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Summer 2011 Part 11 Heligoland to Hamburg

Part 11
Heligoland to Hamburg

Friday 15th July
So we three reluctantly made our way back to the HALUNDER JET. We boarded and this time our seats were on the upper deck in Comfort Class, with free tea, coffee or juices available. I noticed that one small area had a covered rail and coat hangers for Comfort Class passengers. I also noticed that the front rows of seats had seat belts fitted to them, presumably to be used in certain conditions. I imagine they were worn this morning. Again, food was available to order with table service. The sun was still shining and at 4.30 p.m. the crowded vessel pulled away from Heligoland, after an unforgettable visit!

Ships and route

Halunder Jet ready for boarding

After a few minutes we realised that the First Officer had been right about the weather and sea conditions for the part of our journey to Cuxhaven, and we all felt a lot happier.

Calmer seas

This time the journey took the scheduled 1 hour and 15 minutes, and the disembarking passengers were soon off the ship and the new ones on, under sunny and breezy conditions.

Weather signs at Cuxhaven

We stayed on board of course as we were to continue to Hamburg for the two and a half hours journey. Cuxhaven is on the south side of the River Elbe so we went out on the stern deck this time to watch us enter the wide River.

Unknown ship

Tug Vogelsand

Ark Futura

We could also see VISTAMAR at her berth and then watch her leave to sail north again. At last I was able to get a good photograph of her in sunshine.


As we left Cuxhaven we were able to move to the empty front row seats which we had booked originally, so that was lucky.

As the river narrowed very slightly we had to keep within the marked buoys, and of course slow down when nearing other vessels, whatever their size. On the port side we soon approached the western end of the Kiel Canal, at Brunsbuttel, and could see the start of the locks. Goodness, some of Father’s photos were taken eighty years ago when he came through the Canal to here, on the ARANDORA STAR. One of his photos is of him and some others sitting inside the edge of the ship’s funnel, going through the Kiel Canal, so it must have been the dummy funnel! One day I hope to do that journey myself – one day.

The River Elbe wound its way round a slim island in the middle, and then we approached and stopped at Wedel Point – the Welcome Point.

Welcome Point

Coming alongside at Wedel

It was a daily stop for the HALUNDER JET (three hours from Heligoland) and exciting for us: every time a ship passed the Point in daylight a piece of music was played over the loudspeakers, appropriate to the nationality of the ship. We dropped our passengers off, picked up the new ones, and as we left we heard a stirring piece of German music, which lasted for several minutes. Apparently the man who owns the Restaurant and Café there has a CD collection of about 300 national anthems or similar and tries to play the appropriate one for each vessel that passes. Some ships acknowledge this with a whistle, some just ignore it, but the rest of us are perfectly happy and amused. There is a list of expected vessels and their passing times on a notice board in the grounds.

Soon we came to the A380 Airbus factories on the south side of the river. Planes fly in to be fitted out here, and in fact we could see an AIRBUS SKYLINK plane beside the factory, with several others being completed. That reminded me that I saw a RORO vessel in Palermo recently which had the AIRBUS sign on the side of it, and was carrying parts for the aircraft. We also saw the Blohm & Voss ship repair yards as we neared Hamburg. All along the riverside we could see secluded homes tucked into the hillside woods, and frequent sandy beaches on the north side which were being enjoyed by many people.

We finally came in sight of Hamburg city and this reminded me of a couple of Father’s photographs as he approached it on the ARANDORA STAR in 1931. He could see some docks on one side, (and now I’m home I have scanned the photo in case anyone can recognise the funnel markings of the ship in the picture).

Hamburg docks 1931

and railway lines and railway wagons on the other side,

Approaching Hamburg 1931

as well as several church spires. This was the end of our trip, as the sun was sinking in the west.

Halunder Jet

The sky was finally clear and the light golden as we approached the quayside. Just ahead of us was our final destination of the day: the CAP SAN DIEGO.

Cap San Diego

We had booked to stay on board her, as yet another ship experience, and it took us only a few minutes to walk along the quayside, across an old bridge that had obviously been updated at some point, and onto the pontoon leading to our hotel ship.

Welcome on Board

We checked in, paid for our cabins, and enjoyed the thought that we were on board our third ship of the day.

My cabin 206

My bunk

My cabin 206 was spacious, with a view over the starboard side to the water, city spires, buildings and ships moored along the other pontoons. It was disappointing to discover that no food or drink was available on board, other than breakfast in the morning, so we had to leave our cabins and go ashore for a light meal. The public rooms on the ship are available for hire, and we could see people in those rooms, which were then locked up when they left. Why does this sound familiar? Ah well, I was in Hamburg for the very first time and staying on an hotel ship and looking forward to my weekend in the city.

Ships seen: Dublin Express, MSC Joy, Atlantis, 2 DFS freighters, Funny Girl, Lady von Busum, Amaranth, Grandi Napoli, Vistamar,Pilot ship and Mother Pilot Ship, Delta Hamburg, Juyul tanker with an Arabic name too, Anne Ehler (small feeder container), Euro Snow, Finn Breeze, Emma, PAL Line Trans Odin, Ever Eagle, D S Agility from Monrovia), Marie Fresno (Dutch sailing vessel), harbour ferries, Marstan, Ragna, Kristin Schepers, Cap George, City of Beirut in the floating dry dock, MSC Charleston, several other ships in the docks, Cap San Diego hotel ship.

To be continued…