Elbe paddle (day 17): Bleckede – Geesthacht lock – Drage/Hamburg

Today: 42km |Total: 651km

Long day today in brutal heat yet again (one bottle of sunblock… gone). We left Bleckede pretty early to get to a key point on the trip – the lock in Geesthacht passing Lauenburg on the way. While the wind was favorable, the onsetting traffic on the Elbe made for a new experience. Many waves to maneuvre. After 35km we reached the lock by 3.30pm. And after another 7km we reached the bootclub in Drage – a Hamburg suburb. We took the boat out here and enjoyed the pick-up by Thomas in an air conditioned car. Different. Tomorrow we explore Hamburg a bit.

Geesthacht: The lock is situtated on a side arm of the river and is preceeded by pumped storage power plant. The lock manages the tides on the river. The approach is challenging to the extent that the current on the river slows as you get closer (means more paddling, less floating). Just before the lock there is a canal that is not as affected by the heat and hence still frequented by large vessels. So a lot of traffic after days of peace and quiet on the Elbe. Once in the lock – you feel pretty small in a canoe. Huge dimensions of what we referred to as the gates of mordor 🤣⚓. Once through the gates, a paddler needs to know the tidal tables. Basically you paddle as the high water flows back to the North sea until it reaches its lowest level and the flow direction flips (no chance) . Today the window was from 1pm to 7pm ish.

Drage: We had stopped earlier at a camp ground by the river for dearly needed refreshments. I managed to convince Laura to get into the boat once more to find a better place to take the canoe out of the water. She was very tired and sick of the permanent sun exposure ☀ 🇨🇴 😂. Once at the Drage boat club we dismantled the canoe and soon after Thomas arrived to give us a lift.

Hamburg: We will definately have a rest day here and check out town. A night in a bed is also very appealing after 2,5w camping. The dinner & beer were a good reward for getting here too!

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