We took full advantage of being at the boat club at Lohr prior to leaving and showered, emptied rubbish and recycling and filled with water before departing at around 09:30. We passed through four locks during the course of the day, all with the same barge. If you can keep up with a barge, it is a good way of minimising lock delays. Usually, our speed isn’t enough, but today we followed ‘Cyrano’ for the duration. We stopped for the night at an old loading quay, conveniently located next to a supermarket. Not the prettiest mooring spot, but functional and free! We were passed several times by a police boat having a good look, but they didn’t stop. Two men arrived by car in the evening and were looking around and measuring until well after dark. They told Cy that the site would be developed as a marina at some point.
Diesel and groceries were the first order of the day on Thursday morning and we headed off about 09:30. The first lock of the day was Wurzberg and it was in the middle of the town, just under a bridge with some rather imposing statues. We hadn’t called on the VHF however the lock was being held, with a cruise boat in it, for us! The lock keeper sounded very friendly.
The rest of the day went fairly smoothly, although there was some confused radio instructions with one of the locks. A very helpful officer on a passenger ship called us up to translate the information. Lots of information we have read describes crews of passenger ships as being potentially difficult and unhelpful, but this has not been our experience at all. Whenever we have shared locks or passed on the canal, they have so far, always been considerate. We caught up with this particular vessel, Serenade 2, later on in the day when we moored at the town quay in Kitzingen.
Kitzingen is another lovely town in Bavaria. The evening stayed warm and we enjoyed supper on deck. Some of the crew and passengers from the cruise ship called by to say hello. It is a UK based tour operator so the British passengers recognised our Welsh country flag we have on the front of the boat, as well as the ensign on the back. Actually, the ensign is a bit unusual on inland waterways and several people have asked about it as it is different from the normal Union Jack.
In the morning, the Dutch captain of Serenade 2, Hank, called by for a chat. He was a lot of fun but also really interesting to talk to about his career and experiences on the rivers and time working at sea. It was a great start to our day. It was busy on the river with lots of commercial traffic about. We left at around 09:30 and Serenade 2 was due to leave at 2pm, we had joked with Hank that they would overtake us later in the day, and sure enough they did.
We arrived in the town of Schweinfurt at around 19:30 after a long, hot day and tied up on the town quay. I had heard reports of a mooring charge of 10 Euros here, which is unusual for this type of berth as there are no facilities, just a quay and some bollards. In order to try and avoid this, we headed out for a bevvie and didn’t return until after 10pm. I hoped that if we headed off bright and early the following morning, we might get away with it. Alas not. Shortly after 11, there was a knock from a stern lady wanting the 10 Euros. The upside of this was that the noisy youths in the park disappeared when she arrived.
Our intended destination the next day was Bamberg. The day passed relatively smoothly, a few waits for locks, but nothing too bad.
We entered our last lock of the day (Viereth) just before 5pm. It was not only the last one of the day, but the last one on the River Main before the start of the Main-Donau-Kanal. As soon as our lines were secure, the heavens opened. It had a been a nice day until this point but going up in a lock during the mother of all storms is not the most fun I’ve ever had. We chugged out dejectedly, and started looking for a mooring. There were a couple of boat clubs in the next few kilometres, but nothing with enough space for us.
In the rain and with failing light we were getting a bit fed up and decided to turn around and head back to the lock for the night. This turned out to be an absolutely superb decision. The Motorboot und Wasserski Club Bamberg, located directly next to the lock, proved to be one of our favourite stops of the entire trip so far. We were waved in and helped to tie up by Eric, the club chairman. When we asked about fees, he said we would talk later, after beer, and we should join them as there would be a crowd watching the football (Champions League final, I think). By this time the rain had finally stopped and life was looking better. We were just in the process of having a tidy up and starting to think about dinner, when someone called over and explained that they were ordering pizzas if we wanted one. Beer and pizza sounded like a great idea.
It ended up being a great night. Eric gave us a club flag, and in exchange, Cy gave him one of our Welsh courtesy flags. We also met Uwe and his wife Gaby who had brought their boat on a trailer from Aschaffenberg and were making the return trip along the river over the next couple of weeks. The company was great and although we had intended to leave the next morning, we were persuaded to stay a day longer to join in a boat launch party the next day. As this involved sausages and beer, Cy was hardly likely to decline. We staggered off to bed (no idea who won the football) feeling jolly happy and looking forward to the next day.
It was raining fairly heavily on Sunday morning, and it was quite nice to know we weren’t heading off so it didn’t matter. The skies did clear by 11 o’clock, which was the time everything was due to start. A crowd assembled by the new boat, champagne was poured, speeches were made and the new boat received a thorough dedication. We then moved to the clubhouse where a fabulous meal of Weisswurst (Bavarian white sausage with sweet mustard) and white beer were served. There was plenty of freshly cooked bread rolls and cheeses, so I was well catered for too. The ‘breakfast’ went on until well into the afternoon. Homemade cakes were served with coffee afterwards. Schnapps was produced and Cy rushed off to get some whiskey to offer up into the mix. It was at this point when Fritz, who is 90, uttered the wise words ‘alles kaput’.
A bit of a post-breakfast nap was had by all, and then beer around a fire pit as the sun set. What a brilliant day.
We will remain forever grateful for the warm welcome and generous hospitality we received at the club, and especially to Eric. It turns out they have a partner club outside Vienna, so we shall aim to call in there too.