we went in on the right and had a rope round a bollard before they’d decided which ones to go for (the commercial was 67m long and had gone right to the front of the 223m long chamber, so they had plenty of room to play in) and Snail came alongside us before they’d got their ropes on bollards. As it happens the first cruiser went half way down the chamber and the smaller one stayed right at the back – so there would have been ample room for Snail on the left hand wall between them! We rose steadily up 4.5m, then we untied and went out first as the cruisers were both very slow at untying too. 
WSA workboat overtaking at KP228
Two more commercials were bearing down on the lock as we left, an empty called Otrate was first, the large cruiser overtook us as it went past, the smaller cruiser, sensibly stayed back behind Snail until the second commercial, a loaded Bremen boat called Anton went past. Another cruiser was following the two commercials downriver to the lock. 11 kms to the next lock. At KP229 we were overtaken by a WSA workboat with a digger on board and a cruiser went downstream at KP228 followed by a yet another commercial. I made some sandwiches for lunch which we ate before we got to the lock cut. We slowed down when we got into the lock cut, as there was no sign of Snail behind us. Tied on the pontoon below Petershagen lock. A commercial plus the WSA workboat and the two cruisers were going up in the lock. As Snail came into view Mike called Minden on the pontoon intercom. It was 2.40 pm. No idea what the answer was but Mike said “Danke”. Snail tied alongside us. Lüssen 14 and Bondar, Polish boats loaded with sand, came down the lock then the lights went to green and we went into the chamber, just us, and the lock filled very quickly – must be more traffic coming. Went in at 3.18 pm and came out of the top 6m higher at 3.30 pm – 12 minutes! There was one above to come down and one had just arrived below. We moored on the pontoon at 3.35 pm. Again, commercial traffic through the lock continued, busy until late evening.

Wednesday 17th July 2013 abv Drakenburg lock to abv Landesbergen lock. 24.6kms 1 lock

A cruiser heading downriver at speed
Hot and sunny. Lian, now loaded with sand again, went past us heading downriver again before we left. I downloaded yesterday’s photos before we set off at 10.15 am. I made a cuppa and then set to work to catch up with the photos and the log. Mike did time trials to check our speed. Two commercials went upriver passing two commercials coming downriver, all four were “Blue boarding”, ie wanting to take the “wrong” side of the river to pass on and they did this on a section of Z bends. We kept over on the right giving them plenty of room to pass each other. Mike called Minden on VHF and they said to follow the two empties in (Albatros and Rolf) that were already below Landesbergen lock. We tied to the pontoon and Snail came alongside. A few minutes later a three-decked cruiser came down and we followed the two commercials into the chamber. Not a lot of space left behind them, so we did fore and aft ropes up the wall. Gongoozlers on bikes were taking pictures from the road over the tail end of the lock. It was 3.55 pm when we moored on the pontoon above Landesbergen lock. Anne spoke to Minden via the intercom to ask permission to stay overnight and the guy said yes, OK. Berlemar-S from Brake, loaded with sand went past heading into the lock. The deck hand spoke English and said they were off down to Bremen again! (Mike said they’d overtaken us earlier in the day, so their sand loading quay wasn’t much further above Landesbergen, probably at Stolzenau)

