Being on a houseboat. Who does not know the pictures of nice boats in a narrow channel. The ads promise total relaxation. It looks like you are always only 2 meters away from the banks and can jump any time ashore. The boat is floating so slowly that you can walk beside and pick flowers. You glide slowly along end enjoy your vacation. Every now and then there is a bollard where you can stop and sit on the sun terrace and can read or eat or do anything. Once in a while there is a small village. You land and stroll through it over a nice market place where you can get fresh food for dinner. Or you visit the village and stop in a nice coffee place. How beautiful!
So much for the theory. And our ideas of it. But it was different.
First you get a lot (a lot!) of paper to read. There is a captain’s guide. And there is a trip planner and a charter primer. Though the houseboat can be driven without a driver license you still have to cram. Traffic signs have to be learned. Emergency calls and hooter alarms, water traffic rules and you have to learn how to read a navigable water map. Phhhhhhh! Actually we wanted to be on vacation.
You get a three hour instruction. Half of it is theory and half of it should be practical. We first had the practical part. The boat is explained. All the buttons at the driver’s cabin. And the connections for fresh water, waste water and fuel. And soon it is „cast off“ and the boat moves… dangerously towards the neighbor boats.
Don’t panic! You can steer. Just move the wheel. We drive around the harbour and are supposed to back into a parking space. Works fine! Then we go back to the pier. Together with the instructor and hints and tips no problem. We get euphoric!
We lower our expectations very soon in the following theory part. We hear about obligatory life vests and application by phone if you want to go across the lake. It is supposed to be dangerous and there might be high waves. There are red tons and green ones and once they have to be on the left and then they have to be on the right. And then there are green-red ones and also black-yellow ones and if there is a boat with a flag we have to stop. Pah! Very much input for a holiday. Will we remember that?
We can not try it out the same day because there is a thunder storm and we are not allowed to drive with that kind of wind. We still have many questions like „How does it work with the fresh water and waste water?“ „How do we find a free place in the harbour?“ „How do we get electricity?“ „And how far can you get within one day?“
The first trip leads you somehow or other over the lake Müritz. You are supposed to find a buoy and to keep going along it. Up to the small Müritz a life vest is obligatory. All the boats we have watched leaving went without the vests apart from one… hmmmmmm……
We had an unpleasant feeling and did not dare to start. We thought we would not have the houseboat under control and could cope with the dangerous lake. So we stayed at the harbour and contacted the office. We got another instruction and the instructor went with us to the next harbour.
First we took another round through the harbour and tried this time to land sidewards. Then we went onto the lake. The dangerous one. We searched for buoys and tried to drive along them. Quite windy. And the boat reacts differently than in the harbour. Finally we get to the quite channel. Here it is absolutely beautiful. A lot of nature. Bird sanctuaries. Tweeting and jubilating from the reed. Here a family of wild goose swims across; there some frogs croak. Something like relaxation appears. Only because bore Rolf is very nice and tells a lot. And we have time to talk. Because we don't go very fast. After the channel a lake follows and after that another channel. Rolf is very patient and explains and answers our questions. Achim and I change holding the wheel. When I steered he could even take some pictures. Rustic and romantic. The channels look like the Amazonas. Old wood can be seen looking out from the water. Bollards have green hats and once in a while a duck or a coot passes by. Sometimes a boat comes towards us. Water people are very friendly by the way. The great! Hups! A short wave and the boat drives somewhere else. Look out!
You have to concentrate. I still drive a zick-zack track. Rolf always said: „Keep calm!“ And there it is : The first lock! Aaaaaaaaaahhhhhhhhhh. „Keep calm!“ Rolf says. We had talked about the steps. I take the rope at the front. Achim takes the one at the back. As soon as we are fixed I take the rope, go inside and stop the motor. With the rope in my hands. After locking everything is done the other way round…
But first we have to wait. There are several boats in front of us waiting and we have to let a passenger boat pass. We have to give way to them. So we are with the third locking. Everything works out fine. You only get wet and dirty. And gloves would be great. Because you have to sort the ropes immediately after each manoeuvre. Did anyone mention vacation?
Then we came to a very romantic mini marina. A real gem. In Granzow. Normally you are not allowed to pass with a motor boat – with the exception that you want to go to exactly this marina. Georgeous. Rolf left us there and kept the contact through Facebook and WhatsApp. A swan swims to our door and nearly went in.
We go out for eating to the near by restaurant because we are completely exhausted. Afterwards we enjoy the incredible concert of birds voices in the bay and the very colorful sunset. If there would not be the lot of kilometers to go on the river next day we could nearly have relaxed.
A new day. We do some office work. Wifi works great though we are in the middle of nowhere. Very nice! And finally it is: „cast off!“ Okay! This time without Rolf. We drive. The swan joins us a bit. At the end of the lake we already stop again. Works fine. Somebody from the neighbor boat comes and offers to help with the ropes. Perfectly!
We are on the island with the castle in Mirow and have a look. But soon we have to leave again. There is a long journey waiting for us. And three locks. Three! Which is three! But until then we float through gorgeous channels with a lot of green, green and green and some water birds. A swan family waits until our boat crossed. Today we also meet fisher men and canoes. That means we have to be careful and concentrated.
