The Mighty Kiel Canal…

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.

The Baltic Sea lies on the other side of the lock at Holtenau, the end of the Kiel Canal.

The Baltic Sea lies on the other side of the lock at Holtenau, the end of the Kiel Canal.

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.

Sharing the canal with huge ships can be very humbling!

Sharing the canal with huge ships can be very humbling!

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.

Intense concentration is needed as the freighters move fast and leave no room for helm error.

Intense concentration is needed as the freighters move fast and leave no room for helm error.

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.

The transporter bridge at Rendsburg, a town just over half way down the canal. The hardest work is over.

The transporter bridge at Rendsburg, a town just over half way down the canal. The hardest work is over.

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.

A new day... waking to the sunshine at the Royal British Kiel Yachtclub

A new day… waking to the sunshine at the Royal British Kiel Yacht Club

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:

Ah! what pleasant visions haunt me
As I gaze upon the sea!
All the old romantic legends,
All my dreams, come back to me.
 
 Till my soul is full of longing
For the secret of the sea,
And the heart of the great ocean
Sends a thrilling pulse through me.
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About Viking Queen

I am a sailor and I live on my boat 'Free'. I have no home but originate from Tyneside. I have no allegiance, just a desire to do no harm and live with courage and an open heart.
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17 Responses to The Mighty Kiel Canal…

  1. christian says:

    glad you like it, this is the top verse and i think the bottom one very long but these two stood out and made me think of you alone at sea but the longing to go further on to the next step with free
    Cx

  2. Simona says:

    So glad you’ve made it! Hope the divers will have good news to put your mind at rest.

    Great photography and captivating commentary, as always.

    Simona x

  3. Great news, Poppy! I am so happy that you have made it!! xHarriet

  4. Penelope says:

    Well done Poppy. So glad you are through the worst bit now. Onward and upward……The gear box will soon be a distant memory. Love P & Dxxx

  5. Sue Horsup says:

    Whew Pops, glad you made it through, what an achievement at the beginning of your 56th year! Hope those divers find nothing untoward.
    Love M & S xx

  6. Christine says:

    Woo Hoo! Whatever were you worried about?!?!? xx

  7. Michael Murphy says:

    Well done (again), Poppy !

    Surely the Baltic is not such a bad place to be in (late) Spring ?

    Or is it, too, full of hidden, uncharted perils?

    “Oh, to be in Kiel Now that June is here……. Holtenau has opened, Behind me lies the fear.

    Before me seas of people, Deep, uncharted souls. Before me human oceans, The sense of my patrol; portholes; My goals.”

    • Viking Queen says:

      The Baltic is notoriously rocky so great care has to be taken, especially accurate chart fixes. There are no tides though, so wind is the main hazard, especially around headlands and channels. They generate currents up to four knots in places. For me though Mike, it is rarely visited by British and Irish boats due to the awkwardness in getting here, thus has some appeal. It has an exotic feel for the ghosts of the old Eastern Bloc remain. I find that fascinating as this will surely disappear in the next ten years. It doesn’t look far on the map but it seems to be when you are actually sailing here (it feels different). I hope to learn more as I go, but am very wary as usual.
      ‘Deep, uncharted souls’ …. beautiful.

  8. Great news,Poppy! I had a feeling you’d sail through in every sense! Now take a breather with,I hope by now, better news about “Free”,bless her!
    You’ve beaten the mighty canal too. Prayers will keep you afloat for a long time somehow!
    I’m quite excited by your email and that poem.
    Love ,keep the news flowing too!
    Ruth

    • Viking Queen says:

      Ah Ruth,
      I can imagine you following my journey! It’s great to have you with me in spirit and a tonic to receive your messages! Keep them coming!

  9. lulu says:

    Well done you (both of you) very glad to hear you made it safe and sound. xxxxxx

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