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Rhine water levels 2021 and similar topics


notamermaid
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Greetings from the Rhine valley. Here is the thread for 2021 for everything related to the water levels of the Rhine and bits of information on the river.

 

Things are quiet along the river, even barges and tankers are not sailing for much of its length as flooding has halted shipping. The weather is mild but wintery. Rain and some snow in the hills are with us on most days and have made the river rise to unpleasant levels.

 

Through the year we will look at the river's levels and what else may be happening that could be of interest to river cruisers. Join us again with your comments and hopefully as we make our way into Spring and Summer we will hear of river cruises actually happening.

 

Where ever your trips may take you this year  - safe travels.

 

notamermaid

 

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Thank you so much for this thread. I may not be travelling, this summer anyway,  on that beautiful river but I shall read your posts with interest. Much appreciate your comments and insights; it’s a pleasure to read and I look forward to new entries.  BTW: You are a great writer! 🙂🧐

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@Bake apple Thank you for your kind words, you are making me blush. I am happy to read that you enjoy following along even though you will not be travelling on the river.

 

I do hope the season for river cruising can start as planned but it is looking not too good for the first sailings. One may say the season starts in earnest around 20 March but early sailings have become more frequent in recent years. A-ROSA will start on 8 March if they are allowed to.

 

Currently the lock down restrictions mean that no leisure stay is permitted in accommodation in Germany and border crossings are restricted so no river cruise is really possible. But the companies stay confident up to the last minute and you can book even the sailings in February with Viva Cruises. That company offers short trips in Germany, but I doubt the sailings will go ahead. Such Winter itineraries are unusual but in past years they have been offered by a Swiss company to go with the Carnival celebrations in the Basel area. Those I cannot find on the website this year, presumably because Switzerland also likely has a ban on Carnival celebrations like we do, even if ships are allowed to sail. I have not looked into the Swiss rules.

 

This is where we stand right now.

 

River commercial traffic has resumed as far down as to Bonn and Cologne looks to follow around this hour. The river levels are going down well as there is little rain now and snow is not melting in these cold daytime temperatures.

 

notamermaid

 

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A glimmer of normal cruising life on the river 

 

Imagine my surprise last night when I saw a blue spot appearing as an arrow on marine traffic.com It was not a ferry, but a river cruise ship sailing. The MS Annabelle, a new ship sailing for Phoenix Reisen, is on a test run presumably, destination Basel. She will transfer to the Rhone soon to replace the Swiss Gloria there.

 

But other ships will come to the Rhine, or rather they are already on the Rhine/Waal, like the new AmaSiena and the brand new AmaLucia, for example, getting ready to sail along the canals and up the river. While it is not normal for them to be deployed on the German market, other ships new and old will hopefully sail on their regular itineraries and give us a Spring that will be better than last year's. 

 

Right now the lock down in Germany lasts till 7 March, which rules out the February sailings I had mentioned previously. A-ROSA still plans to start soon after that. But there is a high probability that this will not work.

 

Other news along the river are the "new" ports waiting for river cruise ships and a changing infrastructure for commercial traffic on the river and over it. But those only as side notes.

 

Something that I am pleased about is the variety of excursions that are now available for many areas of interest and ability as regards being mobile and active. Still, there is always room for improvement and I look forward to reading your more unusual port stops and excursions. If I see something in the brochures and on websites that catches my eye, I will post it. Oh, and there is a Viking ship on the Rhine that is allowed to sail. But that is a story for another day.

 

notamermaid

 

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The Viking ship allowed to sail the river at this time despite restrictions, is one that does not sleep passengers in cabins but does provide a small home for the weary crew. Introducing...

 

the Viking Orvar:

 

The tug and bush boat is a helping hand for Viking, to move landing stages but also has already lent a hand to other contractors for moving equipment along the river. It was built in 2019 in the Lux-Werft shipyard at Mondorf, that is at Rhine kilometre 660 and is 27.3m long and 6m wide. For those interested in technical descriptions and story details, here is a German webpage to read or translate: https://binnenschifffahrt-online.de/2019/12/schiffstechnik/12041/

 

notamermaid

 

 

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Let us have a quick look at the water levels on the Rhine:

 

Maxau 486cm

Kaub 214cm

Koblenz 224cm

 

These are all just a little below the mean, so this is very good for river cruising. If we could start the season normally. At the moment, this looks unlikely to happen. Even sailing within a country looks unlikely.

 

Throughout the year I will post those three gauging station figures as they are very good indicators for the situation as regards unimpeded sailing. Maxau is in the Upper Rhine valley, Kaub and Koblenz are in the Middle Rhine valley. In flooding, the situation at Koblenz can be seen a day or two later at Cologne and further North, therefore I only post figures from the Lower Rhine valley occasionally when they are exceptional. In drought, the Lower Rhine is usually fine even when the situation is not so good in the Middle Rhine valley. Kaub is right in the famous Rhine Gorge with all the castles and is the marker for the notorious stretch prone to low water issues when they happen.

