All the guide books warn that the river section from Bingen to Saint Goar can be fast and dangerous due to strong currents and shallow areas. At the same time, they say it is the most beautiful section of the Rhine as the river runs through a deep valley with lots of castles perched on the hill sides.
So we set off with some trepidation from Schierstein (near Mainz). The river did indeed speed up and soon we were doing record speeds of 17km per hour (our normal speed being 10 km). You could really feel the currents pulling the boat off course. There was very heavy commercial traffic as well and if we were going fast, then the barges over taking us were going even faster, doing 20 km per hour.
On the other hand, the barges coming towards us upstream were fighting the same current and only managing 10 km per hour. They had the right to “blue board” if they wish (meaning they could pass us on the wrong side). So again, it made a very exciting 52km journey, switching over and back across the river to facilitate the boats coming towards us while, at the same time, keeping out of the way of the boats overtaking us and the shallow areas.
The scenery was indeed pretty with numerous castles and vineyards perched along the hill sides and pretty villages along the waterside but in truth it was hard to find time to admire the scenery as we had to concentrate on navigating. We made it to Saint Goar Marina after making a fast turn across the river at full speed into the calm of the marina. We decided to stay two nights to visit and fully appreciate the town.
Saint Goar has a long tradition of tourism, with visitors coming since the 1800s so it is well set up for tourists with many hotels. It has been an UNESCO World Heritage site since 2002. It has the largest castle in the area on the hill top overlooking the town and because it was such a strong castle, it was attacked many times in its history and was under French control for a time. We have consistently told everybody we meet along the way that we are Irish and we always receive a warm welcome wherever we go. However, Nuala, after reading the history of the town “said we better not mention we are Irish here as apparently in the 1600s Irish mercenaries attacked and burnt the town” !!
The marina had one of the most helpful and friendly Hafenmaster we had met. He helped us figure out how our waste tank worked and emptied it for us. So after two days there we set out on our travels again to Bad Nonnef.