Skipper: Werner and René
Crew: Beni, René, Hermann and Rolf
We were ecstatic that we managed to snag the last leg of the Rolling Swiss II tour from
Karlsruhe to Basel. Coming Home! We imaged that the trip would be fantastic,
but, how often in life does one get something other than what one expects. As
it was for mercenaries, coming home was always more difficult than the draw of
Restlessly! On Friday 2nd. November 2012 we drove from Zürich to Karlsruhe, where we had a booked room waiting. We had already seen on “Yellowbrick” that Rolling Swiss II
is ready in Maxau harbor.
During the first telephone conversation with the boat, our illusion was shattered. The
boat was lying in port in Maxau, but the previous crew had driven over a groyne
just before entering Maxau. (The groynes are engineering works sticking out at
right angles to the shore).
A short time later the harbor diver reported that both propellers were jagged and two of the blades on the starboard propeller were bent. Onward travel was not possible.
That evening came the news that, replacement props would arrive from Holland,
that a crane was booked and on Monday morning the props would be swopped over. We could leave for Basel immediately after that.
On Monday midday we drove in convoy to the lift point. Being the largest boat we were
last, of course. Then the next surprise came. The crane was rated to 14 Tons
according to CCS. In truth, fully loaded we were 20 Tons. So instead of the
boat going forward to be lifted, the crane went back. The crane disappeared to
locate all the other boats on dry land. And finally came back in the evening.
18 Tons extra was bought on a trailer and attached to the back of the crane.
For better traction, the lifting rope was changed by putting the rope around
the roller 5 times instead of 3. And a larger hook was fitted. Only in the
evening could the boat be lifted, the props replaced and the boat returned to
the water. Fortunately there was no damage to the hull; otherwise the trip
would have been abruptly stopped here in Karlsruhe.
On Tuesday morning, three days late, we left on the second high water. (The Rhine is only
navigable by boats with a radio, top speed 20 km/h). With moderate traffic, with
overtaking freighters, signs, direction changes and respectable distance from
barges we reach the first of the two Rhine locks, at Iffezheim (Film 1)
Gambsheim and at midday the Kehl marina.
A quick aperitif from the pretty harbor landlady and then finally we
drove by taxi into the Strasbourg old town and had dinner in a wine bar.
The next day we navigated the Strasbourg Lock (Film 2). Gerstheim, Rhinau and Marckolsheim then on to Breisach. We arrived shortly before dusk at the Breisach Motor-Yacht Club. After a short tour of this noble riverside city we completely spoilt ourselves at the Kapuzinergarten.
Early the next morning, just after dawn, we set off from Breisach, through the lock at
Vogelgrun. After a short time we were engulfed by a sticky fog with visibility
less than 100m. It’s a somewhat different feeling from being at sea. Of course,
the AIS system on the Rolling, on which we could see large riverboats, had not
been working since Holland. Going back was not an option. Our sea radar screen
in the large cake box also helped little. It usually only shows dots, not clear
obstacles or vessels on the Rhine. Luckily there were no more groynes in this
area, so in the old fashioned way, with a lookout watching and listening
forward and aft and with reduced speed, and keeping the starboard side close to
the shore we reached the Fessenheim lock. At Fessenheim it brightened up again
so we could pass the nuclear power station to starboard undamaged. Thankfully
we progressed and reached the Ott-marsheim Lock and Kembs Lock and then the
promised goal, the Region Basel port.
Having only just arrived in Basel, I needed to contact the Customs, where they told me,
rather embarrassedly, that, because we have so many permits for Rolling Swiss
II (Passenger rides, Winter Camps, Harbor tours, Demonstration rides, VAT,
customs duty, etc.). I would have to leave a deposit in the tens of thousands.
A final surprise was waiting for us at the company Satram-Huiles SA, at the corner of
the three countries where we wanted to fuel up. From preliminary research done
well beforehand, we understood that, with booking one day in advance, one could
fuel up a recreational motor boat with diesel. But, when we actually came to
fuel up, we were told that, in Basel (Switzerland) one could only fill up if
there is a return circulation system fitted for spilled fuel, which of course,
we didn’t have. We always knew that here in Switzerland they take environmental
protection very seriously.
Well then, Job done, Rolling Swiss II was now in its home Port Basel (Film 4) and is
available for and will be visited often.
To end with; because only six members had the privilege of navigating the ten Rhine locks.
Our crew member, Rolf, has made a DVD, so that everyone can get a good idea
what it is like to navigate the Rhine Locks. The film can be retrieved off the
CCS website, see page “Clubleben”
With friendly greetings from the Rhine