This was Mark’s last day, and it started in the dark in the pouring rain. We decided to sleep in a bit more in the hopes the rain would stop, but after a while we had no choice. It was a cold miserable morning, and we were all tired after only having about 3-4 hours sleep.
We eventually got on though and our day started with crossing Cuxhaven’s port. It had the most breakwaters out of any port we’ve been along on this trip, we kept thinking we’d gone past the last one and there’d be another. There wasn’t much traffic going in or out though, and things went smoothly.
We paddled along the shipping lane in the Elbe, and a lot of big ships passed us. As we went along we noticed how strong the current was going with us, especially when we went past buoys. Alice said it was a bit like being back on a white water river, and Mark recorded his top speed on his vhf as being 7 knots!
We made good progress despite a bit of slow paddling due to a lack of sleep. Soon we were at the Kiel canal entrance where we made a quick crossing behind a big container ship to join the yachts in the waiting area. We weren’t exactly sure what we were meant to do at this point, so we had a chat with some of the yachtsmen.
We radioed in to announce our intentions to enter the lock, and waited for the white light to signal we could go in.
We were all quite nervous about the lock, as none of us had experienced one before. We entered and saw a big ship on one side and yachts on the other side. Everyone was getting out of their yachts and tying them onto the side, which made us a bit more worried. We weren’t sure whether to tie ourselves on or not as we didn’t want to risk being attached if the current from the lock caused us to capsize.
The gates closed behind us, and nothing much seemed to happen for a while. Mark then noticed the water was already going down just very slowly. It was pretty anticlimactic in the end, but we were pretty happy to have made it finally to the Kiel canal and out of the North sea!
We then stopped in Brunsbüttel which was right at the start of the canal, where Mark was meeting Yvonne to sell his boat. We had some lunch and started reorganising the group kit into mine and Alice’s kayaks.
This is where we parted ways, as me and Alice wanted to try make a bit more progress in order to get through the canal in the next 2 days.
It’d been a long day, so we had a fairly relaxed evening paddle. Even so we made fairly good progress, and made it about 10 miles up the canal. A ferry directed us to a beach we could pull up on as most of the canal’s sides are rocky and difficult to get out of. Thankful to have found somewhere we could get out easily we pulled the boats up a bit and started to sort out our kit.
At this point we met another yachtsman called PieterJan, and his dog. After chatting for a bit he said he’d bring us some tea from his yacht which we were very grateful for. We saw him and his wife again the next morning as we were leaving.
The next two days were long, and we were glad to have cut off some time the evening before or I’m not sure we would have made it in the two days. We saw lots and lots of big ships. We did seem to have a bit of current going with us which helped things as we’d had a lot of long days in a row. We had a land break each day – something we haven’t often done on this trip, but it really helped break up the long days.
On the first day we were paddling till it was starting to get dark. We were trying to find somewhere we could stop for a night and Alice found a yacht marina on her gps. We pulled in and tied our boats up with the yachts, and tried to find someone to ask about what we needed to do in regards to paying.
The portmaster Michael let us stay for free, and gave us access to the toilets and showers which was very much appreciated.
The start of the next day was fairly uneventful. We saw lots more big ships, and the canal got quite narrow at places. At one point a yacht stopped and offered us a tow! Unfortunately we had to decline this offer as we didn’t want to cheat. It can’t have been going much faster than us anyway as we met them waiting at the end for the lock!
We had a 40 minute wait for the lock, and when we eventually went in nothing much seemed to happen. It was even more boring than the first lock, the water levels didn’t even change!
Finally we left the Kiel canal, and arrived into the Baltic sea. There were lots of yachts and ships and we had one last hour paddle to get to the Kiel canoe club. When we finally arrived we met another kayaker who showed us the showers and said we could camp outside the KKK. There were actually two clubs next door the each other, the KKK and the KVK. We met some members from each club and everyone was friendly, although we didn’t get that long to talk to any of them.
The next day we had planned to have as a rest day, as we had been paddling for 8 days. It also turned out to be the hottest day in Germany of the year. We walked into the town in hopes of finding a supermarket. It felt like a very long walk in the heat, and everything was closed as it was a Sunday.
I then got a text from Björn, who is another sponsored P&H paddler we had been in contact with before the trip. Him and his wife Hao invited us to their home for a BBQ. This was a very welcome offer, and the food and the company was awesome! They also drove us to a lake afterwards for a quick swim, which was great after a very hot day.