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notamermaid
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Kaub at 94cm. Weather getting worse. Warning level 3 for parts of Southwest Germany. Heavy rain in parts of the Black Forest later as well. Not a pleasant night in the high hills. Storm up to level Bft 8 in some of the valley, away from the river 9 to 10 possible.

 

About 5 now where I am but the barometric pressure gauge shows worse things to come.

 

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Well, I certainly did not sleep well, a mix of storm and full moon effects. It is still stormy but it has moved on to the East, the heaviest gusts can now be expected in Thuringia, towards Dresden and into the Czech Republic, reaching force 11.

 

Still expect force 9 to 10 near Breisach in the hills for example for much of the day. Not a good day for a Black Forest excursion. Branches and the occasional tree blocking country roads have been reported.

 

Kaub at 92cm. Steady rise expected from this afternoon.

 

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The storm unfortunately also affected a river cruise ship during the night: https://www.rhein-zeitung.de/region/aus-den-lokalredaktionen/koblenz-und-region_artikel,-sturm-ignatz-fahrgastschiff-faehrt-auf-der-mosel-bei-koblenz-gegen-bruecke-_arid,2324547.html

 

A ship coming from Cologne on its way to Luxembourg, hit the railway line bridge over the Moselle at the Koblenz suburb called Güls. A sudden gust of wind pushed it too close to one of the pillars so that it hit one of the arched spans of the bridge. After examination and emergency repairs (see photo) it could sail on to Cochem. The bridge has been established as being safe. Name of ship not disclosed.

 

This morning the main railway line on the left bank between Cologne and Koblenz was closed due to a train colliding with a tree branch on the rails. For several hours traffic was diverted via the right bank.

 

In the far North of the country near Kiel a tornado caused major damage.

 

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23 minutes ago, notamermaid said:

@SCBarker Nice to hear from you. Hope Strasbourg was great. Are/were you docked in the Strasbourg docks or in Kehl on the Rhine from where you crossed over into France?

 

notamermaid

 

We're docked in Kehl. There must be some bad traffic because our ship was supposed to leave by now, but neither afternoon excursion bus had returned yet.

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2 hours ago, SCBarker said:

We're docked in Kehl. There must be some bad traffic because our ship was supposed to leave by now, but neither afternoon excursion bus had returned yet.

I hope everyone has returned safely.

 

It has been quite an eventful 36 hours but the storm has eased now somewhat. Strongish winds remain and there is still a warning for the mountains of the Black Forest and the Breisgau (Freiburg, etc.) till late at night and in the East of Germany for a bit longer.

 

There was a tornado in Emmerich near the Dutch border yesterday evening and in the Netherlands there have been mini tornadoes today.

 

Unfortunately the danger is not over for the coasts as they expect a storm surge. The water has already pushed up the Elbe and has flooded the Fish Market in Hamburg (they get that occasionally, so know it, but is always a little worrying).

 

Kaub at 100cm.

 

notamermaid

 

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Much of the West of Germany has returned to level 1 storm warning or even no warning. The weather has brightened up.

 

Kaub now at 116cm. No further rise apart from the odd centimetre expected. Which means it is still relatively low but not a problem for river cruise ships. Barges at this level sail with "half load".

 

notamermaid

 

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On 10/17/2021 at 11:21 PM, notamermaid said:

Occasionally, like in Brey, I do venture into the hills, usually aided by four wheels.

 

More on that in another post on the other side of the river where the Rheinsteig trail challenges hikers.

On the right bank of the Rhine the long-distance hiking trail called "Rheinsteig" follows the river from Wiesbaden to Bonn, but to be precise it does not go along the embankment but over the hills. And some of these stages are not that easy. Here is the website: https://www.rheinsteig.de/en/rheinsteig

It of course depends on your level of fitness and whether you walk a whole stage or just parts of one. Want to do the whole trail? Should take some time, it is 320km long.

