Friday 26th was another early start. Stocking up on groceries and diesel fell to me, while Cy took advantage of the fact that we had internet at the boat club to look up information regarding water levels and flow on the rivers. The Main is much less affected than the Danube, but we need to be able to interpret and understand the available information. Apparently, water levels can change overnight on the Danube by as much as 1 metre. There are lots of information sources available – online, phone apps and pegels. Pegels are basically digital information boards at the side of the river which display water height. Although at this point, we were aware of all this in theory, a bit of a refresher seemed like a good idea.
Once ready, we left Mainz Yacht Club, crossed the Rhine and entered the Main. It wasn’t far to the first lock and we timed it well and arrived at the right time to follow in a barge and a passenger ship. This was to be the first of four locks that we went through today. We were lucky and didn’t experience any major delays at any of them. In fact, we were sent through alone at two of them, rather than have to wait for other vessels. There is a fair bit of industry on this section of the Main and I have not yet stopped being amazed at the huge inland docks.
In the afternoon, we passed through the city of Frankfurt. The skyline was fantastic, particularly in the sunshine.
There was a large rowing competition going on so there was loads of activity along the banks as well.
Being on a large river is very different from the French canal experience, and overnight stops are not quite as easy. We have a comprehensive list of boat clubs and marinas for the whole route, however these are usually designed with smaller vessels in mind. Also, having to pay for a mooring every night is not feasible for us. For this reason, our first night stop on the Main was at a lock. It is not permitted for us to moor in the lock approach itself, however, there is usually an area at the side where a very small lock is situated for little ‘sportsboots’ to use. Some of the locks have a waiting quay area here. At around 5pm, we tied up for the night on the upstream side of Schleusen Offenbach. The wall was suitable and bollards were available. The evening was warm and sunny and we were not disturbed at all.
After a quiet night, we were back on the road before 8:30. The countryside was beginning to change and becoming more green. Some sections were really beautiful.
We went through four locks during the course of the day, with significant waits at some. We stopped at around 7pm on the downstream side of Schelusen Wallstadt. Swifts were flying around the boat and there were plenty of ducks, geese and herons to keep us company. The river Main is 384 km long and has 36 locks. We had covered 100km and 8 locks, not bad.
The next morning, we left around 9am and followed a barge into the first lock. We were now well into Bavaria. We stopped mid-afternoon in the town of Miltenberg. The town has a boat club on one side and a short town quay on the opposite bank for small boats, separate to the larger area for cruise boats. We didn’t fancy our chances getting through the boat club entrance, but there was room for us on the quay. This had the advantage of being free, and also closer to a petrol station and the town itself. The big disadvantage was that being in the river rather than in a harbour, there was a lot more wash from passing boats. Again, the smaller powerboats much more so than the large barges which glide through! Still, we were well fendered, so it was a nuisance rather than a problem, and would not continue into the night.
It was hot again so once we were securely moored, we headed off in search of a local hostelry. Our search was successful. Miltenberg is beautiful, it is a busy stop on the cruise ship itinerary, so has lots of bars, restaurants and ice cream parlours.
We really enjoyed our afternoon here, although we were starting to get a bit low on water, so needed to think about this. We crossed the bridge and went over to have a look at the boat club. We reckoned we could just about squeeze in the entrance, although none of the moorings were suitable. We chatted with the harbour master and arranged that we could tie up in the entrance the following morning to take on water.
It stayed hot well into the afternoon and evening, so following the example of a local teenager, I had a swim in the river. I’m used to swimming in quiet lakes and rivers, so being in the middle of a town with passing boats was a bit different for me, but really enjoyable.
We also located a supermarket, but being a Sunday, we would have to wait until the following morning to avail ourselves.
This we did, bright and early on Monday morning, followed by our water stop and we were on the way again just after 10. It was another scorching day and we trundled on, taking it in turns to drive. I’m reasonably happy at the wheel now, but not so hot at manoeuvring, so I leave that to the expert. Fully stocked with water and provisions meant that another night at a lock would do us fine and we stopped upstream of Schleusen Eichel in the late afternoon.
The night brought a series of spectacular storms. The thunder and lightning went on for hours. Being in a boat in an otherwise quiet spot, we really felt the full force. The thunder sent vibrations through and combined with the ferocity of the rain made for an interesting night. The window in our cabin also developed a leak directly over the bed (Cy’s side).
Despite all the rain in the night, the next day hotted up. We only went through 2 locks and stopped at Lohr. It was a bit of a squeeze but we got into their harbour entrance, helpfully directed by the harbour master.
I had discovered a problem with my camera a couple of days ago and we headed off to find a camera shop. It transpired that a repair is possible, but the camera would need to be sent to the manufacturer which wasn’t really an option for us. In terms of buying another one, they had some, but nothing of similar specs – either too low or too high. I have another camera, so not the end of the world, but I particularly like the one I had been using. We managed to do some other bits and pieces of shopping in the town before returning to Doris to cook dinner. Unfortunately, the stove fuel ran out. This cannot be refilled until it cools down so we abandoned dinner and went to a bar instead. Beer, wine, chips and wifi!
As we arrived back at the boat club, we met a great couple – Werner and Iris and their son Fabio. They were both lawyers and are in the processing of renovating their boat, which is an old river patrol boat. We spent a while chatting, and were sorry we hadn’t met them earlier in the evening as it would have been good to spend more time in their company. Part of the fun of travelling definitely seems to be engaging with people, whether it be getting a wave from a fisherman or an in-depth discussion about politics!