One of my forum friends is doing a delivery
, and wrote to me offline to ask what to expect from the Kiel Canal.
I thought I would post my answer in case anyone else needs the information.
The Kiel Canal is a doddle -- no CEVNI needed and locks only at the ends. You pay for the canal fee at the Kiel end while you're in the lock -- climb up the lock wall and go to the machine.
To get into a lock, you have to call up the lockkeeper on the appropriate radio
channel (they speak English) or just follow in the gang of sailboats always waiting.
You can motor
sail (with motoring cone displayed!) but you must not sail without the motor
on. You are not allowed to navigate at night without radar
and I would not do it even then because you will be hassled until you prove it.
There are no hazards -- the canal is very well dredged and marked. There are a few places to spend the night along the way if you don't make it through in one day, but it's only 53 miles (I think) from lock to lock, so easy to do in a day if you start reasonably early.
I found it extremely pleasant motoring along the canal after fighting headwinds in the Baltic
or North Sea.
Both Kiel and Cuxhaven are excellent staging/crew change points with good transport to Hamburg Airport
(Kiel by bus, Cuxhaven by train). Provisioning
crap in Kiel (unless you use a taxi) but excellent in Cuxhaven (Real hypermarket 10 minutes walk away). Kiel a very pleasant town to spend a few days resting or waiting for a weather
On the way out of the Elbe, stop off in Helgoland for cheap
booze (cheapest I've ever seen in Europe
; 9.95 euros for a litre of export strength Beefeater) and fuel
(1.06 a liter), then from there, if the wind
serves, between the two TSS roads to the UK -- Great Yarmouth is a good landfall. Beware the giant (!) windfarm off Borkum which is NOT marked on any charts
(even up to the minute updated Navionics
chip). Very hard to get water
in Helgoland, so water
up in Cuxhaven.
If the wind
doesn't serve to go straight across, you can go along the German and Dutch coasts, but pretty tedious with very, very little refuge, and possibly dangerous in strong onshore weather
. German islands have treacherous, shifting channels -- even the most up to date charts
won't help you. You lost
lots of miles going into Borkum. Norderney very pleasant but expensive and tricky channels to get in. First decent port is actually Den Helder in Holland
, quite a ways from from Cuxhaven. So I would stay offshore
, between the two TSS roads, or beyond them, unless the wind forces you otherwise.
Don't approach the TSS to less than a mile -- the Germans will slap you with a 1000 euro fine. Don't cross it without permission from the German coast guard or VTS.
Coming or going in the Elbe approaches you have to call the German radar
control -- channels are in Reed's Almanac -- and follow their instructions. The Germans run the estuary and approaches like an airport
with fully controlled airspace, as it were. Don't mess about with the Germans -- they don't tolerate yachts sailing here and there and interfering with traffic. They will call you, they will expect you to be reachable and to follow their instructions. Stay outside the channels or at the very edges of them and ask permission before crossing them. Keep your radio
on and tuned to the appropriate channel. It's best (as we discovered) to have someone on full radio/radar watch, fully concentrating on traffic and communicating with VTS and Radar Control, until you are well clear of the estuary.
Good luck and ask if you have any other questions.