After two days on the Kiel Canal, including an overnight stop at Gieselau, I finally made the huge lock at Holtenau and eased into the Baltic Sea.
This has been an incredibly draining few days and as I relax at the Royal British Kiel Yacht Club, the shattering weariness has put me on my back as the adrenalin ebbs away.
Tomorrow these very kind folk are going to dive beneath ‘Free’, for no charge, in an attempt to put my mind at ease. A check of the propeller and shaft will inspire me with the confidence to continue my voyage east past the old East German Hanseatic ports and into Poland.
The Kiel Canal is over one hundred kilometres long and is incredibly tedious and hard work, especially for a single-hander as you have no one to share the helm with. Mile after mile, with an eye constantly open on the fast commercial and military ships that creep up on you, seemingly out of nowhere.
There is nothing more exhausting than straining your hearing for sounds that may indicate mechanical problems. Every thirty minutes I was checking the engine room for any indication of gearbox and stern gland overheating, but thankfully everything held together.
I was very moved when reading the good wishes from you all this morning. The folk here let me use their internet and I am relieved to give you the good news, hoping that the dawn doesn’t bring anything untoward. A beautiful blue sky greeted me as I awoke, hardly able to believe that I have finally reached the Baltic Sea.
The future is an open book, as usual. Who knows what lies around the next headland? We can only live our lives, hoping for a break now and then, when the chips are down. This crazy sailing life has put me in all sorts of perilous situations over the years, but conversely a deep understanding of the human soul and what it can endure.
My friend Christian sent a wonderful poem by Longfellow to me, and it highlights what I am about. I will let it speak to you:
As I gaze upon the sea!
All the old romantic legends,
All my dreams, come back to me.
And the heart of the great ocean
Sends a thrilling pulse through me.