After a peaceful night at the lock at Kelheim, we were ready to go by about 08:30. As we needed to get through the lock, we had to wait for some traffic. This soon arrived, in the form of ‘Isabell’, a 110m barge. We crept in behind her and down we went. We reached the end of the Main-Donau-Kanal, which effectively ends in a T-junction with the Danube, at 09:45. The kilometre mark at the point where we joined the Danube is 2411km, which will count down as we cross Europe and reach 0km at the Black Sea.
There is a marina very close to here and our water supply was running low, so we thought we’d pop in and top up if possible. Marina Saal is possibly the largest marina we’ve seen since being inland and looked quite smart.
We duly found a guest spot and I headed up to the office to broker a deal. I was greeted by a very friendly young man, who said it was fine to fill our tanks, didn’t charge us and gave me two bottles of cold beer to boot! We were feeling pretty good as we left the marina and headed back onto the river.
Our ground speed was significantly higher on the Donau than it had been on the canal section due to the downstream flow, so we made good progress. We had to get through the first two locks on the Donau which didn’t cause us any great problems, despite some confusion at Schleuse Regensberg where we were told we had to wait for a passenger ship only to be sent in alone with the passenger ship łeft waiting at the dock. No idea what was going on there.
The locks on the Main and MDK where we have moored before had a tiny lock for small leisure craft with the approach being separated from the main one by a pier section. This made a good mooring place as you were completely around the corner from the main approach and protected from swell from large vessels. The Donau locks are different. A couple have a waiting place for small boats just cut out from the main approach where its OK to stay overnight, but for most there is no option for overnight mooring. Schleuse Giesling had a ‘waiting place’ which we arrived at shortly before 5pm and made secure for the night. The river is much wider than we had been used to previously and a squally wind made for some fairly uncomfortable waves for a couple of hours. Thankfully, this did settle down and we were OK for the night.
We were up early again the next morning and through the lock before 08:30.
Despite the wind and rain the previous evening, it was warm and sunny again. By mid-afternoon, we reached the town of Deggendorf which has a reasonably sized harbour with guest moorings and a town close-by. We had a few errands which meant being close to a town would be useful, so stopped here. The boat club was pleasant and we were waved in and helped with lines as we arrived. There is a slightly odd arrangement with leaving the club to get into town. You have to climb a ladder over the harbour wall and cross a railway line. This is also necessary to access the shower building which appears to be at the bottom of someones garden, although it was pristine.
We managed to get a few groceries and sort out a problem with Cy’s sim card, but there isn’t masses at Deggensdorf so we planned to head out reasonably promptly the next morning.
The early morning fuel run was given an added element of fun by having to lower the jerry cans down from the harbour wall on a rope and once this was accomplished, we were off.
We had hoped to spend the night at the mooring quay of a restaurant/inn which welcomes boaters, but being a sunny Sunday afternoon and us passing at lunchtime, there was no space. We thought it might be nice to wait around just in case, and as the river was wide enough, we anchored for a while outside of the main channel.
We chilled out for a while until I discovered that one of our water tanks was empty. As we had very recently filled it, this suggested a problem. End of chill out. On investigation, it was not too serious. We have flexible water tanks and they seemed to have a lot of air inside. Not a major issue, but good to be aware of as availability of water will reduce as we travel further downstream as there are less amenities, so we need to be filling to maximum capacity when we can.
It was still looking like no room at the inn, so we carried on to the next mooring, which was a boat club outside of Passau. We managed to squeeze into a space in the entrance to the harbour. It wasn’t ideal as it was only 1.3 metres deep and the movement of water from large passing vessels threw us about a fair bit, however, it was a friendly welcome and the price was reasonable. After a bit of tidying up and maintenance, we headed out to stretch our legs. The small village of Heining has a supermarket and a bakery, which I sized up for a visit the following morning. We also found a great looking Mexican restaurant. We hadn’t intended to eat out, but the place looked so inviting and it was our last night in Germany…
After dinner, we joined a bunch of regulars at the boat club for a beer and a natter. Once again, we were able to glean some useful advice for the next stage of our trip.
Another early start for us the next day. I’ve never been a morning person, but have surprised myself (and Cy) by being unusually chipper after an early alarm. Groceries, filling water tanks and a visit to the boat yard were all accomplished in time for us to depart before 10am. To be fair, we didnt get far, just across the river to the lock waiting pontoon, where we had breakfast whilst waiting. We then passed through the town of Passau, which is a busy one on the river cruise itinery. Unsurprising, as it looked beautiful.
Not far after the lock, the border between Austria and Germany follows the river, which led to a bit of confusion regarding courtesy flag etiquette. We decided to leave the German one up until the next lock, which is on the German side. After that, the border with Germany heads north, away from the river, so at this point the Austrian one went up. If anyone has any useful advice on courtesy flags and river boundaries, it would be very gratefully received!
Austria made an impression almost immediately. The natural beauty of the Danube here is breathtaking in places. We were blessed with sunshine and blue skies which always helps, but the sparkling waters and wooded hills really were splendid. We stopped for the day at Schlogen, which is essentially just a harbour and a campsite, but it is located on a S shaped loop of the river which is spectacular when viewed from above.
I did this climb by myself, as poor Cy was a bit stuck with engine maintenance and internet ordering of further spares. However, it was a beautiful location, even at water level and watching the barges essentially handbrake turning around the bend was fascinating.
During the course of a chat with a fellow boater, I asked if they knew of any free moorings further along the river. Maybe some suitable anchorages, or at any of the locks? I was met with a pretty horrified ‘no’. Perhaps Austria is not going to be the cheapest section of our journey…..