Log of Mainz- Passau in May 2008


FRI 9    Sun and warm

Making ready for off.  Bikes stowed, rubbish off.

Petra and Guido arrive for trip to Frankfurt, which is kind of them.  Their barman Marco could only manage time for a coffee.

Sad to leave Mainz, which we have really enjoyed.

Gorgeous weather, now on to the Main and locks again.  Lost a fender as we were leaving the 2nd lock, luckily lock keeper allowed us to go astern and pick it up.

According to Petra buttermilk is used as a drink or poured over cereal or fruit, not in cooking as it is used in bread making in Ireland.

Passed factories for Hoechst chemicals, Opel cars and porcelain.  Although there is a fair amount of industry here it doesn’t impinge on the river as it did on the outskirts of Liege for example.

No marina in Frankfurt for us so came alongside the town wall.

Just time for a farewell glass of champagne with Petra and Guido before they caught their train back to Mainz in time to open their restaurant.

A good place to people watch- although they are generally not very stylish.  We had an audience whilst we had our supper on the stern deck, one of the penalties of tying up in the centre of a city.

We had a drink or two at a very local bar away from the tourist area. James returned there later and I don’t know what time he came back on board!!

Not much time for sightseeing but did see some stunning modern buildings.


SAT 10     Sunny and warm   Breeze later

Brilliant covered market selling every sort of fresh produce, meat, veg, bread, coffee etc.  A majority of stalls manned by Italians whom we have found in most markets we have visited.

We are now following in the footsteps of Bill and Laurel Cooper who wrote “Backdoor to Byzantium” after doing this trip in 1995.  Laurel went to the market in Frankfurt too.  Ones fruit and veg are put into brown conical shaped bags - very ergonomic.

A lovely day, 4 locks and no problems.


The mooring was in the old lock cut, not quite under the castle walls.  It is Pentecost and we arrived just as all the local boats set out dressed overall for their river parade with fly past to mark the start of their boating season.

As usual we were made very welcome at their club house/boat. 15.00€ for the night.

13th century church/monastery with 10th c. origins.  Quite plain almost Lutheran except for very ornate pulpit looking as though made from ceramics; modern red sandstone altar, prayer desks and seats to front of Chancel.  Beautiful cloisters and crowds gathering for Pentecostal concerts.  Huge castle/Bishops’ Palace on the waterfront in red sandstone 17th c.

Big boat parties in marina, accordion players etc., surprisingly we had a quiet night.

SUN 11      Sun and warm   Good breeze later

Slipped 09.45 having “dipped” fuel tanks, washed decks etc. Jim is now “OC” engine room wearing his white engineer’s overalls from his time in Eaglet and minesweepers.

Rural countryside and hills, wonderful steep vineyards with red sandstone terracing, lots of woods and trees bordering the river.  The campsites look very pleasant.  Low barge traffic but lots of water skiers and pleasure boats.

Cormorants, herons, swans, ducks.About 1.5 hours delay in total at locks.

Arrived 16.15 at MILTENBURG,

tied up to town wall opposite the fire station - useful, hope not!  The river is quite wide here, water meadows on one side and very pretty Medieval town on our side, two lovely old bridges.  About 7 tourist buses and a lot of badly dressed middle aged/elderly visitors trudging back.  Boat ahead of us has a Tilly dog (Dachshund) and a very old skipper.

Good walk around town, Mike and I went to buy ice creams but realised we had no money with us; shop keeper let us eat them and Mike biked back with the money later.

Supper on board.


MON 12     Sunny and warm     The odd fluffy cloud later    Really hot but cold in the evening.

Slipped 08.30.  Still as a millpond.  Pentecost Bank Holiday.  4 locks, lesser/greater delays at each.  Again good campsites.  lovely steeply wooded countryside and some vines.

Arrived 13.00 at WERTHEIM, another old medieval town.

The club house and mooring up a narrow cut with very low bridge at entrance which we just squeezed under; pontoon decidedly rickety.  Lunch and a beer before Jim and I went to explore and Mike did some work on the dinghy.  Lovely Doll Museum and lots of 12th c. buildings.  

