The Rivers Saar, Moselle and Rhine in Germany


(Some photo's thumbnails, click to enlarge)


Some members of the NBAS asked me to write a little report on boating in Germany. So I will do. But at first let me explain that I am a beginner in boating. In May 2003 I bought my Norman 20 “SILKE” in SAARBRÜCKEN at the Saar. I found her on a site of the internet and fell in love with this nice little boat.


But how to get the boat homewards was the first question - by a trailer or on the waterways. The decision was not easy for a beginner like me. Suddenly I had the great idea. I remembered a friend of mine who was a skipper. His name was Uwe. So I asked him if he would be so kind to accompany me on my first trip. He said yes and now the “adventure” began.


At first I had to buy books about the Saar, the Moselle and the Rhine for information about the waterways from SAARBRÜCKEN to OBERWINTER at the Rhine. Both, Uwe and I were very astonished about the distance of nearly 335 km and the 16 locks we had to pass. Nevertheless the decision was clear and so we started our trip on Saturday 24th of May 2003 at 1:30 p.m. in SAARBRÜCKEN.



On the map you can see the whole waterway from SAARBRÜCKEN to OBERWINTER:


88 km on the Saar with 6 locks

201 km on the Moselle with 10 locks

46 km on the Rhine with 0 locks


From SAARBRÜCKEN we had to go 3 km to the first lock. That was our test. Neither Uwe nor I had never passed a lock before. We only knew what to do from our course of instruction. “SILKE” was not equipped with a radio. So we had to contact the operator of the lock by handy. He was very friendly and helpful as we told him, that we are beginners and never passed a lock before. We passed without any problems. The fears we had were quite unnecessary and we were very proud about this event.


The scenery of the next part of the trip on the Saar to the marina of MERZIG was very ugly. All around industrial buildings and steel producing factories and we had to be careful about a lot of drifting things in the water. Uwe and I were very happy as we landed in MERZIG at 5.30 p.m.



The harbourmaster in MERZIG gives instructions to me.


In MERZIG we have had electricity, freshwater and recently built bathrooms and toilets. Everything was very clean and nice to look at. After cleaning up the boat we went into the nearby brewery and had some fresh beer and a delicious meal. Suddenly a thunderstorm came up with a very strong wind. Light things were flying around in the air. We feared that “SILKE” would be damaged. But what a luck nothing happened to her. After all that we were tired and have had a good first night on “SILKE”.


On Sunday the 25th of May at 10.30 a.m. we left MERZIG for the last 44 km on the Saar. This part of the Saar is really very nice to look at. The highlight is the so-called “Saarschleife”. It’s a turn of nearly 180 degrees. On both sides of the river are wooded hills.



At the beginning of the “Saarschleife”


At 2.00 p.m. we reached the km-point 0 of the Saar where the river flows into the Moselle on the Moselle-km-point 201. From here we had to go 201 km on the Moselle.


But now I have to explain another thing. It seemed to us that the former owner of “SILKE” didn’t like boating at higher speeds. He had mounted two sheets of metal at the stern for trimming the boat for lower speeds. The effect of this construction was a max. speed of 7 kn by only 30 % of power (without these sheets of metal “SILKE” runs more than 20 kn). If we gave more power the bow of “SILKE” would begin to dive into the water. That doesn’t matter on the Saar because the max. speed allowed was 6.5 kn. But on the Moselle and also on the Rhine you have no general speed limits. And so we had to go on slowly.


At Moselle-km 200 we landed at the marina of KONZ for a little break. We had had a cup of coffee in the nice skipper-bar of the “Wassersportclub Konz” and had a talk with the skippers. At 3.00 p.m. we left KONZ to go to PÖLICH at km-point 169.

PÖLICH was the most beautiful marina we had seen on this trip. The harbourmaster, a very friendly woman welcomes us and showed us a mooring for the boat. I asked her if she would be so kind to take me to a petrol station to fill up our three petrol containers. She did so.

After refuelling the boat we started for a little walk along the bank of the Moselle. The scenery along the Moselle is one of the most famous winegrowing regions in Germany. All around were vineyards. No wonder that the harbourmaster was a professional winegrower. As we left PÖLICH the next day the harbourmaster presented us a gift-box with three bottles of a very fine Moselle-wine.


We left PÖLICH at 10.30 a.m. with destination COCHEM at km-point 51. On this part of the trip we had to pass 6 locks. Compared with the Saar, the locks of the Moselle have a little lock for sporting boats. You have to operate them yourself. But that’s not a problem. There are three switches: one for up and down the next for start and stop and the last one is an emergency-stop-switch. I don’t know how it is in England but normally here in Germany you don’t have to pay for using the locks.