Tuesday 16th July 2013 Verden to abv Drakenburg lock. 41.5 kms 2 locks

Tug Buffel waiting to swap pans for the dredging gang
Grey, misty, murky start; sunny and hot later, getting murky again in the late evening. It was only 15°C when we set off at nine but that was soon to change. Down the last four kilometres of the Aller and turned left to go upriver on the Weser. A small speedboat cruiser was heading uphill fairly slowly until it cleared the junction, then the steerer wound it up and soon disappeared from sight. The first commercial went past at KP 323.5 by the first road bridge, Wilka 80m long from Magdeburg, loaded with sand, followed shortly after by another loaded boat Lübbenau (80m). 
The dredger at Nedderhode
Upstream of the road bridge Liane (67m) was unloading sand and a WSA tug Büffel with an empty pan was waiting by a dredger in mid-river with the bows of the pan stuffed up the bank and prop turning to keep it there. We went past the dredger to its left on the left side of the river as it was taking sand out of the bend on the right hand side at KP 322.5, Neddernhode. More sand, Wesertrans (77m x 8.20m) came downstream. The sun was starting to burn off the mist just after ten. The flow wasn’t as bad as we expected, around 1.5kph, and the depth ranged between 4.5 to 6m. Next loaded boat, Jupiter (80 x 8.20m 1058 tonnes), went past on a left hand bend at KP320.5 and a container barge, Dione (84.75m x 9.50m 1,338 tonnes) about a kilometre later. 
Britta 85m long heading for an 85m long lock
with cruisers following 
Two kayaks loaded with camping gear were being paddled downriver by two men at KP317. Shortly afterwards a black kite flew over and landed in the field on our right. We arrived at Dörverden lock as an empty called Ambulant (68.5m) overtook us. He went into the empty chamber of the short lock (85m) as a tug and pan and two cruisers left the lock heading downriver. The small WSA pan and tug that was moored in Verden haven and left while we were there at 6.30 am the day before, was working on the building site that was the big lock chamber. We tied on the pontoon below the lock and Snail came alongside. About an hour later the cry went up, it’s our turn we’ve got a green light! 
Sheep sheltering from the sun under bridge 54
The bollards in the right hand wall were very old ones with bars attached to them, so I had to thread the rope through each one as the lock filled. No problem, it filled very slowly. As we left the lock we moved over to the left so that the loaded sand barge, Britta (85 x 9.20m, 1307 tonnes), had a straight run into the chamber. There were four cruisers following it, one had already tied up on the pontoon, but a large Dutch cruiser kept following, as did a large German cruiser behind him. No sooner the barge was in the lock than the gates started to close and the red lights came on. Sorry, no room, only 85m long and the boat filled that! There was a whole flock of sheep crammed in together in the shade under bridge 54 at Lohof. More sand went downriver at KP303.5 carried by a barge called Hildegard. 
Liane rushing upriver to get another load of sand
Took photos of a now empty Liane (67m x 7.11m 724 tonnes) rushing upriver to get another load of sand, overtaking Snail. A downstream barge hooted, the skipper had a big grin on his face, he waved madly. Mike hooted back and waved enthousiastically. Two storks were walking the edge of a field where the farmer had just been cutting grass. Two cruisers came downriver; the first one was trying to water the fields with his wash. The sand quay at KP290.5 was empty. The flow rate had increased a bit as we were down to 5.5kph. There was hardly a breeze, several wind generators were revolving so slowly you could barely see the movement. The red roofs of Schweringen came into view and there were cows grazing the flood defence banks. A couple were launching a speedboat just downstream of the ferry at Schweringen and, as there was no quay to tie to, the wife was standing in the river holding on to the boat while husband drove the car and trailer back up the ramp and young son (already in the boat) put his lifejacket on. The lady ferry operator at Schweringen waited until we’d passed before nipping across the river between us and Snail to pick up a guy on a motorbike from the other bank.
In Drakenburg lock with Theresia and a speedboat
Another speedboat was fast catching up with Snail. At KP285 there was another stork’s nest with young ones on top of an old chimney stack. The first speedboat went past with two young lads in it; we wobbled in the wash for a few minutes. Not long after that the one that had been launching came past, again we wobbled in its wash. Our speed had dropped to 5.3kph as we were approaching the lock cut so Mike wound it up a bit. He called Minden on VHF channel 61 and got a torrent of German back! Not a word did we understand. Mike said we didn’t understand and got another long sentence and guessed something was coming down. Liegeplatz? Liegeplatz, ja! The two lads with the speedboat (the other one must have gone up the long weirstream) were tied to the pontoon, they moved to the top end and I asked if they were waiting for the lock. Yes. Twenty minutes they’d been told. We tied front and middle to the pontoon and Snail came alongside. Soon after we arrived the lock emptied and loaded sand barge Lüssen 14 came down. The gates remained open with red lights on. Ha! Something coming to go up the lock, hope we can get in too. Loaded boat Theresia (67m x 8.20m, 849 tonnes) arrived and went in slowly, the lights changed to green and we went in following the speedboat. The lock filled slowly with the commercial right up the front, rising ropeless as most of them seem to do in these river locks. It was just 6 pm as we tied on to the pontoon. The kids in the speedboat continued upriver.

Monday, 15 July 2013

A bit more tourism. Photos of the historic town of Celle.

The Rathaus (town hall) wedding in process
Corner of the Rathaus
The town of Celle has strong links with Great Britain as the daughter of the last Duke to live there married George I and was grandmother to George II.
Half-timbered houses of Schuhstrasse

House in Kalandgasse

House in Kalandgasse


Former Latin school in Kalandgasse

More restored houses in Celle

St Mary's church in the Stechbahn

The court pharmacy in the Stechbahn,
former jousting area

Stechbahn, former jousting area,
the Schloss is just beyond the trees

Half-timbered house in Runderstrasse

The Bomann Museum facing  the Stechbahn

The Schloss, seat of the Dukes of Guelph 1378-1705,
foundations date to 1292 

Bomann Museum opposite the Schloss

Old houses and modern shop fronts
 in Zollnerstrasse

Old houses and modern shop fronts
 in Zollnerstrasse

Mike in front of the Rathaus

Old postbox by the Bomann Museum