 

notamermaid

 

 

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It has been cooler this week and the last three nights were relatively cold, in the minus Celsius even in the valley. The days have been somewhat sunny though. Spring is on its way, nature clearly says so, the trees are budding, a few even blooming.

 

Life is slowly returning and social life is increasing, but there are no excursion boats or river cruise ships on the river in France or Germany. Switzerland allows them so one ship is doing overnight round-trips from Basel.

 

I long to be on the river, so I have decided to use a ferry instead of a bridge to cross "my" river when it is next convenient. It would give me six minutes of a different perspective on the valley.

 

Here is a nice article for some Sunday afternoon reading and dreaming of travel. A trip to Alsace from the National Geographic: https://www.nationalgeographic.co.uk/travel/2021/03/a-culinary-guide-to-alsace-france

 

notamermaid

 

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300-year-old ship returns... to Düsseldorf!

 

In 2009, during building works at the embankment, a flat-bottomed ship was found in Kaiserswerth (Düsseldorf). The remains were a sensation as they proofed the existence of the harbour being there at Kaiserswerth. The ships were used for transporting goods further, the larger ships could not sail due to gravel deposits in the area. This is what they found: https://www.spektrum.de/news/300-jahre-altes-plattbodenschiff/1001274

 

another photo of ship and nearby walls of a fortification: http://www.archaeologie.de/portfolio/duesseldorf-kaiserswerth/

 

The wood had to be carefully preserved and was taken to Northern Germany for that. After ten years of restoration, the hull has been returned to Düsseldorf. The ship type is also called "Nachen", some are small enough to even maneouvre town streets in flooding. It is not clear yet when and how the hull will be reassembled and exhibited, it may be in the maritime museum or on a ship that has enough indoor space. This is the general info on the museum: https://www.duesseldorf-tourismus.de/en/attractions/schifffahrtsmuseum-maritime-museum-8053d1977f

 

notamermaid

 

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It has been raining heavily in the last few days. Today I just managed to avoid a short hailstorm - I was about to go shopping.

 

The rain is presumed to be the reason for a large landslide that occurred in the Middle Rhine valley this morning. Don't worry, the Lorelei rock is still there. It was at Kestert and looks to be the hill next to the hill that Burg Maus (Mouse Castle) is on. It was filmed:

https://www.swr.de/swraktuell/rheinland-pfalz/koblenz/erdrutsch-kestert-100.html

 

The road B42 is closed for safety reasons but the railway line is truly unusable. The problem: the railway line there is one of the busiest in Europe, a major thoroughfare South to North. All trains now have to go via the left bank.

 

notamermaid

 

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Yup we’ve had some rather weird weather short sharp hail storms (really small hail) then short waves of sleet. I suppose I’ll get Ito trouble for this but I find Accuweather kept up with the unpredictability really well, they also have an arthritis report which I find very useful. CA

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I like AccuWeather but for the really regional I check the DWD (German weather service) radar images. As I am more in a town environment I normally do not mind the weather being unpredictable. Yesterday was a bit much though, trying to find a time frame for 10 minute outdoor work and missing it three times kind of got on my nerves and I was starting to feel the wet conditions. I have not looked at the bio weather info - the health stuff - on AccuWeather yet. Thanks for the info.

 

Getting that hill secure will be quite a task, I reckon this will run into weeks, it looks a lot of rubble. Depending on severity some stabilizing steel and concrete may be needed.

 

If I find time soon I will go and have a look at the hill.

 

Snow is forecast for the hills tomorrow, the valley below 200m will see rain.

 

notamermaid

 

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When they find these rotten hulks I find it amazing that the outline of the vessel is still visible even when everything around is there and some has completely rotted away. The Mary Rose in Portsmouth dockyard is wonderful. CA

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Would really like to see the Mary Rose. I saw the Cutty Sark in all her ("un-sunken") splendour in Greenwich many years ago.

 

That reminds me. It is actually possible to see a sunken ship that has been unearthed again in Koblenz. A museum that tends to be overlooked by foreigners is the Rhein-Museum as it is in Ehrenbreitstein on the right bank and does not cater much to foreign language visitors. But the exhibits are really interesting. They have a hull of a ship that was part of the first pontoon bridge, a real Schiffbrücke, meaning individual swimming boats carrying a bridge with a middle section that floated out to give a gap for ships to pass through. You can have a look at it here in a photo: https://www.rhein-museum.de/die-abteilungen

 

The second Schiffbrücke at Koblenz looked like this: https://de.wikipedia.org/wiki/Schiffbrücke_(Koblenz)#/media/Datei:Schiffbrücke_Koblenz_1896.jpg

 

notamermaid

 

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Update on the landslide at Kestert. Stone on the rockface is dangerously loose and will be sent down the hill in a controlled explosion. This is going to happen any minute now! Hope it works well and the rock is safe for going past afterwards.

