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20th April, 2017

Sea day and Kiel Canal

After a comfortable passage from Dover to the entrance to the Elbe River, the Elbe Pilot boarded at 2300 on Thursday and we started our passage up river to the locks at the Southern end of the Kiel Canal in Brunsbuttel.

The Kiel Canal was finished in 1985 and is a 98KM (61 Miles) long canal through the German State of Schleswig-Holstein that links the North Sea at Brunsbuttel to the Baltic Sea at Kiel Holtenau.

Due to the age of the Canal there is always some refurbishment works being carried out and just before our arrival we were notified that one of the main locks at the Kiel-Holtenau end was closed for works and there may be some delays. However when we arrived there was no waiting traffic and Saga Sapphire was “locked”straight in and entered the Canal at approximately 0400 on Thursday morning. The weather was calm and our passage was going to be very pleasant.

Due to her size and draft Saga Sapphire requires a tug assist all the way through the canal. The canal has many passing places called “sidings”where large ships can safely pass and we had to stop a few times to wait for a ship transiting in the other direction. This is where the tug is really useful to steady the ship and hold position while waiting.

When the sun came up the temperature rapidly rose, and many of our passengers where outside enjoying the views over the surrounding countryside.

There are many small ferries that cross the canal linking roads on both sides. These ferries are free to use for foot and car passengers with the cost covered by the canal transit charge to ships.

The Saga Sapphire arrived at the Kiel locks at 1330 and we finally dropped the Pilot outside at 1530. We then started our passage up the Great Belt (Danish: Storebælt), which is the strait between the major islands of Zealand (Sjælland) and Funen (Fyn) in Denmark on our way to Copenhagen. Our itinerary has had to be changed slightly with the ports of Aalborg and Copenhagen swapping dates due to the forecast giving very strong winds in Aalborg for the Friday.

We passed under the Great Belt Bridge at around 2030. It could be seen clearly by all our passengers from the dining room while enjoying their Dinner.

Captain Richard Lambert

The opinions expressed are those of the author and are not held by Saga unless specifically stated.

The material is for general information only and does not constitute investment, tax, legal, medical or other form of advice. You should not rely on this information to make (or refrain from making) any decisions. Always obtain independent, professional advice for your own particular situation.