Sunday, June 11, 2017

Kiel Canal Transit, Germany - a surreal experience

Back in 1784, before Germany as we know it existed, the southwest corner of the Baltic Sea was connected to the North Sea by the Eiderkanal, a 27 mile long canal link to the river Eider which empties into the North Sea. The entire waterway was about 110 miles in length but reduced the often dangerously stormy alternative journey, north around Denmark, by about 300 miles. The canal was about 100 feet wide and 10 feet deep, large enough for ships up to 300 tons or so.
Industrial progress over the next century was increasingly swift and the canal's utility waned rapidly in the second half of the 19th century. In 1887 9,000 workers set about digging a new canal directly linking Holtenau in the Baltic to Brunsbuttel in the the North Sea. Eight years and many shovels later the 61 mile trench was completed and formally opened by Kaiser Wilhelm II in 1895.
To reduce canal water currents and consequent erosion due to tidal differences of the two seas, locks were installed at each end of the canal. The canal was enlarged between 1905 and 1914 to accommodate larger sea-going vessels. Today, more than 1,000 commercial ships and 500 leisure craft pass through the canal each week and it was our pleasure to be aboard one of these. See here for more pictures.

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