Waiting for falling water levels

Waiting for falling water levels

Captain kraaier and captain dupal are quite relaxed. High water? For the two hollanders, it’s part of their professional life. For seven days now, her queen excellence has been lying on the banks of the main river in marktbreit. The journey should continue tomorrow at the latest.

Since thursday of last week, the main river has been closed – in parts – to navigation. From trunstadt near bamberg, the level gradually rose above the alarming limit. "The peak is still expected in aschaffenburg," helke frohner, press spokesman for the schweinfurt water and shipping office, announced yesterday morning. Frohner expects navigation on the main to be reopened step by step starting today, tuesday. The two captains are nevertheless preparing for another night in marktbreit. They know the lowenbrucke in wurzburg only too well. "The water level must have really dropped for us to fit underneath," says captain kraaier with a smile.

On the second christmas day the journey started from strabburg. Via mainz the queen excellence sailed the main auarts. The destination: nurnberg. "We only made it as far as bamberg," says captain dupal. Their ship was anchored there for three days, and the guests were bussed to nurnberg and wurzburg. "This was a concert trip," explains captain kraaier. Beethoven and the brook in the evening, on the river in the daytime.

The situation is easing

However, the high water has put a spoke in the guests’ wheel. From bamberg, they – together with the bulk of the crew – were taken by bus to frankfurt. The "queen excellence" made its way back without passengers – until the shipping office closed the entire main to shipping traffic. The two captains and their four remaining crew members are stranded in marktbreit.

"The situation is now easing again," reports helke frohner. In trunstadt, on the upper course of the mains, a section of the river was already reopened yesterday. In schweinfurt, the level was still 30 centimeters above normal; in wurzburg, almost 80 centimeters. Instead of 3.40 meters, the main had swollen to 4.16 meters. "There’s no point in driving," says captain kraaier, looking at the brown current. Navigation was far too difficult, some bridges could not be passed at all.

Spot landing for the construction yard

In marktbreit, the queen excellence has therefore dropped anchor in good time. On wednesday last week there were still enough berths – not an unimportant factor. All in all, the berths along the mains are few and far between, as helke frohner confirms. "That’s why our control centers are managing it," he explains. It is better for a ship to be guided to a free berth too early than not to find a berth en route. According to frohner’s knowledge, around 20 ships were waiting between bamberg and marktheidenfeld yesterday for the signal to proceed. However, before a release can be issued, the staff of the shipping office will travel the river on site and examine it for possible deposits of floating material that could affect shipping traffic. "Berge" is the technical term for it. Only when the main is "mountain-free" can the river be reopened section by section.

Compared to the years 2003 and 2011, the 2018 flood is a trifle. At that time, the main river overflowed its banks, almost two weeks after the flood warning levels were exceeded. "This time it was almost a precision landing," says georg gunther, head of the municipal building department in kitzingen, happily. Ten to 15 centimeters more and he had to send his employees to dismantle the "terminal" for the hotel ships on the kitzingen shore. 120 screws have to be loosened and – after the floods – reinstalled. Gunther and his workers have saved themselves two to three hours of work. Nevertheless, two men were on the job yesterday to free the area under the old main bridge from the muck of the spilled mains. The workers have put up warning signs not only there, but also on the bicycle paths in the direction of mainstockheim and on the fubweg on the albertshof side.

Jurgen orth, head of the clearing plant in kitzingen, was not worried at all. He had to adjust two gates, that’s it. "Compared to 2003 and 2011, it was a piece of cake," he says. But who knows what’s still to come. For the rest of the week, the german weather service reports a significant easing of the flood situation. But it is not possible to look much further ahead than that.

Dutch captains kraaier and dupal know from many years of experience that the flood season is far from over. Once you have brought your ship into its home port, maintenance and repair work is the first thing on the agenda. Not until 15. March starts the new season. Until then, the shipping companies prefer to wait with the start of the season. Because then the probability of floods on the european shipping lanes has long decreased again.

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