 

On a pleasant day in late Spring we explored the Rhine valley and hills not far from Braubach and the Marksburg castle. Looking upstream from Braubach, past the village Osterspai and then the village Filsen (known for its cherry orchards) you reach Kamp Bornhofen which is not only a place of pilgrimage with church and a monastery but also has two castles. We neither walked a path with pilgrimage in mind nor hiked, but took the rather shamefully lazy option of getting there and going uphill in the car. The windy,  slightly steep road into the hills got us to a small car park where we briefly stopped to have a look round. The road follows the Bornhofer Bach, a little stream that looks sadly imprisoned and canalized here:

2113325747_rechteRheinseiteDSCN3403.thumb.JPG.9d12352083564307b96a2cedcae505e1.JPG

 

These are the already quite densely forested hills (looking down towards Kamp Bornhofen):

484959004_rechteRheinseiteDSCN3404.thumb.JPG.cdfe95c1a71bb05f06f1598e2dc853c7.JPG

 

And there we met the Rheinsteig. Option one was to continue on the hiking trail for a bit, but we ruled this out looking at this challenge:

1723284457_rechteRheinseiteDSCN3406.thumb.JPG.6fb8f3318acc8f58c366ec9312facc93.JPG

The steps were actually in a state of disrepair, so there is an alternative route, which the green sign indicates. Still, we looked at option two, exploring the small road to the castles. They are called Liebenstein and Sterrenberg, also known as "die feindlichen Brüder", "the hostile brothers". Yup, there is a legend - which some of you may know from the commentary on river cruise ships and excursion boats. It does not come across in the photo, but the sign points uphill:

2029427842_rechteRheinseiteIMG_20210613_155809-KopieCC.thumb.jpg.40927fcabfd54c90776fc8943a5ed045.jpg

 

Although the thought of getting food and drink at the top of the hill was attractive - Liebenstein has a hotel, restaurant and café - the incline was more than what we had anticipated. We just felt too lazy on this very warm day so we went for option three: back to the car, up to the plateau to enjoy the unspectacular but pleasant views over the winding hills, before returning home:

295477003_rechteRheinseiteIMG_20210613_161348.thumb.jpg.6e96a2e4b10938a3091e1b24a1ff2d02.jpg

 

To give you an idea of elevations. Liebenstein castle at 230m above sea level is the highest castle in the Middle Rhine valley. The website: https://www.castle-liebenstein.com/index.html

(expect to - err - pay for the view, not a cheap place). The Rheinsteig trail takes you to the castle. The view over the Rhine is towards the spa town Bad Salzig.

The village of Dahlheim before you get near the fields in the last photo is at 260m. Not far from there is the highest point of the Rheinsteig trail. It is at Lykershausen at a view point of 365m above sea level.

 

Dining in a castle, or just stopping for a coffee there and admiring the view over the valley sounds great, doesn't it? We finally did that a few weeks later at a different castle. But that is for another post.

 

notamermaid

 

 

 

 

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With the weather having much improved, the sun shining on a valley and mild temperatures in the double digits during the day still, the river will start into the coming week at a quite a low level, now at 100cm. With almost no rain forecast for tomorrow, we could see the level fall to below 90cm on Tuesday.

 

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A river cruise ship has got stuck on a shallow spot in the river last night. It hit the ground called Hagenbacher Grund at kilometre 357.4 at 23.30 hours last night due to a nautical error. Police report says the river was low (we know that) and it was very foggy. It was only last week that a tanker got stuck at the same spot. The tanker was freed after several days, but the rescue operation for the river cruise ship is supposed to go ahead during today. Newspaper says all 90 passengers remain onboard and are fine.

 

In this time of low water the shallows become a greater hazard and also the navigation channel becomes narrower. Not easy navigation.

 

Note that the photo in the article is only a representative photo not the ship in question: https://www.rheinpfalz.de/lokal/kreis-germersheim_artikel,-fahrgastschiff-läuft-auf-grund-_arid,5269881.html

 

Kaub level stands at 95cm.

 

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As of 6pm tonight the ship is still stuck on the shallows as a first attempt to free it has failed. A second ship is supposed to be on its way. Hope this works.

 

Kaub gauge has dipped to 89cm already, beating the forecast by 20 hours.