Cafes overrun by tourists from coaches and river boats; however we did find a quiet shady Turkish run cafe, Jim had a hot chocolate, too hot for me, and I had a long cool drink.

The club showers are in a beautiful old sandstone building, shower room nearly as large as our bedroom and spotlessly clean.  15€ per night

Family of swans with 7 cygnets, parents fiercely protective.

Very quiet at night.


TUE 13    Quite cold early then warm and sunny.   Later lots of cloud

Slipped 09.15.  We now have our morning routine of dipping fuel tanks, checking engines etc. down to a fine art and even Mike’s log is kept up-to-date more or less.  Jim has his own Engineer’s log of engine temperatures etc.

Mike made a superb stern board exit.

Beautiful trees, steep sides, vines - Sylvaner grapes.

Long lock waits.  We met a very friendly English-speaking policeman at first lock who told us which kind of grape was grown in this region.

Red sandstone like Caldy in west Wirral, predominates.

Got stuck behind a double barge and 3 very small, badly driven pleasure boats which we had to pass in case they took the last place at LOHR, where we just managed to squeeze in.

Another very pleasant haven, lawns, seating, clean showers, friendly club members.  18€.

Swan sitting on her nest just behind us.

A 4 month old Westie on boat behind us.  A kindly man took Mike in his car to the industrial area to buy a computer power supply, which they didn’t have!

Town is quaint, did some food shopping and got a new screw in my dark glasses.

Supper at “The Crown”, lovely white wine, Sylvaner... as the policeman had recommended.  Good food.

Strangely for a pretty town Lohr didn’t have a lot of tourists; the other Main towns we have been through are overrun and I can’t help feeling the city fathers are intent on milking the tourist industry for every penny!  The 2 very skinny elderly men in cycling shorts whom I had seen in Wertheim are here too.


WED 14    Sun, chilly first thing.   Few drops of rain

 Slipped 08.35.  Glorious countryside, water still as mill pond again.  No room for us at Karlstadt, marina too small.  Got stuck behind Euroca who didn’t have much room in locks and was slow so we decided to stop at 14.00 at HIMMELSTADT LOCK on the weir side of wall; the Water Board didn’t mind us on their mooring platform.  

Had to lengthen our lines to get a good hold on bank.

Make do and mend, preparing for new varnish etc.

Went out for explore and drink at a huge outdoor drinking and eating area, play area, bbq area; good fun.  Eventually had supper at 22.00.  

Lovely huge clumps of irises in gardens and allotments.

First cuckoo and first Hungarian and Romanian barges.


THURS 15     Dull, a bit of rain later, more wind but not too chilly

08.35 slipped, again millpond conditions.

Wonderful patterns of vines on the steep slopes.  Villages becoming very rural, lots of allotments.

Zellingen looks a good place to visit by road or boat, but too early for us to stop.

Jim taking photos of every lock and barge and lots more besides, I have lent him my camera as he left his new one, given by Jill for this voyage, on the plane, silly boy.

2 locks. Cash only fuel at barge just down stream from WURZBURG

Found a rather small mooring at the Yacht Club in a backwater off the Main, having gone through the town lock with the most attractive lock keeper’s house.  Again made very welcome. Met Karl Schmidt on Adler whom we had met in Krefeld and Koblenz last year; he seemed pleased to see us again.  Also met the developers of new flats being built upstream from the Yacht Club, one born in Malaysia and speaking very good English.

Several fours and sculls practicing in our backwater.

The lady “Capitain” of the YC is a very keen gardener.

Supper on board, then went to Owl... on Sanderstrasse, interior designed like miniature cow stalls, a bit twee and too hot for us, beers turned out too sweet also.


FRI 16    Dull early, sun soon   Rain in night     Hot

A quick shop at Lidl on Leistenstrasse, then Mike and I off to Dom for organ recital which happens each day at 12.00.  Not very inspiring organ or music though Wurzburg is meant to be organ city of the world!  The Dom mostly destroyed during the war, rebuilt quite modern, modern glass and some glorious modern bronze doors.

Mike went off to join Jim at the Fortress Marienberg, a huge castle towering high above the town.  I went to the magnificent “Residence”, a UNESCO site, like a miniature Versailles together with a hall of mirrors.  Still undergoing restoration, especially to the Tiepolo ceilings, the painting has a lot of dogs, “6 pack men” and bosomed women.  The gardens must have been lovely but are in need of someone to weed.

