17-Dec-2001 -- After having visited the first Confluence in Russia on
12/12/2001 we sailed from Kaliningrad/Königsberg after completion of
discharging on 15/12/2001 in direction Bremerhaven on the mouth of the
Weser, Germany, in order to load frozen fish for Nigeria.
The shortest route from the Baltic Sea to the North Sea is through the
called Kiel-Kanal, formerly known as Kaiser-Wilhelm-Kanal and officially
named North Sea-Baltic Canal, is a canal of about 100 km (63 miles)
between Kiel on the Baltic Sea and Brunsbüttel on River Elbe/North Sea.
Choosing this canal abbreviates the route considerably. From
Kaliningrad/Königsberg to Bremerhvan the distance around the Skagerrak
(North of Denmark) would be 781 nautical miles (1446 km), via canal it
only 500 nautical miles (926 km).
We arrived at Kiel on 16/12/2001 at 18:00hrs, took the pilot and
lock at Kiel-Holtenau at 20:00hrs.
On 17/12/2001 at 05:00hrs we had completed our transit by clearing the
From there we proceeded downriver the Elbe until the Elbe1 Light Raft,
point, where River Elbe for ocean going ships begins/or ends. Meanwhile
was 07:30 hrs and morning twilight.
Now I had to proceed Southwest to the Mouth of the River Weser, namely
the "Neue Weser" pilot station, to embark a pilot bringing me up to
"German Bight Traffic", the mandatory ship reporting and traffic control
system meanwhile informed me via VHF the Lock at Bremerhaven not to be
for me yet at my intended arrival time. So they advised me to go adrift
adjust my arrival time at Neue Weser Pilot Station for 09:00hrs.
Well, delays in shipping are not uncommon, so I thought about how to
the time and I checked the chart. I was about a half nautical mile away
the Confluence 54N8E.
Right below is the Elbe1 Area, the divider shows the distance and
from the CP to the Island of Helgoland.
Helgoland has a very interesting history and is still an interesting
In 1856 a German poet, Hoffmann von Fallersleben, wrote there "Das Lied
Deutschen", (the song of the Germans), the still today German National
Anthem after a melody of Joseph Haydn.
Originally Helgoland was a British possession. In the end of the 19th
Century the German Empire and Great Britain signed a Treaty, the so
Germany changed with Great Britain his African possession for Helgoland.
So Helgoland became German and Zanzibar in East Africa became British.
At the end of WWII the British Air Force had the intention to destroy
Helgoland completely, in order to avoid any future installation of a
military base there by the enemy.
Thousands of bombs where thrown on this small rock, but as it consists of
hardest granite, they not succeeded, and so Helgoland exists still
Nowadays Helgoland is a duty free zone of Germany, and in summer season
thousands of visitors embark on the so called butter-ferries at
and Hamburg for visiting Helgoland, to buy there duty free booze,
cigarettes, sweets and - in the old days - especially butter.
Purchase is duty free on Helgoland, but it is not allowed to bring
goods in unlimited quantities into the German mainland. 200 cigarettes
liter of booze is allowed.
People normally forget this, when they see, that a carton of cigarettes
costs only the half at Helgoland as on mainland, and later when going
with the "butter-ferry" to their home, coming closer and closer to the
port and the customs, they start to consume their quantities in excess
directly on the spot.
One must once have seen in what very merry condition sometimes
to disembark at Bremerhaven or Hamburg, coming back from a Helgoland-
On Helgoland there are about 1,000 permanent inhabitants, almost all
in this duty-free biz, cars with combustion engines are not allowed
only electric trolleys or golf-caddies.
Well, I directed my ship as close as possible
Confluence, - here I am about 50 metres away.
On board ship I have not a normal GPS, but I am using the far more exact
DGPS (Differential GPS), having an accuracy of a few
When manoeuvering my Chief Officer and Chief Engineer assisted me. They are from the Ukraine and since my
successful visit in Russia they do already plan to visit confluences in
home country during next vacation.
Seaman Allan from the Philippines was on the wheel.
The Island of Helgoland, when daylight came, was
Of course it is more than 20 km away, seen from near the rock offers
colors, and so is Helgoland flag:
3 horizontal stripes, RED / GREEN / WHITE
In German there is a mnemonic aid to remember the flag design:
ROT der Felsen,
GRÜN das Land,
WEISS der Strand.
Das sind die Farben von Helgoland!
(Red the rock
Green the Land
White the strand,
these are the colors of Helgoland!)
It's easy to add a point to an already "complete country", if you have a
ship and you are the Captain!
At 12:00 hrs we were in the Bremerhaven Lock and at 13:30 hrs almost
alongside the quay in Bremerhaven Port.