Five tips for areas off-the-beaten-track cruising
Boating holidays are booming. In the well-known areas and tourist spots, the harbours are full and the crowds are heaving. No wonder, because more and more people want to spend their leisure time on the water. If you ask for a mooring in the Flensburg Fjord or around Rügen on the Müritz, the Frisian Lake District or marinas in Majorca, you get the same answer each time: everything is booked up!
So, what to do? Our suggestion: change your line of sight and look for places in the second row. Of course, here too the trend flushes holidaymakers and boat owners into the harbours. But the likelihood of escaping the hustle and bustle is much greater. Here are a few suggestions that are anything but second-rate stopgaps but shhh, don't tell anyone!
The Forgotten Treasure of the Baltic Sea:
Wismar Bay, Poel Island and Salzhaff
Are you familiar with Langenwerder, Ellenbogen, Wohlenberger Wiek or Boiensdorfer Werder? No? Then you should visit these islands, peninsulas and lagoon-like bays found around the Wismar Bay. Together with the island of Poel, the old Hanseatic city of Wismar, the salt lagoon of the Wustrow peninsula and the nearby seaside resorts of Boltenhagen, Timmendorf and Hohen Wieschendorf, this micro-region is a little-known treasure chest of cruising grounds along the German Baltic coast.
The 15 nautical miles are full of variety and contrasts: In the 5-star marina of Boltenhagen, you can enjoy fresh seafood on the restaurant terrace with an unencumbered view of your yacht. It's completely different in family friendly Rerik: here you can watch the fishermen drying their nets and working in the bustling harbour. Another must-see spot in this area is Wismar, its moorings are in the centre and the Gothic water gate, brick churches, merchants' houses and cobbled streets have earned the town UNESCO World Heritage Site status.
But the six harbour towns in this micro-region are by no means all there is to see. If you are looking for peace and solitude, simply head for one of the many anchorages – we recommend the one next to the Boiensdorfer Werder peninsula. Here, with a bit of luck, you’ll spot sea eagles, cormorants and grey geese. But be careful: on most stretches you’ll need to navigate around numerous boulders, shoals, gill nets, fish traps, stone fields and islands.
The Amazon of the North:
PeeneStrom, Achterwasser & Co
The primeval, forest-like, lush green shores and wide flooded moors begin where the navigability of the Peene ends. Nevertheless, even on the few kilometres towards Anklam, marshy reed landscapes pass by and here, with a little luck, you can observe beavers, otters and other wildlife.
The real hunting ground, however, is the Peene River, which connects the open Baltic Sea with the Szczecin Lagoon via the Greifswald Bodden. The water is one of the richest in fish in Germany and thus also the territory of sea eagles, herons and cormorants.
Almost 40 nautical miles long, the waters meander between the mainland of Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania and the island of Usedom to the Polish border. In addition to the narrow Peene Stream (the fairway has a target depth of two and a half metres), there are wide inlets called the Achterwasser, Krumminer Wiek or Kleines Haff. Dreamy anchorages are hidden here between steep banks and reed belts.
Among the two dozen harbours, moorings and resting places, there are large and modern marinas like the one in Kröslin, as well as small jetties. These - Zempin or Netzelkow, for example - are often located in wonderfully untouched nature. In contrast, the small Hanseatic town of Wolgast and places like Feest, Lassan and the small town of Usedom, offer more urban variety. Despite all the idyllic scenery, we have two warnings: If you leave the fairway in the wrong place, you will quickly get stuck in the marshy ground and, depending on the wind direction, there are currents of up to two knots in both directions.
The smallest sea in the Netherlands:
The Netherlands is best known for its North Sea islands, the Wadden Sea, Ijssel and Markermeer and its Frisian Lake District. The waters of South Holland or the marginal seas are also on the radar of some more experienced sailors but what, pray tell, is the Lauwersmeer?
To make a long story short: The Lauwersmeer is like a miniature version of the Ijsselmeer. Both are separated from the tides of the North Sea by a closing dike, and both can be reached (even with a standing mast) from both the North Sea and the ramified network of inland waters.
The Lauwersmeer however, in the very northwest of the country, is comparatively tiny, with an extension of about five by three nautical miles. Nevertheless, the possibilities are enormous: six harbours, several moorings in untouched nature and anchorages in front of islands and lonely reed fields make for wonderfully relaxing holidays. In addition, the Wadden Sea with the island of Schiermonnikoog lies in front of the lock and via the waterways (which are part of the famous Staande Mastroute) you can reach pretty places like Dokkum or Leeuwarden in no time. If you then continue your journey - past lift bridges, cow pastures, fields, moorings, locks and historic towns - you will quickly end up in another beautiful area: the Ijsselmeer.
Out of Berlin, into the countryside:
from the Dahmer Waterway to Lake Scharmützel
If the artistic bohemians of the Weimar Republic from 1920s Berlin needed a break, they headed for the countryside and the spa town of Bad Saarow, on Lake Scharmützel, was a popular destination. For today's boaters, the lake is a terminus; the richly branched waters of Berlin's south find their end here.
The 50 kilometres from Königs Wusterhausen to Scharmützelsee couldn't be more idyllic, and word has got around about that, too. On the way there, you’ll sail through the lakes of the Dahme waterway, Krimnicksee, Krüpelsee or Dolgensee, then through those of the Storkow waterways. Dense pine forests glide by on the right and left, wide reed belts and extensive fields of water lilies. If you want to take a detour into the swamp and bog landscape of Teupitz, you also pass through the ten lakes of the Teupitzer Gewässer.
Everywhere you turn you will find inns with adjacent moorings, serving fresh catfish and pike-perch in the evening or fresh fish from the smokehouse. Towns, harbours and marinas offer moorings, variety and infrastructure, and at the very end of the journey there it is: the Scharmützelsee, surrounded by forest, water and meadows. It is eleven kilometres long, with two islands in the middle and jetties, villages and the aforementioned spa town of Bad Saarow ducking into the greenery on the shores. Theodor Fontane, the famous son of Brandenburg, gave the lake its very own name: Märkisches Meer.
In the shadow of the giants:
Sailing in Slovenia? Never heard of it. And no wonder, since the two neighbouring countries Italy and Croatia always play the main role in cruising itineraries for this region. But his small Balkan state has big appeal.
These two neighbouring countries have not allowed their neighbour much more than the eye of a needle as access to the sea. Slovenia's coastal strip, which the locals affectionately call the Slovenian Riviera, is just 47 kilometres long but, it is perfectly placed. From here you can reach the lagoons of Venice and Grado, the pretty coastal towns of Istria and the Croatian islands in no time at all. Secondly, there is no faster way to reach your Adriatic destination from the north. And thirdly, you should never underestimate small countries. The marinas in the well-kept seaside resort of Portorož and in the old fishing village of Izola offer a perfect all-round service with a total of 1,300 berths – with facilities including travel lifts, cranes, slipways, sailmakers, workshops, accessory shops, swimming pools and many restaurants. And in Koper you can moor your yacht right next to the architectural monuments of the old town. But the real pearl of Slovenia is Piran. The small town is situated on a beautiful headland washed by the sea. Piran alone, with its medieval history, is worth a visit to the miniature coastal country of Slovenia. That's a promise!