 

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It is the Viking Sigrun. According to a spokesperson the ship got stuck in the navigation channel, i.e. has not drifted out of it. Short video: https://www.rheinpfalz.de/lokal/kreis-germersheim_artikel,-fahrgastschifffährt-sich-auf-rhein-fest-_arid,5269881.html

 

The article says that if the second attempt is not successful by nightfall passengers and crew will have to spend the night onboard. It is completely dark now...

 

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3 hours ago, notamermaid said:

It is the Viking Sigrun. According to a spokesperson the ship got stuck in the navigation channel, i.e. has not drifted out of it. Short video: https://www.rheinpfalz.de/lokal/kreis-germersheim_artikel,-fahrgastschifffährt-sich-auf-rhein-fest-_arid,5269881.html

 

The article says that if the second attempt is not successful by nightfall passengers and crew will have to spend the night onboard. It is completely dark now...

 

notamermaid

 

 

I’ve often wondered - given that the Rhine is such an important commercial waterway for all of Europe, why don’t they dredge out some of the problem areas of the middle Rhine?? There always seem to be recurring problems in the same areas.

Thanks!

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@CILCIANRQTS Before I get to your question, update on the Viking Sigrun. She was still stuck there as of two hours ago (newspaper online update) and to make matters worse, 

 

Rhine River traffic has been halted

 

as a tanker has now got stuck near the Viking Sigrun!

 

I will report back later.

 

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Well, as I have reported in a separate thread, all is well now for the Viking Sigrun - and the tanker - but we have a river traffic ban in place. Dredging is going on in this spot in the Upper Rhine valley. While the Upper Rhine section is deeper than the Middle Rhine section, the low river level now nevertheless is a problem from the last lock at Iffezheim. After this lock the river is free flowing as the Upper Rhine, from Bingen (Binger Loch), which is close to Rüdesheim, as the Middle Rhine, then just after Bonn as the Lower Rhine. From Basel to Iffezheim you will not encounter low water problems (normally) as the authorities have stipulated a depth of three metres to be upheld which is made possible by the dams and locks.

 

The free flowing river also has "desired" depths that the authorities would like to maintain, hence the dredging to make that possible.

 

Kaub is now at 82cm. The forecast shows an almost stationary level for 36 hours, but a slight downward trend exits. Rain is drifting into the valley on Saturday.

 

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Kaub level has gone down to 78cm. This is an official marker and that is why I am posting an update. The desired depth to be maintained in the channel is 1.90m at Kaub at this marker and what one can expect when sailing. The shipping industry uses a different gauge to guide them and their load through the Gorge, by the way. So, at Kaub a river cruise ship needs some space between river bed and hull. At 78cm when the depth is only 1.90m that gets tight. Imagine a bumpy surface that, when the water level gets lower, gets your ship closer to the bumps. Every centimetre less than 78cm increases the risk. In the Middle Rhine valley it is not just gravel, but also rocks. The increased danger also comes from the navigation channel getting narrower.

 

As there is no official ban on shipping in low water, unless there is an incident with an imposed ban like we have now at Iffezheim/Karlsruhe, it is up to the crew to decide if they can sail or not, judging by draught and current and forecast water level. And the reason I can never say anything about a specific ship or ship type not being able to sail. 

 

So, the forecast: inconclusive, between 77cm and 81cm, tonight, Friday and into Saturday. Will rain on Sunday help? We will need to wait and see.

 

notamermaid

 

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On 10/25/2021 at 11:28 PM, CILCIANRQTS said:

I’ve often wondered - given that the Rhine is such an important commercial waterway for all of Europe, why don’t they dredge out some of the problem areas of the middle Rhine?? There always seem to be recurring problems in the same areas.

Thanks!

Basically, dredging happens regularly in many parts of the Rhine. You are right, some stretches are notorious. It has been a particularly bad year, so some spots are worse than in past years. The authorities say that the flooding in Summer - which is unusual so late in the year - caused a lot of deposits. The Rhine carries sand and gravel along constantly (obviously all rivers do that), this year it was a lot, partly made worse by the constant "ploughing" of ship propellers. It is deposited in other places, well-known to the authorities usually, and when the water goes down, first the current stops shifting so much material (the propellers continue of course), then when it gets as low as now, those new deposits pose a danger. As this process was in July rather than in April or May, they are lagging behind in dredging. So, now in October a tanker got stuck at the Hagenbacher Grund last week. It had already been flagged to river traffic as a shallow, but the accident happened nevertheless. We can reasonably assume that the Viking Sigrun got stuck at least partly because of the shifted gravel due to the rescue operation of that tanker (which had been freed in the meantime). Then, as we know, another tanker got stuck next to the Viking Sigrun and the rest of the story is in the other thread.

