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Old 08-09-2014, 02:23   #1
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Kiel Canal

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 AIS 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 window.

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.

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Old 08-09-2014, 02:30   #2
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Re: Kiel Canal

I went through the Kiel back in 1986 on the USS Barnstable County. I never saw so many jellyfish. There were a couple of sailboats behind us the entire transit.

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Old 08-09-2014, 07:04   #3
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Re: Kiel Canal

Super report thank you Ole
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Old 08-09-2014, 07:41   #4
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pirate Re: Kiel Canal

Nice one Dockhead..

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Old 11-09-2014, 05:21   #5
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Re: Kiel Canal

Don't forget to stop at the British Kiel Yacht Club. It's about a mile or so north of the Holtenau locks. Despite it's name it is really an adventurous training establishment for the British Army. Very hospitable to visiting yachtsmen.

One of their boats, Flamingo, was a war prize. There are photos of her in the bar being sailed by Hermann Goring and Adolf Hitler. Oh, and the beer's cheap too. The BKYC is due to close soon, so don't miss it.
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Old 15-09-2014, 03:22   #6
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Re: Kiel Canal

Thanks so much Dockhead.
This is in the plan for this coming spring.

Sent from my SCH-I605 using Cruisers Sailing Forum mobile app
Richard on M/Y Dauntless
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Old 15-09-2014, 03:31   #7
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Re: Kiel Canal

anyone planning to come into the Baltic next year - I can mail a booklet "usefu Informations" about sailing in the baltic.

I helped compile it - it contains links to harbour pilots (free) in most countries, contact addresses etc.

PM me

I must go down to the seas again, to the lonely sea and the sky,
And all I ask is a tall ship and a star to steer her by
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Old 15-09-2014, 04:22   #8
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Re: Kiel Canal

... here is some further information at a glace:

You are not allowed to navigate at night without radar and AIS
Pleasure boats are not allowed to navigate at night at all!

Provisioning crap in Kiel (unless you use a taxi)
Agreed but easy enough in some of the ports around Kiel bay (e.g. Laboe ;-))

Another hassle might be waiting times. The locks are very old and often the one or another is inoperational. To the time being only one of the big locks is working at the Kiel end (and not the older smaller locks on the north side normally used for pleasure crafts) so you will be locking with the 'big ones'.


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Old 15-09-2014, 04:44   #9
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Re: Kiel Canal

I wouldn't recommend Great Yarmouth. It's very commercial and the approach tricky. Better UK landfalls are Lowestoft or Harwich Haven.
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Old 22-09-2014, 09:05   #10
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Re: Kiel Canal

Well, provisioning in Kiel could be a problem..but there are 9 (nine) small marinas around and often a supermarket is nearby.
Unsere Sporthäfen
At Brunsbuettel lock is a small harbor, with supermarket only few minutes walk away.

regards Tellus

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