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Old 06-12-2014, 16:57   #1
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Baltic to Med via Canals - Doable?

Inspired by Dockhead's Baltic adventure, I'm hatching a cunning plan...
Spending a summer in the Baltic, then when the weather cools making my way to the Med via Europe's canal system.
Anyone know if this is doable?
My googling has been inconclusive. I know one can get to the Canal du Midi from France's west coast, but I can't find out if it's possible to get to the French canals from Germany's or The Netherlands' north coasts.
Also, maybe lock fees would mount up and prove prohibitive?
I know the mast has to come out, and draught must be under 5'.
Anyone done such a trip?
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Old 06-12-2014, 17:16   #2
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Re: Baltic to Med via canals; doable?

Well you can definitely join the system from the Rhine at Strausborg. And I'm pretty sure there is another connection a bit further up river. I've read there are however, issues if you don't have enough engine to motor against the current.

But you still have to get on to the Rhine from whereever you start.

So... no help here :-)
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Old 06-12-2014, 17:19   #3
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Re: Baltic to Med via canals; doable?

There is a route to the Black Sea that would be a challenge.

Danube–Black Sea Canal - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

The canal Du Midi is very shallow, we could just get through with a draft of 1.1m but much more is a no show.

Going up the Rhine will also be hard work as the current is against you and it does run fast.

The traditional route from Northern France to the med is a well trodden route with lots of website covering the route.

Some reading:

http://www.michaelbriant.com/french_canal_routes.htm

http://www.jimbsail.info/cruise-area/baltic

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Old 06-12-2014, 20:47   #4
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Re: Baltic to Med via canals; doable?

4 possible in water routes:
- Go around Portugal
- Canal du midi
- Thru the French canals: numerous alternatives but basically from the English channels straight south. You can connect via canals to the Netherlands and Germany.
- Up the Rhine to Frankfort to the Main River then to the Danube and come out at the Black Sea. Up the Rhine is a problem, but you can bypass using the French canals so you go downriver on the Rhine to Frankfort.


Depth, beam and airdraft vary depending on the route.


Canal and River Maps
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Old 06-12-2014, 21:58   #5
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Re: Baltic to Med via canals; doable?

Thanks, those links gave me some good reading.
The boat is a Contessa 26, 1.2m draft, air draft mast-down I'm not sure about.
I imagine the outboard on a bracket won't cut it against river currents, sadly.
Looking at the maps i could find, there doesn't appear to be a way of getting from the Baltic inland routes to the Canal du Midi. My winter-in-the-Med plan was to use a friend's slip at a little marina near the Med end of the Canal du Midi.
Hmmm, more ruminating...
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Old 07-12-2014, 02:09   #6
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Re: Baltic to Med via canals; doable?

This boat was planning a route that would probably suite you. There is no indication that they actually completed the trip as planned

J'Sea - Mediterranean Sailing Adventures - German French Canals - Marseille to Turkey 2014
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Old 07-12-2014, 09:46   #7
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Re: Baltic to Med via canals; doable?

The West Coast sailing rag: Latitude 38 has covered several boat passages thru the canals across Europe. You can find them online on the electronic Latitude 38. One critical issue is the current Schengen Zone limitation of 3 months. As Mark J mentions in the "Rules of the Road" section of CF, there is talk of extending this up to one year. If that happens a trans continent passage should be much more enjoyable.
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Old 07-12-2014, 09:48   #8
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Re: Baltic to Med via canals; doable?

I had watched a TV show about making that passage. Wish I had a link. As I recall he was doing in an ultralight boat of minimum draft.


I understand the Vikings did before canals it just prepare to portage.
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Old 07-12-2014, 10:03   #9
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Re: Baltic to Med via canals; doable?

The shortest way to the Med from the Baltic is via St. Petersburg, the Russian river system, Volga-Don Canal, Sea of Azov, Black Sea, and Bosphorous -- would be a stupendous adventure.

AFAIK, it has recently been legalized for the first time without special permission. It's a bit of a hassle, and you need a Russian-speaking pilot on board, but it would be the adventure of a lifetime. Unbelievable things on the way -- Kizhi, Yaroslavl, Kostroma, Uglich', etc., etc., etc., etc.

Here's someone who did it: Exploring Russia's Inland Waterways: Norway to the Med via the Volga River 2013 — Noonsite
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Old 07-12-2014, 10:22   #10
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Re: Baltic to Med via canals; doable?

The route North-South to the Mediterranean through The Netherlands:

This route passes the following Canals and Rivers:

La Meuze
Canal de l'Est (Branche Nord)
Canal de l'Est (Branche Sud)
La Petit Saône, Corre - Auxonne
La Saône
Le Rhône

On this route you will pass 225 locks!

You will need the following Maps and Pilots:

Navicarte Voies Navigables 9 - Canal de 'Est (from Maastricht to Corre)
Navicarte Voies Navigables 10 - La Saône et la Seille (from Corre to Lyon)
Navicarte Voies Navigables 16 - Le Rhône (from Lyon to the Mediterranean)
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Old 07-12-2014, 10:24   #11
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Re: Baltic to Med via canals; doable?

Your draft will alter in freshwater from your marks in saltwater but you might get away with going up the River Rance at St Malo, down through the canal to Arzal, across Biscay close inshore to Bordeaux and then down the Midi.

This would be a very pleasant trip during the summer, though french bread, cheese and wine might affect your waistline.

