Sailor, marine author and media director for the Speed Dream monohull speed record effort, Brian Hancock is currently delivering a sailing catamaran from Britain to Finland. To cut down on sailing time and get into Baltic faster, he just took the boat through the Kiel Canal in Germany. Here are his observations:
It’s been 30 years since I last transited the Kiel Canal and this time was precisely as I remember it. Locks at each end run with German precision and touch of gruffness on the part of the lock keepers. Heaven forbid you didn’t see the light change.
The Kiel canal can rightfully claim the most number of different nationalities concentrated in a small area. There are ships and sailboats from the far flung parts of the planet. In fact, they from places even I had never heard of – all sailing in precise lanes at precise speeds.
There are more swans (the feathered kind) than I have seen anywhere else in the world.
The countryside is peaceful, pastoral and rolling. Very pleasant.
It’s interesting to observe human nature. Every single person on a boat waves back. One out of ten that you pass on land, either fishing, walking, picnicking or riding their bikes, waves back. I wonder what that says about sailors.
The locks themselves don’t rise and fall very much – seems to me they should just leave the gates open and drain the Baltic.
All canals make life easier – it’s a long way around Denmark to get into the Baltic. It’s worth every penny of the $20 transit fee.