Thursday, 16 June 2016

Kiel Canal Part Two

We spent the night at Brunsbüttel, at the western end of the Kiel canal. All night long, huge ships were being very gently and slowly guided into the locks only a few yards away from us. We woke to a still foggy morning. However the fog cleared and we had a bright sunny day as we motored along the broad tree-lined canal.  Calismarde is here shown motoring past a might container ship.

The second picture shows the paddle steamer Freya which passed us at great speed carrying a cargo of tourists. Built in 1905 she was originally a royal yacht. Paddle steamers are inherently inefficient and we were surprised by how fast she was going. It turns out that she has had an  additional propeller propulsion system retro-fitted to perk up her performance.

The Kiel canal is almost 100km long and when opened in 1895 was viewed as a substantial engineering and financial achievement of the new industrialised Germany. Seen as it is now, running through gentle farmland and useful for commerce and tourism, it is hard to see the canal as part of the arms race that lead to the first world war. Yet it was constructed to allow battleships to pass unhindered from the German Baltic ports to the North Sea. A war with Germany was often anticipated in the early years of the twentieth century. There was open discussion in Britain that if a war was to come, then it was unlikely that it would start until the Canal had been widened to accommodate larger battleships and increased naval traffic: this work was completed in 1913.

Tonight we are at the delightful town of Rendsburg, about 2/3 of the way along the Kiel canal. Our experience was not spoilt by the fact that a torrential rain squall started just as we were tying up the boats. Here we filled up with diesel and found a suitable restaurant in the quaint town centre.