Susi and Austin's

Travelling the Rivers and

Canals of Europe


Weser-Datteln to Dortmund-Ems-Kanal

Friday 9 June 2023 5:17 AM

We have now left the Rhine and turned to starboard into the 60km long Wesel-Datteln Kanal. This canal is still frequented by many commercial barges which always have priority, yet we had no waiting times at all to get into the 110m and 222m long double locks. We must have timed it just right!

At the halfway mark we had a very pleasant and reasonably priced overnight stop at the Dorsten Motor-yacht-club.

Contrary to our planned route, we turned right at the end of the Wesel-Datteln into the Dortmund-Ems Kanal. Just a few kilometers south of the junction, at Waltrop, is the old Henrichenburg Boatlift. Completed under Germany’s last Kaiser in 1899 and in use until 1962 it is now one of the must-see industrial museums of the area. The mechanism of the lift is simple and quite ingenious! The tub rests on 5 airfilled cylinders floating in 30m deep waterfilled shafts counterbalancing the 3100 tonnes of the tub. Hands-on activities and explanations (also in English) makes it an interesting experience for adults and children, and at €5.- including a guided tour, very affordable.

The large terrain also includes an old “Schacht”-lock. Not having a neighbouring river to feed the canal, this type of lock has several adjacent water basins recycling 75% of the water during a 3 level descend of the 14m drop. Later, a new boat lift was built with the same principle as the former one, but eventually, as demand decreased and barges became longer and heavier, a new lock replaced both, the old lock and new boat lift. 

From Henrichenburg we headed as per our plan in northern direction. We were passed by barge after barge carrying anything, from sand to metal to wooden logs. Speed limit is 10km and apparently there are occasional radar checks. One of the reasons for the speed checks might be that local youth tend to jump from bridges and swim across the canal in front of boats and barges, frankly taking their lives into their own hands.

In the afternoon, we found a nice green mooring with a straight wall and tied up behind a german sports boat. The owner jumped to our help. He seemed to be a regular on this mooring and offered to watch our boat when we decided to cycle to the 2km distant old town centre of Lüdinghausen. With it's half-timber houses and cobblestone streets it’s a nice place to visit, and, of course, it has it’s own castle. We indulged in a refreshing ice coffee on the market place before cycling to one of the near-by water castles, called “Burg Vischering”.

It was quite a test to walk past the huge pieces of cakes being lapped up in front of former stables, now the Castle Café. So was passing on the bread tasting at the former grain mill. Two of their home recipes, the cinnamon honey sour dough or beetroot-apple rye bread were particularly tempting. But we strode past all with great valour and crossed the bridge to the magnificent water castle.

Inside the castle, the most notable treasure of local history is an iron collar. In June 1520 it was placed by a hired group of attackers around the neck of 80 year old knight Lambert von Oer. The collar had an intricate locking mechanism and was used to try and coerce Lambert to waive his entitlement to property, which he and his foe had been fighting over for 20 years. But instead of following his attackers’ instructions and make his way to a distant castle, the spirited old man went straight to the next blacksmith and got him to forcefully remove the collar with his tools. The land matter was brought to the duke’s council but stayed unresolved, and so a long, bloody feud ensued.

Back on the Lodi, enjoying the evening breeze, we watched a group of young people rolling their shoulers and stretching their legs under the nearby bridge. Soon the music started and an outdoor salsa lesson was on the way. The dancers were having lots of fun and even asked us to join them. But we didn’t want to show them up!

The next day we passed the familiar crop fields and red brick farmhouses of Westphalia. As the mercury was rising to the high twenties, we arrived in the Monasteria Harbour in Münster. We were greeted by yacht club member, Ulrike, who was busily scrubbing her boat. Her family arrived just as she had finished cleaning the rather large cruiser.

Münster was the place where Austin had planned to purchase some E-bikes. But he changed his mind, and was now thinking of buying E-Scooters instead. 

After more or less successfully testing an E-bike along the Danube, I reluctantly followed Austin on one of those E-scooters you'll find on every street corner of a big city. We “scootered” (not sure if this is a word) about 4km to the south of the city, me very jerkingly trying to keep the speed to a mangable level. I was really nervous and felt totally out off control. But we did make it safely to large store called Media Markt. Unfortunately the scooters Austin was looking for were all out off stock. To my relief, Austin agreed to take a bus back into the city centre. 

On arrival he immediately headed for another big electric outlet, called Saturn, and found the desired E-scooter. By now, he had at least given up talking me into getting one! 

We left the scooter in the shop for a later pick up and went for a walk around town. The "Principal Market' in front of the old Town Hall was congested with Demonstrators, calling for peace and freedom in Ukraine. After hearing of demonstrators throughout Europe gluing their hands to roads and bringing traffic to a standstill, we had been expecting the worst. But this was a very peaceful group, appropriate to standing in front of the historic building where 1648 in the Hall of Peace treaties were signed, bringing the Thirty Year War to an end.

As we have previously seen a lot of Münster with my brother and my sister-in-law, and not keen to squeeze through the Saturday crowd on a very hot day, we sought refuge in Münster's Picasso Museum. The museum is solely dedicated to the great spanish painter. We learned that Pablo Picasso loved animals, especially doves which were freely fluttering around his villas. They were of course used as subjects for his well known drawing The Peace Dove. But he also had a monkey, goats and dogs which according to his first wife, he often neglected to feed. Pablo himself wasn’t fussed about food either and usually sketched while eating a meagre meal, using elements of the meal in his art. He and his second wife put on more lavish dinners for their artist friends. But both tired quickly during those occasions and couldn’t wait for them to finish.

As a matter of fact, it seemed that Picasso was only happy while he was creating. This explains the vast number of works including diverse medias like ceramics, sculptures and his lino-cuts of bullfights. A special animal for Pablo was an owlet which he cared for  after it had injured it's leg.

Contrary to other artists of his time, Picasso amassed a lot of money and property during his lifetime. His estate at his death was estimated to total to 700 Million euros. Yet he lived frugal and called himself a communist. His homes were barely furnished. His comment: one has to be able to afford luxury in order to despise it!

I have to admit, that up to now, we haven’t despised the Lodi. The nice stop at Monasteria Harbour in Münster gave us the chance to give Lodi a good scrub, after Austin successfully replaced our leaking deck pump. For non-boaties: a deck-pump pumps water out off the canal and filters it for washing the boat. So I got a lot of work out off Austin that day! And lucky, I did! Because on the same evening he took a tour with his new scooter, and when forced to break suddenly on gravel had a bit of an accident. Anyhow, he was in quite a bit of pain with his shoulder which didn’t improve over night, so we went to the local St. Franziskus Hospital. He felt immediately better being looked after by a young, good looking female trauma doctor. The X-ray to our relief showed no fracture, but he likely damaged his right rotator cuff. Yet another excuse not to do any housework!!!

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