The journey began 1st Sept. 4.00 p.m. that’s when we left Gdansk. In the Baltic Sea within about 30 mins. Spent our first night in Hel ! (Thats the port of Hel) The next day we had patches of heavy (for us) swells and we were dashing back and forward to the kitchen to keep things in place. We had jammed thick plastic wrap into the drawers etc...........it worked some of the time! Next two days were very calm. Engine cut out on day 3 in the Baltic. No real problem, to do with balancing the fuel tanks. Thankfully it was a calm day and we didn’t even drift (or so it appeared) Jan our pilot had to get the air out of the system though and that takes time.
We left the Baltic Sea on 4th Sept. early afternoon into Swinoujscie. The water was like glass that evening and the sky was filled with squadrons of birds, in constantly changing formations as far as the eye could see, east and west. Quite a spectacle to watch. We entered the inland waterway system the next day and went through our first lock at 16.25 it was 170 metres long. Jan said it would take 13 narrowboats. A couple of hours later we arrived at the Niederfinow boat lift. That lifted us, and two very large commercial barges 36 metres into the air. It is one of the biggest lifts in Europe and can take vessels upto 30 metres in length. (our barge is 19.7 metres)
Arrived in the area of Berlin, Tues. 6th in the evening. I say Berlin, but we didn’t actually get to see any of it – the centre of it I mean ! We moored up in the Spandau area and the next day we pulled out our bicycles for the first time and went shopping. That was fun. Found a great Turkish supermarket with fantastic bread, fresh cheeses, honey on the comb and huge meat counter – lots of lamb and different types of liver (besides the normal stuff!) . Also went to a rather smart looking German, small, specialist supermarket. It was nice to find lots of food variety. You wouldn’t believe how many different types of sausage the Polish shops/supermarkets have. A vast selection, but couldn’t find Chorizo sausage ! Mark and Jan also took the bikes to OBI (German B+Q) and went shopping for diesel and spanners. Victor got his oil changed later!
Friday the 9th we went through the deepest lock to date. We moved up 14 mooring points. That was a depth of 18 metres. You normally have to untie and retie your boat to the appropriate mooring point as your vessel moves up or down, but this was a hydraulic system. There’s an even deeper lock on the canal to Hamburg – 24 metres. Later that day we passed by the VW factory at Wolfsberg. It’s big ! very fancy modern office building too with canal views. Has a huge TV type screen on the front of it – looked like it was showing animated cartoon figures. On the other side of
the building there were lots of rowers in their long thin rowing boats in a harbour area complete with a stone step viewing area. It was pretty well filled with people, must have been a special event. Later that night we entered our last lock of the day. Our engine cut out. No fuel. Fuel gauge said almost 1/4 full !!!! Luckily, we were the only vessel in the lock and it was late, and traffic wise it was quiet. Unluckily we were moored right at the back of the lock. Jan got on the radio ! Jan and Mark had to haul the barge out of the lock. I have a photo ! One of the lock keepers helped us out with a little fuel.
Next morning we made it to a small marina. Mark borrowed a 30 litre can, I used our 20 litres can. On our bikes again to the nearest petrol station. We needed more. This time someone at the marina took Mark by car. Petrol stations on the canal system in Germany are pretty thin on the ground! The next canal fuel point was at least 9 hours away in the Hanover area.
So we made it to the petrol station. Took on 412 litres. 652 Euro’s. The guy wouldn’t take credit or debit cards. We ended up 2 Euro’s short ! Another trip by car for Mark to the bank. The guy who sold us the petrol took him ! We moored up shortly after. Very close to the tram line. Last night we took the tram into the centre of Hanover for an hour or so. We had our first icecream since leaving the U.K and also had a drink in a German bar. We haven’t had much time for that sort of thing