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Thursday, 26 April 2012

Oberndorf


Glückstad
In Bermuda a year ago, we shared the St. George’s anchorage with Bert and Marlene Frisch aboard their boat Heimkehr.  They were returning from the Caribbean toward their home in Germany where a dock awaited Heimkehr right in front of their house - a dock that Traversay III might like to share.

In planning a spring visit to Hamburg, we realized that Bert and Marlene's town was on the Oste river, a tributary of the Elbe which leads to that city; thus a visit began to seem quite practical.

Because of a complex winding entry over a shallow bar where the Oste meets the Elbe, it is necessary to enter at least 2 hours after low tide and while the tide is rising.  This in turn dictates when you must leave your previous stop, in our case the picturesque town of Gluckstadt [German: Lucky Town}.

Dike and farmhouse from river
A look at the chart was almost enough to discourage the enterprise altogether but with Mary Anne on chart and binoculars and me steering, we managed to get past the tricky, current washed entrance.  Mary Anne's competence in German then got the three bridges opened in succession as we made our way along the narrow winding river. She modestly suggests that whatever she had said, the bridge would have opened as that is how bridge tenders habitually react to approaching boats. It was so tranquil that it seemed our only observers were the many sheep walking along the high dikes. The sheep are employed thus to compress and strengthen the dirt making up these essential dikes which over the years have protected, and occasionally failed to protect, the countryside from a series of devastating floods.  The houses and farms we glimpsed along the way had their lower halves hidden by the intervening dikes , an appearance typical of the region which reinforces the impression of how low the land is.
Traversay at Oberndorf

After an hour and a half motoring up the Oste, we reached the town of Oberndorf - the heart of the Oste as Das Oberndorf Lied puts it.  Marlene was waiting on the dock to take our lines and help us secure our boat.

The Frisch house with Canadian flag
It is difficult with words and pictures to adequately describe the warmth of the welcome given us by this little town! There were dinners to be shared, invariably involving the seasonal regional delicacy of fresh white asparagus. We toured the local area meeting various town characters and seeing sights like a high hanging ferry built by the same Monsieur Eiffel who built the tower.  We dined at "53 North". Interestingly, the town is on the same latitude as Edmonton, Canada where Mary Anne and I grew up.  Drinks with the yacht club led to the singing of various songs and to our receiving a gift book of local history from the mayor.

The Eiffel Ferry
The regional newspaper Niederelbe-Zeitung even sent a reporter to interview the crew of the first Canadian boat [we believe, anyway] to visit the Oste river. 

In a few days, we will leave German waters behind bound for Norway.  We take with us more memories than either of us imagined possible when we arrived a few short weeks ago.

Larry
Cuxhaven, Germany

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