30th April, 2019
It has been a long night with our overnight transit through the Kiel Canal, although extremely peaceful and eerily tranquil, this is how the past 36 hours have played out.
The story of yesterday. We picked up our Elbe Pilot, at the entrance to the Elbe river as scheduled at 1430. With the Pilot embarked we made our way to Brunsbuttel, the western end of the Kiel-Canal. It is here we enter the locks.
As we approached the news trickled through from the Lock operators that there was a delay. There often is a delay at this end, but this delay was thirty minutes, then another thirty minutes and so on. Fortunately I had the foresight to order a tug to hold us in the river, so with the tug and the ship’s Bow Thruster we could hold station.
Eventually at 1900, after three hours of waiting, we entered the southern lock. Locked in, we had another hour to wait, firstly for the lock water level to be adjusted but also for the west bound traffic to clear into the northern lock. Shortly after 2000, the lock gate opened and we emerged into the Kiel-Canal.
The Passage, Brunsbuttel to Holtenau, had a scheduled time of 8.5 hours, making it a 0430 entrance into the Holtenau locks at the eastern end.
I handed the ’charge’ over to my Staff Captain, who had rested in the afternoon and would take the ship though to 0100. I hit the ‘hay’ fast – it wasn’t long before my 0030 call for the second half of the passage.
My day today started with a 0030 call and what a fabulous morning. Essentially it was still ‘night-time’ but the skies were star-lit and the horizon had a gentle daylight hue. Not a bad time to be bright-eyed and bushy-tailed. We had made good time overnight and the schedule for a 0430 time at the Holtenau lock still stood.
I glanced up from the bridge wing as I drove into the southern lock and was surprised to see Guests up and about. The eastern horizon was quite spectacular pre- sunrise. So, whilst we had transited at night, the early evening arrival into Brunsbuttel and almost day-light conditions at Holtenau, the Guests did have the opportunity to watch the manoeuvres.
Out of the lock 45 minutes later at 0600, we on our way northward towards the ‘Kiel’ Pilot station where we disembarked the Pilot at 0730 in glass calm waters and blue skies. Was this a good sign of things to come?
My morning was filled with ‘driving’ my desk, followed by a lovely afternoon cat-nap to catch up with sleep.
Having had an enjoyable Captain’s table this evening with very entertaining Guests, it’s now time for bed.
Captain Stuart Horne
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