View Full Version : To Black Sea via Waterways. Advice Wanted

29-01-07, 18:59
We are planning to travel by (dismasted!) sailboat thru' the European waterways from France, via Austria, the Danube to the Black sea.
We know that several people have done this, but are finding up-to-date information hard to come by. All advice - even advice on where to find advice - very welcome.

29-01-07, 19:33
Very readable but with a large pinch of salt needed is Tristan Jones - The Improbable Voyage.

Also Backdoor to Byzantium by Bill Cooper precis as follows:-

Back Door to Byzantium
To the Black Sea by the Great Rivers of Europe
By Bill and Laurel Cooper

224 pp. 30 line drawings. 1997. Paperback. $17.95
ISBN 1 57409 043 7

The eagerly awaited conclusion to the Cooper's Watersteps trilogy recounts their award-winning voyage across the North Sea, eastbound through flooded France, down the Rhine in full spate, through the new Rhein-Main-Donau Kanal, and down the Danube to the Black Sea.

After contending with floods, whirlpools, and groundings, the Coopers are cast off by vandals in Germany, swept away by the irresistable current of the flooding Danube, put in harm's way by bureaucratic delays in Hungary, boarded by Serbian patrols, harassed by diesel pirates, and then trapped by a legal morass in Romania and the Ukraine, where sailing a private boat is not yet among the citizens' rights.

Best of luck.


29-01-07, 19:40
Obviously Hungary has joined the EU since then, so shouldn't be any obstacles there. Ditto Romania, tho' not sure how far it's filtered down yet there. Ukraine is no doubt still bureaucratic, but things should have got much easier since 1997 - for a start, visas are no longer required for British citizens. I haven't tried sailing there, but somtimes hop on a train to Kiev, which requires no formality other than filling in a customs declaration on the border.

Using the Ukrainian inland waterways may (probably) require further regulation though, which will at least include a declaration of temporary import of the yacht (obligation to take it out again within 6 months or pay import duties), and may involve other formalities. Generally however Ukraine has become much more western looking since the Orange revolution (even though most Ukrainians regret it!).

29-01-07, 19:51
"Leontyne: By Barge from London to Vienna"
Author: Goodwin, Richard
Publisher: London: Collins, 1989.

This might be helpful. The "barge" was a Thames lighter which had been fitted out as an accomodation barge: it was towed across the Channel and along various European waterways by a small Thames tug called Leontyne, owned by the author. I enjoyed reading it and also the 13-part television series made about the trip. I think there's a copy of the book on Abe Books for £8.

29-01-07, 20:28
Slightly tongue in cheek, but you could try reading "The Unlikely Voyage of Jack de Crow" by A J Mackinnon.

Swimbo bought it as a christmas pressy for me and I've only got to where he is about to cross the channel. Great fun and if he can get to the Black Sea in a Mirror Dinghy, then I'm sure you'll have no trouble. /forums/images/graemlins/laugh.gif

29-01-07, 20:34
Does the "i" in Swimbo stand for "immediately"? /forums/images/graemlins/confused.gif

29-01-07, 20:46
Great book!


29-01-07, 20:50
I'm sure it will be a great adventure But when you get there ! (http://www.iaea.org/Publications/Booklets/UndpBook/black_sea.html)

29-01-07, 21:12
Last year through Odessa it took 10 mins from plane steps to meeting inlaws in terminal.

Ukraine got a lot better even under Kuchma, but those in the East want to return to mother Russua, those in the West want to westernise. It has always been the crossroads between East and West.


29-01-07, 21:14
One of the magazines had an article about a small yacht making this passage about a year/18 months back.

Biggest problem was his power verus the river currents.

29-01-07, 21:30
I had good experiences with the Odessan airport officials too, in the days when visas were necessary. /forums/images/graemlins/smile.gif Generally officialdom down in the south of the country take life a lot less seriously.

As you say, there's a difference between East and West. Especially around Lvov in the west they hate to hear people speaking Russian (which is the first language of the great majority of the country, so they spend a lot of their time looking distressed). The East is more Russian-looking, not so much because they love Moscow, more because they get annoyed by the excesses of the Ukrainian nationalists who insist on all newspapers, radio etc being in Ukrainian even though most of them barely speak it. Also the new western-looking government has been involved in quite a few scandals and there is a lot of speculation about mafia connections etc. which isn't making them popular.

Down in the south everyone's more relaxed - and the most laid back place of all, the Crimea, is very Russian - it even managed to get a derogation from having street signs etc. in Russian rather than Ukrainian. After all, it used to be part of Russia before Khrushchev gave it to Ukraine as a present in Soviet times when the difference was academic anyway.

There's a good book about the Black Sea, and especially the Crimea being a cross-roads of cultures, by Neal Ascherson called (not surprisingly) "The Black Sea". Also an excellent book (written incidentally by someone I knew at college) called "Borderland" ('Ukraina' means roughly "Country on the edge")

30-01-07, 07:42
Yes, the article (long) was in PBO and done by 2 guys in 18 months in, I think, approx 22ft mtor cruiser with a BMC Commander engine. They recommended the boat be capable of 8 knots, and navigaing was not simple in the more rural areas of East Europe where they crossed flood areas by withy with little chart or pilotage info. All in all an inspiring way to do it. We are inspired.

This is what Full Circle will be doing as one of her first tasks when we set off. One of the reasons for having a lift keel and a decent Yanmar!

I am not at home next to the pile, so cant advise the issue date/number of the mag article, sorry.

30-01-07, 14:59
thanks, will try to find the article.

30-01-07, 15:11
Yes, we read the Cooper's book some years ago but wondered if there was more up to date info. Jackie

30-01-07, 15:16
thanks for that - shall spend time searching PBO site. If you find the issue I would be grateful for further details. We are unlikely to leave Paris before end april, then plan a leisurely routle to Strasbourg which we have decided is make up your mind time. Jackie

30-01-07, 16:35
Didn't Rod Heikel write a book about this journey in the last couple of years?

30-01-07, 17:59
Would also say do not just turn right but potter east along the Ukraine coast.


30-01-07, 18:09
There's a very decent yacht basin on the Rhine (French bank) a few clicks upstream of Strassie, which used to have a decent resto called La Neptune. Not a bad place to park, while you're making up your minds.

13-03-07, 07:47
I am a belgium motorsailboat and I make this trip.
Belgium, france, austria, black sea. My sailing boat is in vienne in Austria now. In 15 days, I travel since black sea by the danube.
It is very nice. You must be have time...
If you have some "questions", I can help you
François on "Pandora"

13-03-07, 09:08
Are you in Oostende the last weekend of May? Quite a few people from here meet in Oostende every year!

13-03-07, 15:32
No, I'll be on the Donau . I'll be near Budapest in May
Have a good time in Ostend !

16-03-07, 07:23
How fast is the Donau flowing? Can you tie up where you wish?And how are the moorings?Are they stone keys in town? How much commercial traffic is there?

Sounds like fun!Id like to make that trip down to the Black sea but at my speed that wont be untill 2009! I have huge problems to unglue my lines and move on when i find a comefortable mooring with power(sometimes) and water in a quite village/town with good cafes and free!!

19-03-07, 20:39
My sailboat is 12 mètres long and I have 1,8 m draft.
My speed is maximum 6,5 knots.
There are many marinas to stop.
We have no problem about that.