I had lunch at an Italian cafe, very nice, lots of music students around, must be near the Conservatoire.  Saw a dear little old lady in hat, best dress and her lace “modesty” vest, haven’t seen one of those for years.  Also a young violinist with crocodile skin cigarette case and cigarette holder.

I had a long walk to the Kulturspeicher, art gallery in an old warehouse.  1970-80 paintings, exactly the same style as same period in UK, mainly Swedish, Danish, German and Finnish, also 1890/1920 Pre-Raphaelites and Impressionists. The curators were impressed that I had bothered to visit. Came back on tram.


SAT 17     Rain in night, dull, then brighter but not as hot as previously Video of the day

I went up to the Fortress Marienberg which is magnificent and huge, in a commanding position above the town overlooking the river. The good museums were v. interesting but I did not stay long as we wanted to slip at 12.00.  Vines planted right up to castle walls.

3 locks, uneventful.

Moored at KITZINGEN, another tight mooring, lovely clean showers, first since Wertheim (Monday!)


SUN 18    Dull and a bit chilly, sun later . Video 18 May 2008

Slipped 09.15.  At long last have stowed my bike on stern bathing platform so that it doesn’t appear in every photo!

Another grey wagtail came for a ride on forward deck.

Virtually no sport boats on river considering it is Sunday, but a “bikefest” on land passing through several villages which we could see.                                   

5 Locks in total.

Tried two hafens and both too small for us.  Now we are on a locked river. The size of boat is much smaller here compared with those on the Rhine where they had to be larger and more powerful to stem the tide, therefore the hafens were designed for larger boats.

16.30 ish moored alongside town wall at SCHWEINFURT, the scene of Bill and Laurel’s near disaster when the mooring lines of their boat were cut and she nearly went over the weir.

This is another town devastated by the Allies in March 1945.  There are some good new buildings particularly around the university.  It is the home of the ball bearing.

Saw a couple roller blading whilst pushing their twins in a double buggy down a slope towards the river!  Roller blading is big in Germany.

Jim has a cold.

In spite of adverse comments in guide books, I thought Schweinfurt a pleasant town, re-built sympathetically, lots of small squares and alleyways, two piano shops, quite expensive clothes, good supermarket which opens at 08.30.


MON 19     Dull                          Video 19 May 2008

Sorry- the link is currently broken

Shopped early and was actually able to buy warm bread.  Slipped 09.45, 5 locks, one very long wait for enormous double barge which was a very tight fit. Tried to find a mooring in BAMBURG but none existed for us so moored alongside the very long steel training wall above the first lock on Main/Donau canal.  384 km and 35 locks since Mainz.

The German caravans have enormous zipped “add-ons” to double their size - very comfortable.

I can’t understand why there are so few marinas and virtually no walls to tie to, these only available for hotel boats, makes our life quite tricky - it is not possible to anchor in the river for fear of being hit, also a strong tide.

Lots of Canada geese and goslings.  Very quiet, more barge traffic during the evenings than during daytime.


TUES 20     Sunny

Morning spent doing useful things, then long walk into Bamburg alongside the canal, for lunch and sightseeing.

Very attractive with a “Little Venice” area complete with gondola.  Mike and I went up to the “New Residence” and the cathedral with east and west end altars, re-built several times but not bombed in last war. At the Residence we had a German guided tour through the state-rooms, all with enormous porcelain wood burning stoves.  For me the most interesting aspect was the beautiful timber floors, set in patterns of squares or roundels with acanthus leaf decoration; the wood mostly oak, some beech and elm.

Lunch at the Hafbrau, quite good.

Couldn’t find a supermarket.  Bought delicious asparagus in the market.


WED 21     Dullish and quite chill    Light rain

Took an age to do the shopping, found a good butcher and also greengrocer who sold bread by the kilo and gave me a free bunch of radishes.  Had to walk miles to find the supermarket for the remainder.  Mike went off on bike and was also away until 13.30. (No video for this day)

Slipped around 14.00 and into guillotine lock, first on the Main/Donau canal.  Canal very straight with lowish bridges - always a slight frisson of worry as to whether we will get under - no worries, at least half a metre to spare!  On our way we passed the Museum of Levy Strauss at Buttenheim.