On the Moselle



Uwe is making a photo at the lock of ST. ALDEGUND


A very nice little village we passed is BERNKASTEL-KUES at km-point 129. The official homepage describes:


“You can see and experience a lot in Bernkastel-Kues. It is particularly famous for its unique market square and the many well preserved half-timbered houses. Bernkastel-Kues is the centre of the Middle Moselle. Its unmistakeable identity arises out of the multiplicity of its attractions: its culture, its history, the high quality of its inns and the variety of its touristic surroundings.”



BERNKASTEL-KUES at the Moselle surrounded by famous vineyards




And here are two more impressions about BERNKASTEL-KUES:


At 7.40 p.m. we landed at COCHEM which is also a very famous town at the Moselle. But what a horrible harbour. No electricity, no freshwater, no toilets and no bathroom. But we had to pay 6.96 € for one night. I told the harbourmaster that this is piracy. He answered that the officials don’t want to have sporting boats in COCHEM. Isn’t it a friendly town? OK, so I will never visit COCHEM again. But as a compensation for all these troubles my wife Birgit and our girlfriend Angelika came to visit us with a very delicious meal this evening.


On the 27th of May at 8.10 a.m. we started our last part of the trip. The last 51 km on the Moselle are just as nice as the 150 km we have passed. The scenery is dominated by wooded hills or vineyards sometimes interrupted by villages or little towns. Then we reached the city of KOBLENZ where the Moselle flows into the Rhine.


The official homepage of KOBLENZ told us:

“Caught in-between the picturesque landscape of the Rhine and Moselle and surrounded by four low mountain ranges is the 2000year old town of Koblenz. Its abundance of cultural monuments and historical buildings, the cosy little lanes and alleyways, the relaxed and happy atmospheres of its squares and river promenades make Koblenz a sympathetic town where its guests feel right at home.
The view from high (118 metres) above the Rhine at Ehrenbreitstein Fortress across to the "Deutsches Eck" (German Corner) with its re-erected monument, the "Reiterdenkmal". A meeting point for visitors from all over the world who are on their way to discover the fascinating landscape between the Rhine and Moselle.

Koblenz was given its name by the Romans with the construction of "Castellum apud Confluentes". Visitors on the trail of Koblenz´s past, find themselves caught up in the history of a town which over the centuries was captured by the Franconia’s, chosen by dukes (electoral princes) as residence, occupied by the French and ruled by Prussia. A truly European place.”

Blick auf Festung Ehrenbreitstein und Deutsches Eck - Foto: Frey Pressebild

The city of KOBLENZ where the Moselle flows into the Rhine.

 In the foreground you can see “Ehrenbreitstein Fortress” and in the centre

of the picture is the “Deutsches Eck” with the monument of “Kaiser Wilhelm”


The Saar and also the Moselle are flowing very slowly, but not the Rhine. His speed is between 4 to 6 km/h and he sometimes has waves with a height of nearly one meter. We had to be careful about this. The water splashed high above the boat and we had problems to look forward. The Rhine is a river with a lot of traffic. You will find big freighters, sometimes more than 250 meters long (max. allowed are 270 meters) and passenger ships. At km-point 636 we came to the so-called “Unkel-Stein”. At the Unkel-Stein the Rhine is very deep. The echo-sounder told us 15 meters and more. But there are also very high waves – nearly 1.5 meters. The reason of these high waves are some big rocks at the bottom of the Rhine which make some strong vertical rotations of the water. We became frightened  about the waves. The bow of “SILKE” twice completely dived below the surface. But nothing more happened. The boat managed this difficult part very well. Only 5 km ahead was our destination. We put into OBERWINTER at 3.00 p.m. So my first boating trip came to end.


I would express my great appreciation to Uwe who was a very helping hand to me.


At last I will give you some information about boating in Germany. I think this will be helpful for everyone who wants to make a trip in Germany.


The important rule in the difference to the English rules is that you can go on each side of the rivers. You are not forced to go on the right or left side. You can go where ever you want. But you have to make way to all other vehicles, no matter if there is a sailing vessel, a freighter or a passengership in front of or coming up on you.


And here some useful links:     (electronic waterway information system)  (information about the rivers in the southwest of Germany)  (petrol stations in Germany)  (information about the Rhine)  (weather report)


I hope this report about my first trip was a little bit interesting to you.


Andreas alias Störtebecker