 

notamermaid

 

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At this point in time it is very difficult to say what will be in June. One thing is certain: your itinerary will not be normal. Details are absolutely unclear. Even just sailing across borders may be an issue. But in that case Viking will likely take the step and cancel. Sailing from Basel to Strasbourg would be possible, but as the ships dock in Kehl, Germany, it could well be that Germany or France do not allow the border crossings for leisure (organized groups). For end of June that would be an extreme scenario but who knows. At least do not expect free movement as in a normal year, full capacity restaurants, large events and the like. Again, things may look good in June, but I am sceptical. We have had too many setbacks. Definitely expect health protocols and mask mandates to be in place. Not everywhere, but many indoor settings.

 

Switzerland has just increased restrictions again and Germany's incidence rate has jumped to over 100. You see that things are not looking pleasant right now.

 

If you can, wait a couple of weeks to see what Viking says. They monitor the situation in the countries they sail through and will react accordingly to ensure passengers can have a relatively pleasant experience. They will also have a clearer idea in the coming weeks of air travel and entry into the EU, with the idea of a vaccine certificate floating around. This may be available by June.

 

notamermaid

 

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@7patches, financially you will make out much much better if you let Viking cancel the cruise.  Last year they were offering 125% credit, or 100% refund.  This year, we'll see.  If you do the cancelling it is possible that you will lose money.

 

Now granted, waiting for Viking to do the cancelling is a gamble for sure----if they do not you would end up possibly losing money, or taking the cruise under conditions you may  not like.  Frankly, since Europe is behind the US in terms of vaccinations, I would expect that cancellation in June is likely.  Then again, I do not speak for Viking!!

 

We did the Rhine with Viking in October 2019, and I cannot think of any aspect of the cruise that I didn't like!  Best of luck dealing with this conundrum.

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4 hours ago, sharkster77 said:

Now granted, waiting for Viking to do the cancelling is a gamble for sure

A gamble, yes, I share your thoughts that it makes sense to gamble in this case.

4 hours ago, sharkster77 said:

Frankly, since Europe is behind the US in terms of vaccinations, I would expect that cancellation in June is likely. 

Things will improve on that front, but we will not be able to catch up quickly. Viking has already cancelled till 31 May, so I reckon they may well also cancel the June sailings.

 

notamermaid

 

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It is sunny today and it feels like early Spring. While many nights will still be cold in the next few weeks, I think we can put Winter behind us now.

 

Restrictions on public and private life are not behind us, but will continue in this lock down that has been extended till 18 April in Germany.

 

Neither the region Moselle in France nor the Netherlands look attractive and feasible places to visit right now and Switzerland is kind of okay only.

 

All in all, a proper multi-day river cruise on the Rhine and Moselle is not possible till 18 April, but what restrictions may be lifted so that sailing the Dutch river sections and the canals could become possible before that I cannot say.

 

But life goes on for all that commercially use the river.

 

Here is a short video which I enjoyed watching for its different angle on life on the river, away from the leisure activities that we enjoy when we travel on this major transport route in Europe: https://www.france24.com/en/tv-shows/you-are-here/20210323-a-glimpse-of-life-on-the-rhine

 

notamermaid

 

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I have realized that I have not posted a graph for the Rhine this year yet. There may be some among you who have only recently joined, so here is a little explaining. Of the three figures I post the one at Kaub is the most important one to follow as we are leaving Winter and there is not much risk of widespread flooding. It can still happen, but we are now at a level that is low enough to leave much room in the riverbed for rain in April. Fingers crossed any high water levels will not lead to proper flooding. So this is Kaub tonight, 179cm:

 

image.png.e748a90bbf4e2825bb2880d0493c91b5.png

 

This looks pleasant for sailing, the line going through the graph with the letters MW is mean water level. Underneath the two graphs are abbreviations. Interesting for us now are the GlW and the MNW. When the level falls further first the MNW (mean low water) and then the GlW (meaning at that level the navigation channel has a certain depth in that section of river that the authorities try to ensure, or also referred to as target depth) appear. At Kaub the mean low water is a good indicator for things to come as the figure has been put at 93cm (a statistical value). Basically, when Kaub reaches 93cm on a downward trend you may experience some disruption to your river cruise soon after that, when exactly one cannot say, just bear in mind it may happen if no rain is in sight in the Upper Rhine valley and the level falls further. The GlW is set at 78cm which means the navigation channel depth is then 190cm. This is a good marker for us amateurs but captains use a different value further upstream to calculate depth and safety for sailing based on draft of ship and terrain. Just assume that a disruption to your cruise becomes more likely. In the end your captain will decide when it is safe to sail so you can never fully know beforehand, there is no halting of shipping on the Rhine in low water.