France: Navicarte/Fluviacarte Guides to French Canals and Waterways - Canal & Inland Waterways - Paris - Cities - Stanfords Website
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Old 07-12-2014, 13:41   #12
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Re: Baltic to Med via Canals - Doable?

I am delighted to see someone else planning an adventure similar to mine a few years back. I sailed from the North-West of England (Lancaster), down the Irish Sea, up the English Channel to Dover and then across and into the Rhein, motored up the Rhein, across the Main and Main-Danube Canal, down the Danube into the Black Sea and over to the Aegean, to the bottom of Turkey (Marmaris).

My boat was a Westerly Centaur with shallow bilge keels -- 1 m draft, and a very good Beta Diesel, which was decisive, as the Rhein at some points has a brutal current. People had advised me to opt for the French canal system, as they didn't think I would be able to make it up the Rhein against the current. But stubbornness and a good, tough engine conquered the Rhein. The freighters however often almost ran me down.

The locks are free.

It was a marvelous trip. I have written a book about it with all the details, but could only have it published/printed privately. But I'd be happy to tell much more, including about the Stalinist-style bureaucracy and obsessive police control in Bulgaria. All under the gaze of the icon of St Nicholas (whose feast was yesterday!)

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Old 07-12-2014, 18:48   #13
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Re: Baltic to Med via Canals - Doable?

This map looks promising:


The little blue line linking Briare with Nantes has "La Loire" written on it, that's the Loire river, right? Anyone know if it's navigable?

Earnest, thanks a bunch for your post and I'd love to read your book. Recently i learned that i can email documents to my kindle's dedicated email address and the device will convert them to a kindle-compatible readable format. Might you be willing to let me have a PDF of your tome?

I love Centaurs, and if there was a junk-rigged one for sale in the UK at the moment, I'd be very interested.
I arrive in the UK in late Jan 2015 and top of the shopping list is a junk-rigged Contessa 26, that, barring something heinous, i will buy upon inspection. She's owned by a fellow member of the Junk Rig Association (JRA).

And with Centaurs and Contessas in mind:
“In matters of grave importance, style, not sincerity is the vital thing.”
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Old 07-12-2014, 19:11   #14
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Re: Baltic to Med via Canals - Doable?

Hi, Norman,

I'll see what I can do about transmitting that text to you.

I've never seen a junk-rigged Contessa. My Centaur was a ketch -- also rare, but there are lots of Centaurs in the UK. Normally sloops. But they are of shallower draft than the Contessa (I think), and some of the marinas and spots on canals and rivers are extremely shallow.

I'm sure there are a number of navigable systems through France. Lots of people have gone that way.

Have fun reading, researching, planning!

Ernest
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Old 07-12-2014, 19:47   #15
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Re: Baltic to Med via canals; doable?

Quote:
Originally Posted by hoppy View Post
This boat was planning a route that would probably suit you. There is no indication that they actually completed the trip as planned.

J'Sea - Mediterranean Sailing Adventures - German French Canals - Marseille to Turkey 2014
That link gave this itinerary:

Depart - Oranienburg Germany - May 06 th - 50 miles
Arrive - Brandenburg Germany - May 10 th

Depart - Brandenburg Germany - May 12th - 40 miles
Arrive - Wolmirstedt Germany - may 14th

Depart - Wolmirstedt Germany - May 17 th - 55 miles
Arrive - Braunschweig Germany -May 21 St

Depart - Braunschweig Germany - May 26th - - 90 miles
Arrive - Osnabruck Germany - June 01st

Depart - Osnabruck Germany - June 02 - 110 miles
Arrive - Munster Germany - June 04

Depart - Munster Germany - June 09th - 55 miles
Arrive - Duisburg Germany - June 11 th

Depart - Duisburg Germany - June 13 th - 45 miles
Arrive - Koln Germany - June 15 th

Depart - Koln Germany - June 17th - 55 miles
Arrive - Koblenz Germany - June 19th

Depart - Koblenz Germany - June 22nd - 65 miles
Arrive - Trier Germany - June 24th

Depart - Trier Germany - June 25th - 55 miles
Arrive - Metz FRANCE - June 28th

Depart - Metz France - June 30 th - 40 miles
Arrive - Nancy France - July 02 ND

Depart - Nancy France - July 03rd - 50 miles
Arrive - Epinal France - July 05th

Depart - Epinal France - July 05 th - 50 miles
Arrive - Dampierre France - July 07th

Depart - Dampierre France - July 07 th - 75 miles
Arrive - Chalon France - July 10th

Depart - Chalon France - July 11 th - 75 miles
Arrive - Lyon France -July14th

Depart - Lyon France - July 14th - 75 miles
Arrive - Valence France - July 16th

Depart - Valence France - July 17th - 45 miles
Arrive - Pierrelatte France - July 19th

Depart - Pierelatte France - July 20th - 45 miles
Arrive - Avignon France July 22nd

Depart - Avignon France - July 23rd - 50 miles
Arrive - Port St.Louis France - July 26nd

Depart - Port St. Louis France - July 30th - 35 miles
Arrive - Marseille France - July 31st


Which makes it look doable to get from Poland to Marseille via canals, without venturing into the Channel or Biscay.
As you say, there's no mention of whether or not the trip was started.
The above itinerary would be 90 days and 1,135 miles. Cool!
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