 

For the maintenance of the navigation channel the authorities have several ships, One of them is the surveying vessel equipped with sonar, the Peilschiff "Mercator". It looks like this: https://www.wsa-rhein.wsv.de/Webs/WSA/Rhein/DE/Rhein/Zahlen_und_Daten/Wasserfahrzeuge/PS_Mercator.html

It creates images of the ground in the navigation channel but can also detect objects like lost anchors and cars.

 

For the Middle Rhine the problem is a larger one, as the dredging helps with the deposits but there are also rocks. A long term solution is needed for better traffic flow throughout the year. For the future it is planned to deepen the Middle Rhine valley from the desired 1.90m to 2.10m. Those extra 20 centimetres are difficult to achieve but will make a great difference for the industry. Translated to river cruising it could mean that when this has happened far fewer days will potentially be lost during drought. Or specifically when we look at this year, right now, we are close to a 135m ship not being able to sail near Kaub and start wondering if that will happen. It could be close. If the channel was 2.10m we would not need to do that yet. The deepening of the Middle Rhine is such a major project, it really needs careful planning and needs to go through several legal stages, one of them being informing the public about the proposals and its potential consequences for those living along the stretch of river. That happened this past Spring.

 

Uffh ((deep breath)), a long post. I hope I have not stretched your patience with that. I opted for the longer explanation, rather than just saying, "they are dredging for much of the year, but haven't got round to doing all of it yet". :classic_biggrin:

 

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11 minutes ago, notamermaid said:

Basically, dredging happens regularly in many parts of the Rhine. You are right, some stretches are notorious. It has been a particularly bad year, so some spots are worse than in past years. The authorities say that the flooding in Summer - which is unusual so late in the year - caused a lot of deposits. The Rhine carries sand and gravel along constantly (obviously all rivers do that), this year it was a lot, partly made worse by the constant "ploughing" of ship propellers. It is deposited in other places, well-known to the authorities usually, and when the water goes down, first the current stops shifting so much material (the propellers continue of course), then when it gets as low as now, those new deposits pose a danger. As this process was in July rather than in April or May, they are lagging behind in dredging. So, now in October a tanker got stuck at the Hagenbacher Grund last week. It had already been flagged to river traffic as a shallow, but the accident happened nevertheless. We can reasonably assume that the Viking Sigrun got stuck at least partly because of the shifted gravel due to the rescue operation of that tanker (which had been freed in the meantime). Then, as we know, another tanker got stuck next to the Viking Sigrun and the rest of the story is in the other thread.

 

For the maintenance of the navigation channel the authorities have several ships, One of them is the surveying vessel equipped with sonar, the Peilschiff "Mercator". It looks like this: https://www.wsa-rhein.wsv.de/Webs/WSA/Rhein/DE/Rhein/Zahlen_und_Daten/Wasserfahrzeuge/PS_Mercator.html

It creates images of the ground in the navigation channel but can also detect objects like lost anchors and cars.

 

For the Middle Rhine the problem is a larger one, as the dredging helps with the deposits but there are also rocks. A long term solution is needed for better traffic flow throughout the year. For the future it is planned to deepen the Middle Rhine valley from the desired 1.90m to 2.10m. Those extra 20 centimetres are difficult to achieve but will make a great difference for the industry. Translated to river cruising it could mean that when this has happened far fewer days will potentially be lost during drought. Or specifically when we look at this year, right now, we are close to a 135m ship not being able to sail near Kaub and start wondering if that will happen. It could be close. If the channel was 2.10m we would not need to do that yet. The deepening of the Middle Rhine is such a major project, it really needs careful planning and needs to go through several legal stages, one of them being informing the public about the proposals and its potential consequences for those living along the stretch of river. That happened this past Spring.

