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Old 15-12-2015, 12:01   #1
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Black Sea to North Sea: is it doable?

Hello Euro experts
Do you know of anyone who has done the trip from the Black Sea to the North Sea (not the other way around) on a sailboat that can only do 8 knots under power? I am concerned about the current near Bratislava...

Thanks

Charlie
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Old 15-12-2015, 17:02   #2
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Re: Black Sea to North Sea: is it doable?

That's a very interesting question.

There's a lovely little book called "The Voyage of Jack de Crow" by MacKinnon about going the other way.

My guess is that distance-wise it would be convenient for you to go against the flows of the river sections.

We'll await the responses of the experts. (Sorry to confess, I think "go with the flow" is germane to this discussion.)

Ann
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Old 15-12-2015, 21:38   #3
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Re: Black Sea to North Sea: is it doable?

Having done a little research on it, it's going to be a long hard slog. Big question is what is your range?

I'm not sure about the distance between fuel stops but to make any decent headway, you are likely going to be going flat out and still only make 2-3kts over ground where the current is fast. That could burn thru fuel pretty quickly.

Probably doable but there is a reason most of the people I've come across have done it in the opposite direction.
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Old 16-12-2015, 02:45   #4
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Re: Black Sea to North Sea: is it doable?

I can only comment on the 2nd part of your planned trip:
Danube, Altmuhl, Danube-Main canal, Main, Rhine and in Holland take your pick of a river, they all end up in the North Sea eventually.

I have have done it, from Austria to Holland, in a October-November period, in a kayak, not a problem as most of it downhill:

If you were to go the other way, the most difficult section, meaning strong current, is Koblenz to Bingham on the Rhine.

I have seen several yachts (4 or 5), going either way, and in sections with strong current, some got a tow from a freighter.
I would certainly do that trip again, or all the way to the Black Sea, but in the section I did, there are hundreds of good places to anchor, some jetties, a few yachtlcubs, mainly catering for powerboats. The castles on the hills, the ringing of the church bells, the trees lining the shores, the old pretty towns and villages: all add to the flavour of such trip.

Draft can be an issue for finding good overnight spots. Count the locks! they will slow your progress and be a potential danger for damage.

For info on river 'sailing' in Europe see here (relating to the section your query was about): Slowakia | european-waterways.eu: Description of waters, Facilities, Travel Information
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Old 16-12-2015, 09:30   #5
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Re: Black Sea to North Sea: is it doable?

What about shipping it with and Euro-Lighter from sulina to Rhine?
may not be that expensive as there is not much freight upwards...
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Old 16-12-2015, 09:35   #6
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Re: Black Sea to North Sea: is it doable?

Didn't Tristan Jones write a book about his downhill trip? I would think going uphill would be nigh on impossible.
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Old 16-12-2015, 10:42   #7
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Re: Black Sea to North Sea: is it doable?

There are several books about this route, none of them are from the Black Sea to the North Sea.

Tristan Jones' "The Improbable Voyage" ISBN 1-574090623 and Negley Farson's "Sailing Across Europe" ISBN 9781152772670 are two relevant books, but both are about voyaging from the North Sea to the Black Sea.

In my experience, it is easy enough to get a tow from a river freighter. Skylark was towed from Tiel, NL to Cologne, Germany in 23 hours. Cost me 400 plus a case of beer. I figure that I saved over two days of motoring against the current and several hundred euros in fuel cost.

I would get a tow past the difficult points on the Danube and up to the King Ludwig Canal in Germany. From there, it's all downhill.

Of course, one has to be sure that the fittings on the foredeck can take a tow.
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Old 16-12-2015, 11:11   #8
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Re: Black Sea to North Sea: is it doable?

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Originally Posted by George DuBose View Post
In my experience, it is easy enough to get a tow from a river freighter. Skylark was towed from Tiel, NL to Cologne, Germany in 23 hours. Cost me 400 plus a case of beer. I figure that I saved over two days of motoring against the current and several hundred euros in fuel cost.

I would get a tow past the difficult points on the Danube and up to the King Ludwig Canal in Germany. From there, it's all downhill.

Of course, one has to be sure that the fittings on the foredeck can take a tow.
Many thanks! I had not thought about that option, which requiires various lines of research..

Thanks again.
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Old 16-12-2015, 11:34   #9
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Re: Black Sea to North Sea: is it doable?

"Many thanks! I had not thought about that option, which requiires various lines of research.."

Just have two long lines 50 meters or more, of substantial strength, say 3/4 three strand nylon. The towing bridle needs to have a little stretch.

Make a sign "Need tow to..." Say the King Ludwig Canal.

You need to have two black triangles hanging from your stern but visible to other ships. Means you are being towed. Have a 360 light for the stern as well.

Depending on the size of your vessel, you want to stay well behind the towing ship to avoid their prop wash. I was too close to the towing ship in my trip and it was like being in a washing machine for 23 hours.

Oh, one important thing...your mast must be down to go under many of the bridges on the Rhine. Not sure about the Danube/Donau...
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Old 16-12-2015, 11:35   #10
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Re: Black Sea to North Sea: is it doable?

...and Tristan's great read "The Improbable Voyage" was about being towed UP the Rhine. It is worth reading just for the tips he gives.

...like removing your flag at night so the local souvenir collectors don't make off with it.
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Old 16-12-2015, 11:38   #11
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Re: Black Sea to North Sea: is it doable?

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Originally Posted by George DuBose View Post
Just have two long lines 50 meters or more, of substantial strength, say 3/4 three strand nylon. The towing bridle needs to have a little stretch.

Make a sign "Need tow to..." Say the King Ludwig Canal.
Many thanks! Can you please give me an idea of what sort of speed over water do these lighters reach?
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Old 16-12-2015, 11:50   #12
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Re: Black Sea to North Sea: is it doable?

Guarantee, not possible . Middle part, through Romanien Karpats current can be up to 20km / h. Ships are pulled through by train.
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Old 16-12-2015, 12:09   #13
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Re: Black Sea to North Sea: is it doable?

Many thanks! Can you please give me an idea of what sort of speed over water do these lighters reach?

Up the Rhine from The Netherlands, we never went over 9 knots through the water. Skylark can sail that fast. My concern was would my bow cleats and chocks hold up, but I had installed them with beefy backups. No problems...

There are several places on this route where boats are towed by a moving chain upstream. I know there used to be one in the Mainz River.

Google or check Facebook for RoscoeSailor. He is a Rhine captain with years of experience and he might be able to put you together with a captain on the Danube.

One should also be familiar with the rules of navigation and the signage on these European rivers.
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Old 16-12-2015, 22:57   #14
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Re: Black Sea to North Sea: is it doable?

I read a book last year were a fellow rowed and sailed a Mirror dinghy from England to the Black Sea. The North Sea would be a cinch from England I suspect.
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