We have started our journey on the Rhine! It’s a mighty fast flowing river, with high volumes of barge traffic- a place to be very careful. Hence, there have been no blogs as we have been fully occupied staying out of trouble! It’s a complete change from France’s narrow canals and locks and little or no traffic.
We left Kehl at 10.00am on Thursday 19th June and have now reached Schierstein near Wiesbaden, covering a distance of 211 km in three days, stopping in Worms on the way. It’s hard to convey to you the high boat speeds on the Rhine due to the current. The river can be so wide in some places, then the narrow navigation channels in other areas. There is a constant stream of barges going both ways. I hope the photos will give you some idea.
We have both AIS (Automatic Information Systems) and GPS tracking working on our navigation software on my laptop. This lets us know the exact position of our boat at all times. It also shows the name and speed of the barges coming towards us and overtaking us from behind. We have found the best way to manage, is for Nuala to steer, while I keep checking the navigation software.
Using binoculars to check if the oncoming barges are blue boarding (will explain later) or not and where the channel markers are , I then decide which course we should take. To add to the complications, barges coming up stream can decide to pass you on the wrong side. When doing so, they put up a blue board with flashing lights, on their starboard side. Some of the barges ignore small pleasure craft and don’t do us the courtesy of putting up the blue board and still pass us on the wrong side.
In one situation, we had the first barge coming at us blue boarding, the second did not and the third did! Remember the speed during all this manoeuvring, our boat is doing 17 km per hour, the oncoming barges are doing 10 km and the barges overtaking us are doing 20 km. (To put it in prospective some days in France we were lucky to manage to travel 18 km in a day – now we are doing the same in an hour!)
All very exciting stuff- we are covering a lot of ground but as I keep reminding Nuala , if we get a decision wrong at these speeds and traffic levels , the consequences will be very serious.