3 locks then found dear little hafen at FORCHHEIM and moored just in front of a very pretty old three arch bridge.

Welcoming hafen meister.  Showers and loos absolutely spotless.  Nearly tame one legged duck lives here. 15€ per night.


THURS 22     Sunny but quite chilly    Chill wind

Make do and mend day with 2 washes.  Preparing for varnishing.

Went off to explore Forchheim which is delightful and VERY old mainly 14c. properties, well renovated, I don’t think the town had been bombed.

Corpus Christi - this morning a parade through the area nearest to the Hafen, with the Tabernacle paraded, uniformed brass band and the inhabitants mostly dressed in 1960’s M & S suits.

We are very close to the Radweg (cycle route) and as it is a holiday there are hundreds of cyclists passing us, mainly middle aged to elderly.

Too many people wearing bad beige and large numbers of women with hennaed hair.

We don’t find people here as friendly as along the Rhine - the guide books call them “reserved”.  We think a lack of wealth might be the reason.


FRI 23    Small amount of rain during night.    Sun but chill wind.

Staying here another day.  Washed the boat, did painting touch ups.  Launched the dinghy to allow it to “take up”.

Shopped not too successfully.

Gardens have a real mix of plants, rhododendrons, iris, (brilliant everywhere) tulips, day lilies.

Only two stalls open in the market and most shops still closed, presumably to make a long w/e off work.


SAT 24     Sun and warm.                                      Video 26 MB

Slipped 09.30.  Unfortunately caught up with “50:50 Pedro” and also a pusher barge which meant following one behind the other through 3 locks until eventually we managed to pass but may have exceeded the speed limit; slow running doesn’t suit our engines.

Flag irises beside the canal, a few ducks but no herons.

Arrived at YC NURNBURG at 15.00 to a just adequately long mooring.  Friendly folk.  Goodish supermarket though the beef we bought was a bit tough.  Enormous fish leaping in the Hafen. Vegemite going down well.

Earlyish night.

This Hafen is fairly scruffy and several boats in the process of being “done up”. Forgot to empty grey tank whilst on the canal, so now can’t do a wash!

SUN 25     light rain, clears to lovely sun and warm

09.15 off to explore Nurnburg. 69 bus, then UBahn to Dokumentations Zentrum and Zeppelin Field.  Very interesting and quite horrific.  The buildings have been left crudely finished and the outside overgrown, which adds to the sinister atmosphere.  I wonder what the young German visitors feel.

The Nurnburg Symphony Orchestra has its home in part of the building; unfortunately we couldn’t look inside to find out how it had been adapted to a concert hall.

Mike and I left Jim to his exploring and went back into the centre, hoping to watch the Monaco GP, but no bars were showing it.  We had lunch at the Albrecht Durer Stuben, pleasant.  I went to the A-D museum and Mike went in search of internet cafe.  Very irritating commentary pretending to be Agnes Durer, his wife.  No originals, as over the years the City has had to sell them to pay for the city’s basic requirements, like sewage works!; they can be viewed in other museums around the world.  Konnad Volkerts exhibition beautiful.

I was exploring when I came across the Toy Museum, much the best I have ever seen, better than that at Bethnal Green. I didn’t know there had been 3 different makers of Meccano type construction sets.  A party of 3rd agers all goo-gooing over the toys they must have played with.

Popped into San Lorenzo, lucky church still has original stained glass.

Very smart shops around Adler/Konigstrasse and expensive looking women window shopping.

Up at the Kaiserburg lots of bars set into the old town wall, also groups of Bavarian dancers and fiddle players and lots of beer drinking.

Eventually found my way back to the boat, I found the Hauptbahnhof very muddling.

Back at the Hafen the two 50-60 year old men were out again speeding up and down the river in their little Geminis.

MON 26     Dull, hot later                                                   Video

Slipped 08.45 and 50:50 came too but stopped off earlier than us.  3 x 25m deep locks, the first at Eibach was having its floating bollards renewed which meant we had to change our lines 18 times with the water coming into the lock very fast, lucky Jim is here to help.  

