You are currently viewing The Kiel Canal

The Kiel Canal

  • Post author:
  • Post category:Our Blog

So… This was our first time sailing through a canal and “something” called a lock. I felt a bit nervous and watched a few YouTube videos to get ready…

It’s was nice morning with a little breeze. We cruised slowly from the harbor to the entrance of the Kiel canal. There were so many big commercial ships around the Kiel so we had to wait for a few hours. Chris was bored so he put the sail up and sailed around while we waited to get in. We saw these beautiful tall ships while waiting…

Finally the light turned green for us and we slowly motored into the first lock. I put all the fenders down and low (as instructed on YouTube) getting ready to park inside the lock. It turn out to be not so difficult once we had done it. After going out of the lock, we docked again to pay and then continued on. We had a 3 full day ticket to cruise in the canal.

The canal was really beautiful with fields and animals on both sides. It was such a nice calm sunny day to cruise along the canal. We had seen countryside and industrial view taking turn along the canal bank. It’s amazing how different the view changes every a few kilometers. There were of course many beautiful big ships too. I felt like Polaris was such a little baby comparing to them.

After a few hours, we stopped in a marina for some German sausages and diesel…

When the sun was setting, we found a nice and quiet stop in the Kiel to stay for the night… Unfortunately, we moored on the wrong side and had to move due to a strong wake from the commercial ships still using the Kiel during the night.

The next day, we continued to cruise west on the canal. The wind was a bit stronger on that day and it was quite cloudy. We made it to the other end of the Kiel and tied up while waiting for the lock to open for us. We were very lucky as we met many other sailors there also waiting for the lock and heading to Cuxhaven. We were very happy as we had so many other boats to follow.

The lock opened and we made it through the Kiel. Sailing time started. We pulled the sails out and were on our way. The sailing was really fast with the currents carrying us along and about 20 knots of wind. We did about 6-8knots.

Later the wind changed its direction and picked up more, so we had to make big tacks (as Polaris couldn’t go close to the wind). The waves also got bigger and bigger, plus there was several large wakes from the big ships which made the sail even bumpier. We had full sails out (as we still didn’t know how to reef) and were flying at 8-10knots with about 30-40 degree heel. This was the fastest we had ever sailed on Polaris.

But…we had gone too fast and missed Cuxhaven marina by about 300 meters. I remember there was a super fast ferry and a huge container ship that past very close to us causing huge wakes. We were really panicked and worried that we couldn’t turn around due to all these waves and currents. But we decided to try our best and turn around. Polaris barely moved at 0.5knots with full speed on the throttle. We could only pray and hope, otherwise, we had to keep going with the currents. Luckily the strong waves were coming from behind us and helped us go against the current. After 10-15 minutes, we made it into the marina. We were both so happy and relieved. We “reunited” with the other sailors. They told us that we had too much sail out and we should have reefed it, and we should have timed the arrival better with the strong currents. I had to admit that it was our most exciting and scary sailing experience, “welcome to the northern sea”.

We paid the harbor fee, took a nice hot shower, and treated ourselves to two huge burgers. I got myself a German beer and it was so good.

We planned to continue our trip the next day but after that first “meeting” with the northern sea, we decided to stay for another night to study more about tides and currents. Luckily there were lots of other boats around so we asked for more advice from other sailors and the harbor master about our sailing plan.