 

Now, do not get nervous, this does not happen too often and when it does it is usually no big deal. You want to ensure it never happens to you? Never want to do a ship swap or a coach tour? I am sorry to say that there is no guarantee, but you can further reduce the risk by choosing a 110m ship rather than a 135m ship. That helps. And remember that your cruise line will inform you beforehand as much as is possible to them (I have confidence that they will do their utmost to get much info to you). There are years when no 135m ship gets stranded and 110m ships almost never do anyway. Almost? Yes, the dreadful Autumn of 2018 even stopped a few 110m ships, only on a few days, but it did. Shorter ships (105m and less) were just fine as far as I know (bearing in mind that I have not tracked all smaller ships), we have a direct report from a past cruiser on a slightly smaller ship than 110m that just made it through on one of the worst days in that year. This is what the graph looked like in the Autumn of 2018, sorry, a small screenshot:

 

 

15 October 2018:

image.png.355993db63815a926336a4166b959dc3.png

The level on that day was so low that the MW line disappeared, visible here are the MNW and GlW lines. The reading when I took the screenshot was 41cm. It fell further after that and on 22 October there was a new record for the NNW, that is the lowest level ever recorded: 25cm!

 

A lot of info, I know. :classic_smile: And I leave it that till we see a significant change or the river cruise ships are allowed to sail for leisure again. You can follow the graph yourself under https://www.pegelonline.wsv.de/webservices/zeitreihe/visualisierung?ansicht=einzeln&pegelnummer=25700100

 

notamermaid

 

 

 

 

 

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Our clocks changed to Summertime last weekend and yesterday we had our first "Summer day" in Germany. That means in isolated places the highest day temperature reached 25 degrees Celsius. Today is another warm day, it is just after 1pm, but the sun is of course only on 12pm, nevertheless it is already 18 degrees in Mannheim and 21 degrees in Strasbourg. The magnolia tree near me is in almost full bloom, the insects are swarming, the butterflies are out and it is altogether quite splendid.

 

But not all is well in the state of Rhineland-Palatinate. Not in the other states and countries along the Rhine either. This Easter weekend would normally be the start of the excursion boat season but from the Upper to the Lower Rhine valley boats are not running. On Lake Constance the ships will stay moored for the time being and the company serving the Düsseldorf/Duisburg area has cancelled all trips for this season already! And that is not all: a major blow to the tourism industry (yes, it can get worse than it already is) is the fact that this year's "Rhine in Flames" series of events in the Middle Rhine valley is cancelled. These fireworks displays would normally be happening on five Saturdays spread out from Mai till September but due to the long planning periods involved it has been decided to cancel them all now.

 

The annoying thing for German river cruise companies is the fact that a few itineraries were planned to include exactly these events.

 

The Easter weekend will be a quiet affair, even most church services have been cancelled and the weather will get cooler with much rain to follow during the course of next week.

 

notamermaid

 

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Well done for getting this splendid specimen so close up and in focus. I find butterflies notoriously hard to capture on camera. Not sure which ones I have seen fluttering so far, but we have the peacock around here as well so I am bound to see one soon.

 

If any of you would like to follow the progression of the season in the Rhine valley why not have a look at this webcam, it is Oberwesel in the Rhine gorge: https://www.oberwesel.de/tourismus/webcam

 

The others at Koblenz and Drachenfels castle are streamed automatically back to back or you can switch to them if you like.

 

notamermaid

 

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We all know that there are many shipwrecks on the grounds of our oceans, especially along the coastlines. Sunk for whatever reasons, sometimes even deliberately done so. This happens in rivers and lakes, naturally less so. And in Lake Constance there are also ships that have been deliberately sunk. Perhaps you will be surprised to read that they find ships in the lake that they did not know about, ancient ones I mean. The dimensions of Lake Constance make it clearer: 536 square kilometres of surface area, 90m as average depth, 251m maximum depth. It is the third largest freshwater European lake according to Wikipedia: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lake_Constance

 

It is the Rhine's natural reservoir, but I should say that the Rhine flows into the lake and out rather than feeding the river like a tributary.

 

So what have archaeologists found?  A rather old canoe! It is a dug-out canoe believed to be around 4,000 years old: https://www.dw.com/en/4000-year-old-boat-recovery-begins-in-southern-germany/a-57068160

 

It is known that "many" people have lived around the lake in prehistoric times so there are bound to be more canoes and as the archeologists say due to the nature of the lake, they stand a good chance of finding more. Perhaps they will look for more?

 

notamermaid

 

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