 

Uffh ((deep breath)), a long post. I hope I have not stretched your patience with that. I opted for the longer explanation, rather than just saying, "they are dredging for much of the year, but haven't got round to doing all of it yet". :classic_biggrin:

 

notamermaid

 

 

 

Thank you so much for the detailed response!!
You’ve been a big help over the years, and we appreciate you! 👏👏👍

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No real change in water level. There is a promise of a rise at Maxau hanging in the air, well, in the online graph. Come Monday, we should see a good rise which is good for the Upper Rhine valley, where as we have seen, the situation is not that great, but not dire yet. It will ease it a bit. For the Middle Rhine valley we do need rain very soon, here it is more critical. If it rains enough, a rise will quickly follow at Kaub after Maxau has improved. A probability chart suggests over 100 in a few days time. That would be enough to put river cruisers at ease. We will see on Monday how this progresses.

 

Unfortunately, there has been another accident. Late Wednesday night, the A-Rosa Flora hit a docked maintenance unit at Dinslaken on the Lower Rhine (kilometre 798). That boat was marked with a small warning sign boat (a bit bigger than a buoy) so the hazard was clearly signed. One passenger was injured but could be treated on the scene. The 114 passengers were able to leave the ship at Duisburg. Their river cruise was cut short, the ship has sailed to the Netherlands for repairs as they are too major (photo suggests the radar unit at the bow is down). An online German cruise report site says that A-Rosa has offered the passengers a free repeat river cruise or any five day river cruise on another river. The A-Rosa Flora will return to service on 5 November.

 

notamermaid

 

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Kaub gauge now stands at 77cm. While it has rained in the Upper Rhine valley enough to raise the level at Maxau several centimetres, it is never a given to happen subsequently in the Rhine Gorge. For tomorrow and into Tuesday we can expect the low level at Kaub to continue, perhaps drop a little further. Then, early on Wednesday this should reverse and hopefully we will see figures going into the 90s during the evening.

 

It is a dry but cloudy day today.

 

Today and tomorrow are the public holidays Reformationstag (Protestant) and Allerheiligen (Catholic). A bit confusing for the uninformed traveller as one holiday is observed in one state but not in another! With Reformationstag being on a Sunday the effect is not so great, but tomorrow Rhineland-Palatinate people will certainly hop in their cars and drive over the boundary into Hesse for a nice day of shopping.

 

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It has been raining in the valley and here in the Middle Rhine valley it is drizzly today. The temperatures are still pleasant and a bit too warm for the beginning of November.

 

At Kaub the level stands at 78cm and the forecast suggests we are now at the beginning of the steady upwards direction on the graph. In the hope that this is the end of real low water and that we will see improved levels of over 90cm (which is still low but not a problem for river cruise ships) throughout November (no guarantee ever) let us say that this was close. By that I mean very slow sailing through the Rhine Gorge and dreaded ship swaps or even cancellations have just been avoided - shout please if you were affected nevertheless.

 

We still have the bottleneck near Karlsruhe but this should go soon with all the digging going on and the risen levels at Iffezheim and Maxau - currently at 404cm at the latter gauge - show that much rain has improved the situation there, too.

 

So let us move on to happy topics and look at nature, landscape, villages and towns along the river again.

 

I will soon post my promised report on the trip to a castle for "coffee and cake", but please do join in, do not let this turn into a monologue of mine 😀.

 

Any spooky photos of castles in autumn fog to share? Unusual excursions you enjoyed? Or just getting excited about your Christmas market cruise like a boy on his way to the model railway exhibition 🚂?

 

notamermaid

 

 

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6 hours ago, beardedshark said:

Properly excited as cruise due in 2 days time, having had 3 cancelled over covid. 

Time to finally get back to river and ocean then. :classic_smile: Hope everything goes according to plan. Good to read actually that your river cruise company informed you about potential problems due to low water, better to know what to expect even if the risk is not so great now. I am confident about the river levels being okay. But the bottleneck at Karlsruhe will still be there during your itinerary if I have calculated your days of travelling correctly.

 

Have a great time on the river.

 

notamermaid

 

P.S.: Kaub definitely on the upward trend, now at 84cm.

 

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