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July 04, 2005

The Lorelei

Approaching the St Goar reach of the river Rhine, one must negotiate the Lorelei, the legendary site at which beautiful water maidens were purported to sing and distract boatmen, luring them onto the treacherous rocks below the headland. As can be seen from the picture below, it does not take much to wreck a vessel here - the currents are very swift, tumultuous, and sweep the underpowered across the river toward the Lorelei with or without the famous "Lorelei" singers!

A double barge negotiates the turn at the Lorelei - the huge headland in the background.

The river at this point is narrow and the deep water channel is close to the Lorelei itself. Herein lies at least part of the problem; the currents here are very tricky, and the unwary boatmen is drawn towards the rocks at the base of the headland unless he (or she) is aware of the danger and very careful in negotiating this pass. It is probably not helped by the fact that the narrowness of the channel forces the traffic into close proximity with each other, and another phenomenon comes into play which sees larger vessels drawing smaller ones towards themselves. I suspect that most Captains negotiating this stretch heave a hearty sigh of relief when it is safely past!

Posted by The Gray Monk at July 4, 2005 10:17 AM