The OSV Relume recently passed through the Kiel Canal en route to the Baltic Sea. Transit time through the 98-kilometre canal, which crosses the German state of Schleswig-Holstein, linking the North Sea with the Baltic, was approximately ten hours, which is shown in a video in time-lapse on our Facebook page.

There are detailed traffic regulations governing the Kiel Canal, both for navigation and for the passing of oncoming vessels. Maximum length for ships on the canal is 235.50 metres and larger vessels are obliged to accept pilots and specialised canal helmsmen; in some cases the assistance of a tugboat is mandatory. However, Relume, at an overall length of 82.6m, was permitted to traverse the canal with her own captain and crew on the bridge.

Up to 130 vessels per day pass through the canal and, viewed from the land, the sight of large ships apparently gliding serenely across the landscape can be surreal. The topography around Kiel is generally flat, and the water of the canal is often not visible until one is crossing one of its eleven bridges. Some of these bridges are iconic in themselves, both for their height and their engineering. The iron railway bridge at Rendsburg, for example, is the longest in the world, and trains have to ascend in a series of loops at the Rendsburg end to get high enough to cross.

For the crew of a ship such as Relume, most of whose time is spent at sea carrying out survey work, the passage through Kiel was an interesting cross-country cruise in a very different environment.