And then comes the first lock for us two. But we have to wait again. Three lockings. And after each locking we have to change places. So you have to go from front to back and back to the front. In case you don’t hold the wheel. Then you just stand. Otherwise it is ‚cast off‘, hold the ropes, sort the ropes and again and again and again.
Of course we are first in the lock. The lock instructor said we should go further. Seriously? Okay! Everything allright! Then she comes to the gate and says: „You have to go back a bit!“ *roll eyes* „But you said we should go further.“ Okay… So we go back a bit. Everything allright! Keep calm!
Two more locks are waiting for us. In-between there are drives over lakes and wonderful channels. We can’t relax because we have to concentrate a lot. There is a traffic jam at the next lock. A lot of boats. And it is lunch break. 16 boats are waiting. We are right in the middle. And we have to go further after each locking. Finally through and we drive on. At the third lock is also a traffic jam and the entrance is quite far away. Not bad as we can wait for the rain to pass by inside our houseboat. After three lockings it is our turn and we can finally look out for a marina. We don’t find one. But we see a yacht harbour. But it does not say whether guests are welcome. The boat coming after us says we should just go. So we land. Again we are offered help and the harbour master is really friendly! Great!!
First we need an ice cream and to calm down. The whole day we had to concentrate ourselves and the wind blows in you face and the sun is shining on your head. Because you are driving open air. The beautiful sun roofs you see on the pictures are supposed to stay down while driving. The bay is again cosy and we can watch the sunset again. Fantastic! We call it a day! Neighbors are coming for a chat and we exchange tips. And empty a bottle of wine from south tyrol. Achim takes a photo of the stars in the sky.
The weather forecast predicts a thunder storm for the next morning. So we don’t set the alarm clock. It is raining in the morning but gets clear soon. We decide to go. Again through channels and over lakes. I am at the wheel. Achim takes photos. I have to do some manoeuvres so he can get pictures of certain things. One time we are looking for the entrance to a channel. Does not matter. You can drive and have a look and drive back.
A lock. And it is open. But we are far away. But there is still a green light. Are they waiting for us? They do. And also for the boat behind us. Okay. Quick locking. This time it goes up and I have to pull the rope so that our boat does not crack into the boat in front of us… Once around the corner and we are at the rest area for boaters.
Nobody is there. No harbour master. Not a single boat. We think about how to land. We try and get stuck between bollards. Our boat is too wide. Back to the footbridge. We stay there. We find electricity. Yeah! There is wifi. Perfectly!
We start working. Finally. After several hours at the wheel… And then we stroll through the village. Very nice and small. There are some shops with everything that you need on board. And there even was a nice coffee place with yummy ice cream. It’s a must once in a while. Wesenberg is discovered quickly. Dinner is served at the sun top on board.
The next morning our toilet does not work correctly and we went to the next marina to get rid of waste water and get some fresh water. That is something that really takes some time. You don’t drive quickly to the petrol pump but it is again a manoeuvre. Only one boat fits in. So you might have to wait again or land somewhere else meanwhile. The whole process took us more than one hour.
Everything worked fine afterwards so we went back to the rest area for boaters. Electricity was still working so we put the plug in. Hurra! We worked for a while and had lunch on board. But there also was an accident. Captain’s chair : me 1:0. A huge blue bulge was the result. I put the leg up. Achim went to the pub to get some ice cubes and to the pharmacies and bought some stuff.
Erster Unfall an Bord :-(( pic.twitter.com/PqDpXFnfGX
— DieMeurers (@DieMeurers) June 3, 2016
The plans for the day were called off. We stayed and worked. For the next day a short hike through the ‚holy halls’ – a beech forest – was on the agenda. The foot had shrunk so much that it fit into the hiking shoes. Walking was possible. So we went to the tourism office in Feldberg where a tourist guide climbed into our car and showed us some nice places. The forest belongs to the UNESCO nature world heritage. Very beautiful. You could stay longer there. We also visited a nice coffee place at the hiking trail with a innovative concept. You can only get selfmade things. And the garden is very idyllic.
Back on the houseboat it was cooling the foot again. And to edit pictures and texts. Then we went by bike to the next supermarket. Mainly to get rid of the empties.
Next morning we had to say goodbye to the cosy rest area. We went again to the marina. First everything went well. Even the lock opened when we approached it. So no manoeuvre. Wonderful. But then shortly before the arrival: Tuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuut. A warning signal. At first we did not know what it was. But then we saw that the temperature of the motor was too high. Over 100 C and the lamp was red. What now? No steering without a motor. And we where in the middle of the fairways. Damn. Disabled. Achim called the technician and they tried to fix the problem over the phone.
Very difficult when you don’t know nothing about it and are supposed to find special parts of the machine. It did not work out and we had to wait for the technician. We had to throw the anchor because we floated towards the banks. We set the red flag as well. After that we just had to wait. One hour later the technician arrived and soon the motor was running again.
We were told not to go at full speed and could drive on. With a delay of two hours we arrived at the harbour. We washed our clothes, had a shower and worked a little bit.
After dinner we had a short walk around Priepert. A short one. Priepert is small. And nice. And there is a half-timbered church. Very interesting.
The follow up of our story “On a houseboat on the Müritz” you can find here:
In case you are thinking about renting a houseboat now, have a look at our other blogpost: