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12th July, 2014


The new cruise began with a dash across the North Sea to the Elbe, then up river past Cuxhaven to Brunsbuettel, a small town with a fine name that just rolls off your tongue. Just as important, it’s the entrance to the Kiel Canal, our gateway to the Baltic. We made speedy progress (relatively speaking) through the western lock, along with a number of smaller vessels that also included a grand looking river cruiser.

The canal was a pleasant interlude on our journey to Stockholm, scenic for the passengers, somewhat busier for us of course, maintaining and monitoring the progress of this minor leviathan across the green countryside of Schleswig-Holstein. It is a journey of some sixty plus miles which took us ten hours to reach the locks at Holtenau near Kiel. We were not clear until six the following morning as there had been some delays as we waited in ‘sidings’ for other ships passing in the opposite direction. So we’re a few hours behind where I would have liked to have been by the time we commenced the second stage of this journey towards Stockholm.

The Baltic was just a little blustery, but without any rough seas to match we arrived around lunchtime at the pilot boarding position off the charming island of Sandhamn. This is found at the southern entrance to the archipelago. In warm sunshine we passed the rocks and little islands that make up this part of Sweden, passing small and not so small holiday homes. These homes had flags hoisted and these showed the national pennants of blue and yellow which indicated where owners were in residence, which I’ve always thought a great traditional idea. The downside however is that a house with no flag hoisted would surely be a welcome invitation to those whose activities were of a criminal nature.

We docked in time for some of our more active folk to take off and walk into the old town before dinner.

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