25 June 2012 – Laboe, Kielder Forde
Yesterday it just rained, and rained – and rained. From time to time the heavens opened, with a drenching drownpour; and occasionally (very occasionally!) a watery sun tried to break through the drizzle. As I write this morning, on the saloon table with the hatch almost closed and the heater on, the rain is driving in as far as the middle of the lower saloon bench.
Sad farewells in Rendsburg to both neighbours. The weather forecast was such that both decided not to move. Helmut in particular was determined to stay: because Marianna is epileptic and needs a new hip, he will need to be cautious about what he does.
The trip down the remaining third of the canal was straightforward. At the entrance to the Flemhuder See (c85km,) there was some sort of incident – all the shipping stopped, with 6 boats (3 in each direction) stationary. The west-going ships were led by the Dutch navy (F68) who appeared to be trying to manoeuvre into the siding to moor. Many of the dolphins that line the sidings are made of soft wood and are falling into major disrepair; but these ones were metal posts with what looked like rubber casings as a fender. We have had an email from Chris Darch remembering his transit of the canal in the 70s, when the banks were bristling with missile sites. Not so now! (Or not visibly.) Tranquil tree-lined banks, with the odd industrial complex. The cold war might never have been….
At the Holtenau Lock, the small boat lock was not in operation, and after a lot of milling about we were directed into the big lock, beside the three cargo boats that had overtaken us. The jetties in the lock are on the water level; so almost awash, and made of softwood, with a strip of anti-slip matting. The boat’s freeboard means that you have to be bold jumping off (and hope that you land on the matting without slipping over) and a gymnast to get back aboard. All this in the pouring rain, trying to stop the boat going forward into the small boat in front! The boat that followed us in was kind enough to indicate where to go to pay lock dues: up the ladder in the side of the lock; over the lock gate, and into the office between the 2 docks. I was last in the queue. The young man asked the length of the boat – no other details. Not the boat name, not the port of registry, not my name. I understand why the advice is to be conservative in your estimate of boat size. I was honest, and the cost was 35 euros. (Helmut, with a nominal 32 foot boat, said the cost was 18 euros.) I asked the young man if he knew why the small lock was not operational, and he replied in perfect English “I have absolutely no idea.” He just takes the money! My oilies were leaking by this stage and the purse and all the money were soaking wet, despite being in my pocket.
The weather did not show the Kiel Fjorde to advantage. Visibility was right down, and it was pitching down with rain. There were tall ships of all shapes and sizes, some of which were trying to get back west through the canal. Laboe is at the mouth of the fjord, on the eastern shore. There are two harbours – the older one with mainly box moorings, and the modern ones (the Baltic haven) with finger berths. We moored on the wave break whilst I went to see the harbour master – office closed. A small boat came alongside without an engine. The swell caused him to rock violently against us. With the bad weather due, it was not a good berth. Roger identified a box mooring which was big enough – not ideal as it’s downwind berth, and the manoeuvring is very tight. We came in with aplomb – Roger did very well and was proud of himself! (What I didn’t identify was the distance between the two rows of moorings; it was only 2m longer than the overall length of the boat! We had to turn around and then get into the box mooring – all very challenging with a sidewind.)
The cost of the mooring is 57 euros for 2 days including electricity and wifi (connection proving difficult!) On top there is a 20 euro deposit (pfand) for the facilities, which are closed between 11.30 and 1.30 for cleaning.
Further info and maybe pictures from Laboe later – it’s starting to look brighter and there is tourist info to be digested! Roger is also promising a technical update for the geek fraternity on matters of concern and interest…