This is "Onbekommerd"!

Friday, July 8, 2011

From Wilhelmshaven all the way to Groningen

Some Wangerooge to Wilhelmshaven pics to start with:

Fishing on the Wad

Last 'prikken route'

As you get up the Jade, there are more big ships

Wilhelmshaven is a naval port

As planned we left Wilhelmshaven around 8h40, but at the first bridge we were told to wait until 9h30 to get ‘in sync’ with the traffic in the canal. Once we were on our way, the canal was very nice, extremely quiet and quite beautiful. For a section, the bridge keeper travels with you in his car (or on his motorbike) to open the bridges (or to operate the occasional lock) so that the bridge or lock is already open when you get there. These are also very friendly individuals and you sort of ‘get to know’ them and wave goodbye at the end of the section.

Some impressions of the Ems - Jade canal:

A manually operated swing bridge and a big fixed bridge in the background

 It took us the whole day to get to Aurich, which is a mid sized town, OK but not that exciting with a very quiet and well equipped yacht harbour. The following day, we and another Dutch boat from Lemmer whom we first saw on Juist and had sort of been travelling together with, left at 9 and got to Emden at the end of the canal in the early afternoon. The highlight was the ‘Kesseller lock’, which connects 4 waterways of different levels and therefore has 4 exits! The picture below does not quite show it, but it gives an idea. Apparently this is the only 4-way lock in Europe, there are a few 3 way ones.

Emden is quite a big town with a few interesting buildings, most of the town was destroyed in WW2. We left just before 9 am in order to catch the opening of the railway bridge and hoping to catch the outgoing tide to Delfzijl, which is ‘back in the Netherlands’. The German helpfulness and friendliness which we had experienced so far and in such big measures had however run out: the lock keeper at the (admittedly very big) lock declined to run the lock just for 5 pleasure craft and told us we had to wait until commercial boats wanted to use the lock, in which case we could join in.

Inside the lock at Emden!

This caused a 3 ½ hour wait but more importantly, caused us the miss the outgoing tide so that we had to travel into 2 knots of tide instead of having 2 knots behind us, which almost halved out SOG (speed over ground) and added another hour to the trip. Once in Delfzijl, the locking procedure was fast and by 3pm we were on our way to Appingedam. Now there was a misunderstanding about the need to have a ‘self service key’ for the bridge giving access to Appingedam (no you don’t need a key to operate the bridge, but yes you do need one to call the bridge keeper!) so that it was 6pm by the time we eventually tied up in Appingedam, which is a very nice old town (but something must be wrong if half of the buildings housing the local shops and businesses are for sale…).

Appingedam is famous for these 'hanging kitchens', built like that to save inside space

This morning (Friday) we did some serious restocking of the provisions at the local ‘Albert Heyn’ supermarket which is just 2 minutes walk from the boat (we took the trolley back to the boat) and is brand new and enormous (and no, I don’t think that’s why the other businesses are closing as they are not ‘grocery shops). The next disappointment was that the water level in the Damsterdiep, a supposedly nice and quiet waterway was too high, making the bridges just a few cm too low for Onbekommerd so that we had to take the straight and boring Eemskanaal instead. So here we are in Groningen, a few steps from the city centre where there seems to be a market tomorrow.

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