If you want to take a boat down the Danube, you need an Inland Waterways Boat Licence, fortunately; our raft Captain Matthias successfully passed the exam in March. You all know how it is with your driving test – as soon as you’ve passed the test, you can’t wait to get out on the road. In and around Berlin there are plenty of lakes and canals for us to test out Matthias’ new skills. As there was good weather forecast for the weekend, we packed up the freshly printed boat licence, barbecue supplies, cold drinks and sailor costumes and headed off to Berlin’s Müggelsee
Under the careful guidance of the friendly men from boat hire company Spreepoint (highly recommended!) and the pressure of watching passengers, manoeuvring skills were put straight to the test – reversing out of the marina between an array of expensive boats. After the first few successful metres the knots in our stomach began to loosen and we could relax, stretching out in the comfy onboard lounge. We all quickly got a taste for the rafting lifestyle, even if our Danube raft will be somewhat less luxurious.
We cruise by the old town centre of the district of Köpenick and head out towards the countryside. Surrounded by water, the concrete and traffic noises subside into greenery, trees and birds twittering all around. It’s amazing how quickly you can escape the big city and find peace and quiet. It’s customary for all hobby captains to greet each other amiably and so we wave back enthusiastically over the waves as a larger boat overtakes us and the two seasoned captains give us broad grin. Suddenly a cry goes up from the crew on the front sundeck and we realise much too late that we’ve steered straight into the wake of the other boat and the waves have rapidly washed across half of the raft floor. They didn’t include that on the boat licence course! Well at least the deck has been given a thorough wash now … along with three pairs of shoes, trousers and the accompanying feet and derrieres.
Time for our barbecue in a quiet inlet. There’s even a jetty for us to practice our newly-learnt rope tying skills. Our sausages crisp up quickly on the LotusGrill with built-in fan blower (included in our rental package, also highly recommended!) and it also doubles up as a great sock-dryer. Stomachs full again, we ‘weight anchor’ (untie the ropes) and continue on our journey, touring through the lakes and canals in a loop.
Everyone takes a turn at the helm (Captain’s hat mandatory), steering the boat and gaining the first tentative experiences ready for the Danube. Much too soon we are speeding across the wide expanse of the Müggelsee back to the marina, a beautiful sunset ahead of us and a fun day out on the open water behind us.
The boat may have been more luxurious and the Müggelspree is certainly not the Danube, but nevertheless, the crew is already dreaming of their summer ad(d)venture and thoroughly enjoyed the hard-earned “Donauwelle” (Danube wave) chocolate cake at the end of the tour.
Which other lakes and rivers around Berlin should we test out before we start our raft tour down the Danube? We look forward to hearing your suggestions!
Matthes thinks outside the box, he develops event concepts and runs his own webshop (customazer.com). He likes to dream and loves to make these dreams come true. He can be found getting back to basics in the wilderness, dressing up in the mud or having crazy adventures in the air or on the water.