Coming into the last lock of the day, we were savaged by a male swan protecting his wife and 8 cygnets. He disappeared from view and we assumed he was damaged - not a bit of it, he kept flying at the boat and pecking the hull until we were well into the lock, meanwhile his wife was serenely paddling around with the family.

Nowhere obvious to stop, luckily, however, the Water Board allowed us to come alongside at their depot; very helpful and no charge.  We were able to sit in the shade of the pretty garden and I managed to dry the washing by erecting a line between the trees.

Met up again with Marieka and Jappi on their sailing boat Horizon III, en route to Turkey from Friesland.  They will live all year on board having sold up.  They told us they had been stopped twice on the Rhine by river police checking on red diesel fuel and drugs.

TUES 27    Hot all day   Very hot

08.30 slipped with Horizon so as to get through the next lock together.  A 4 lock day.                                 Video

The HILPOLTSTEIN lock is the last going up and is the highest in Europe at 406 m.  Now on the descent from North Sea to Black Sea on the Main/Donau canal.

The countryside is changing, becoming quite Alpine, small scale farming, logging, mixed fir and deciduous forests.  Vistas opening and closing all the time.

One or two herons, which we haven’t seen for a day or two and some tufted ducks.

Again only one suitable hafen but too early to stop.  Eventually we came alongside another Water board quay at Riedenburg, the offices built to the same design as the previous ones, ie circular, and the same very helpful staff.

We think they are aware of the lack of mooring places for boats our size and are keen to be helpful, they are pushing for new marinas along the canal.

Several herds of goats.

No traffic going our way so no long lock waits.

Drinks with the Dutch couple.

Main Donau Canal 170km, 17 locks.

WED 28     Dull and warm


Slipped 09.20 to catch the last lock, had to come alongside Horizon as no floating bollards.

Stopped for shopping at RIEDENBURG, another Pennymarkt.  The small town, quite attractive, is on the small cruise boat itinerary, therefore lots of bits and bobs shops.

KELHEIM, just below is the start of our journey down the Danube, 6 knots of tide which is OK.  Stopped for night at KAPFELBERG in the Kelheim Hafen.  Alongside the walkway is a slightly stagnant stream, mosquitoes and flies.  Good showers but very low electrical power ( 170 volts), which we fused twice.

Went for explore after supper, up 208 steps to the church where there is the most amazing graveyard.  All the headstones are enormous and new, each grave having an ornamental flower garden beautifully kept.  Looks as though the village/church was given money to renew.

Extraordinarily as we walked back through this farming village it was completely silent, no dogs, no tv or radio, no chatting in the houses, even the caravan park was tidy but empty.

Saw a water rat/vole swimming along very fast with a long reed in its mouth.

THUR 29     Hot           Video

08.45 slipped from our very quiet but rather fly ridden mooring, the old fashioned fly papers we had bought in Mainz are working well, if not very pretty. A meandering morning to REGENSBURG, another city state.  Just through the lock we saw Horizon again and stopped to check their engine was OK, like ours it is a little uncertain.  We decided to stop on the lock waiting wall too.  

The road bridge over the lock is closed as a Dutch bargee going downstream forgot to lower his car hoist, crashed into the bridge, fracturing the gas main which went up in flames trapping the poor lock keeper for two hours, his windows melted, luckily he was OK though quite shocked.  The steel bridge girders very twisted.

Regensburg is the first un-bombed town we have come to.  A lovely unspoilt place.  Expensive shops, antiques, lovely squares and alleyways.  It is still run by Thurn unt Taxis, the old brewing family.

Had supper at Alte Linden by the river, a huge garden crammed with people. Service good but I chose badly, Regensburg sausage salad, onions and mounds of pale sliced meat, Mike and Jim had delicious food.

A pigeon did a huge dropping onto the immaculate white shirt of the man sitting next to us - he was not amused.

After he had gone an engineering professor from Nurnburg came and chatted for a while.

Varnishing now ready but too hot and dusty to put on.

“Herr Gruber”/4 stripe police officer and his little boat had a technical problem, he couldn’t go either ahead or astern, we offered to assist, but were turned down.


FRI 30    Sun, but breeze so not too hot on boat

Stayed the day in Regensburg.  I did some good sightseeing whilst Mike did more useful things; he went out later in the day.  It is a lovely city, lovely old buildings, little alleyways, quite plain cathedral, gardens etc.

5 hotel ships went upstream (one at 05.30 with people in night clothes looking out) all disgorging their passengers at the same time - this makes for very busy sightseeing.  The h. boats don’t seem to stagger their arrival/departure times.


SAT 31     Hot             Video

Slipped 07.45, river very wide here, misty and quite difficult to see the marks, I wouldn’t want to be on this river in bad weather.

Called in at STRAUBING but nowhere to moor.  Birth place of librettist of Magic Flute, the story based on poor Agnes who was drowned by henchmen of her king father-in-law as she wasn’t politically correct, her husband then fought his father but eventually realised that the future of the kingdom was important and married another who could further their interests.

Lots of families on little river beaches having fun.

Came into DEGGENDORF, just off the river, rather small for us but everyone helped get us into place.  The hafen has been renewed this year, with all 40 members helping to rebuild.  No showers on site but the club has the use of some in a BB - up a ladder, over a wall, across a railway line, down some pallets and across the road - quite easy really!

The club has kitchens which any member can use, they tend to have breakfast and supper together at their long tables.  We were invited to their BBQ and one of the members (Petra, an oncology nurse) took me to a supermarket to buy suitable BBQ food.

Not much English spoken, a good opportunity for Jim to practice his German.  Met the chief German salesman for Mercedes, very nice man who was just off to India as part of his prize for selling so many cars.

SUN 01 JUNE     Hot, again

Lazy start; did some washing, washed the decks and a few useful jobs.

Lunch under the Club’s awning, much cooler than on our boat.

I discovered that the bare poles/stripped pine trees, we have seen in villages along the way, are special to the region; most have a few branches remaining at the very top and are decorated with ribbons for “may pole dancing”;

Very good roses grown here.  We walked into the attractive small town, part modern, part old.  We spent too much time at internet cafe which meant we hadn’t got too much time to spare as we had to get back before the club closed the gates at the end of the w/e.

We had supper at the Greek restaurant over the wall and across the railway line.  Bill and Laurel had dined here on their travels when the river was 2.5m higher and the mooring bollards were below water level.


MON 02    Hot                       Video

Little red engine pulling a very long train of goods wagons passed twice going from station to port.

Remembered to sign the visitors’ book, bought bread and watched a large corporation lady driving her little watering van - no need for her to get out, she just stopped at each flower bed and directed her water hose onto the beds.

Slipped at 08.45 just behind the Swiss.

The depth gauge has gone.  Called in at HALKIRCHEN Marina to try and free weed or whatever, in the end Jim very nobly swam under the boat, but to no avail, no weedy obstructions.  Rang the suppliers who might be able to send the appropriate bit with Emma when she comes to Budapest.

Carried on to HEINING -PASSAU, moored on riverside so a bit bumpy.  Lovely spot, trees, gardens, nice clubhouse, clean showers.

I put on a wash but the power fused, naturally I thought it was me so kept a low profile until power on again. However it went off again, luckily it was the Swiss in their boat Colina from Basle who had a problem with their electrics.

TUE 3     Dull with some rain

Didn’t get the washing dry for Tom and Madeleine and now it is raining!

Mike and I went into Passau on bus to a concert at the Cathedral which is a riot of Baroque decoration, not an inch remaining undecorated except the lower part of pillars.  Cathedral nearly full for a brilliant organ concert including Bach Toccata & Fugue in D Minor, just wonderful.

No time to do more exploring as had to hurry back to the boat to make sure the washing dried, then back to Haupbahnhof to meet Tom and Madeleine.  Very good to see them.

Decided to eat out at our end of town, unfortunately after 500m walk, the restaurant was closed, so ended up at an Italian restaurant which luckily turned out to be good.

Jim’s last meal with us, very sad after four weeks, we shall miss him, and who will take over engine room duties?

Luckily the bedding dried so T & M could go to bed in comfort.

We spent the winter here- the aptly named

Winterhaven Mainz