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WorldNorth AtlanticNorth SeaBalticWestern EuropeCentral EuropeGermany
52°31.000'N, 013°23.000'E Chart icon.png
Germany flag.png
Capital Berlin
Language German
Currency Euro €
Time zone CET (UTC+1) , DST: CEST (UTC+2)
Calling code +49

For history see Germany (History).

The German Bight

The German Bight is one of the most challenging sailing areas. At the same time the sailor is confronted with tidal conditions, shallow depths, dence traffic on comparably narrow space and the for this area typical weather pattern of passing frontal systems. The coast lines are low and without significant structure and when sailing over safe depth 10 meters or more, the shoreline can indeed be miles away. The inshore areas are characterized by sandy shallows that can change rapidly.

Commercial traffic and Traffic Separation Schemes

The German Bight is a water of heavy commercial traffic coming in from the south western North Sea with destinations in the River Jade, Weser or Elbe (continuing through the Kiel Kanal at Brunsbüttel or to Europe's second biggest Port of Hamburg). To safely manage the dence traffic a huge system of Traffic Separation Schemes (TSS) has been installed, starting with the TSS Dover Strait and adjacent waters, continuing in the Southern North Sea off the coast of Belgium and the Netherlands and splitting off into the Off Botney Grounds TSS and the West Frisian TSS, that unite at about 54°05'N, 004°20'E to the TSS German Bight Western Approach.

Another system of TSS is installed more inshore: the Off Texel TSS continues into the TSS Terschelling-German Bight. At the eastern end the TSS German Bight Western Approach and the TSS Tershelling-German Bight merge into the TSS Jade Approach and the TSS Elbe Approach.

It is strongly recommended to avoid these areas wherever possible – the crossing of all TSS has to be done according to Rule 10 ( c ) of the International Regulations for Preventing Collisions at Sea (IRPCS): on a heading as nearly as practicable at right angles to the general direction of traffic flow. You must keep in mind the wind and tidal impact and as the TSS in the German Bight are under constant radar surveillance it is more strongly advised to even keep a reasonable course by using the motor, if the ground speed falls below 3knots or this course cannot be obtained.

Between the chain of Frisian Islands and the TSS Terschelling-German Bight an Inshore Traffic Zone (ITZ) is installed between the northern End of Texel and the western End of Wangerooge. This zone should be used by incoming or outgoing yachts. Except in the River Ems approach there won't be any commercial traffic, exept local fishing, but that also at night.

When beating to windward it is no problem using the entire width of the ITZ, but make sure not to enter the TSS and on the shore side not to go beyond the 10 meter line: a good orientation are the lighted approach buoys for the marked fairways to the harbours of the East Frisian Islands. (Most of the buoys marking the fairways are not lit!). On stronger onshore winds it is even advisable to stay further out to avoid breaking seas over shallow water.

There are marked inshore waterways behind the islands and the Wadden Sea that can be even used under stronger wind conditions, but they fall dry half of the time. This is a perfect sailing area for boats with variable or shallow draught, but keep to the watt chans marked with special withies and as most of these areas are National Parks, special rules apply. The parks are divided into 3 zones, whereas in Zone 1 (resting zone for wild life) drying out is not permitted. The zones are shown on the charts. For sailing ‘behind’ the islands you need up to date charts, as the sands - and therefore the watt chans - can change rapidly from season to season.

Entering the Seegaten

“If in doubt – keep out”

All Seegaten are dangerous on the ebb tide even under moderate onshore wind conditions. Under stormy conditions consider the Seegaten as unpassable. Never try to approach at night without local knowledge. Navigation in the Seegaten is eyeball-navigation: due to sanddrift bouys can be relocated. Don’t trust a buoy in a breaking seas. Use only up to date chart material. Even under moderate to fresh on shore winds of Bft 4-5 (13 to 18 kn) the sea state in the Seegaten can be rough.

As most of the harbours along the East Frisian and North Frisian coast are located 'behind' the islands, they can only be reached by passing through the Seegaten between the islands. These Gatts should not be entered at night and it is dangerous to enter under fresh- to strong onshore winds and it is even impossible to do so under stormy conditions.

If the decision is made to enter a Seegat, prepare your boat for rough sea conditions (close hatches and ports and adjust sail area that enables you to turn around and go to windward, if necessary and put you engine on standby), and make sure to pass the approach bouy on the last quarter of the rising tide. With onshore winds you avoid the wind against sea conditions, you have lots of water under your keel and you will reach the destination at high tide. Final decision to enter the Seegat is made at the approach bouy – later on it can be tricky or even impossible to turn around.

Under onshore-wind-conditions be prepared that the sea state can get rougher as you approach the shallow sand bar, which is mostly situated between the second and third pair of bouys marking the Seegat. Be sure that you spotted at least the first and second pair of buoys in the Seegat. If not, do not enter.

In the first third of the Seegat you have to consider a tidal stream from abeam - check your drift. Once you pass the bar, sea conditions improve instantly and the tidal current is with you.

Leaving the Seegaten When leaving under conditions of on shore winds you should leave on a rising tide at a point where you reach the approach bouy on slack. That leaves you the chance to return on the still incoming tide in case you decide to turn around, or, if you continue, you won’t have to cope with a wind against tide situation on the sand bar. Be prepared to have some hard (and wet) moments beating to windward in a short steep sea under engine or if you choose to sail, don’t wait too long with the next tack at the edges of the Seegaten. As you reach the approach bouy, the sea state will ease.

The Seegaten from West to East

West of Borkum

Coming from the west the river Ems is the first major waterway leading to the harbours of Eemshaven and Delfzijl in the Netherlands and to Emden, Leer and Papenburg on the German side. The approach can be done through the well buoyed Hubertusgat or the Westerems. The Westerems is advised at night. Both can be dangerous with ebb stream and fresh to strong winds from W to NW. Do not try to pass through the Osterems, which is much shallower and poorly marked. Via Hubertusgat or Wedsterems you also reach the harbours of Borkum.

Between Juist and Norderney

The Seegat west of Norderney is a deep chan but its offshore shoals can be dangerous. Two shallow bouyed channes (Dovetief as the main chan and Schluchter to the east with more protection unter north easterly winds) lead over the shoals. Further inshore the Seegat continues towards the harbour of Norderney, and southwest of the island the bouyed Bustief continues southward towards the tidal harbour of Norddeich.

Between Norderney and Baltrum

The Wichter Ee, the Seegat between Norderney and Baltrum is not marked and cannot be used.

Between Baltrum and Langeoog

West of the island of Langeoog the Seegat Accumer Ee leads to the harbour of Langeoog and further on the the mainland harbours of Dornumer Siel, Accumer Siel and Bensersiel. The depths in the chan vary considerable due to silting, the buoyes are moved respectively.

Between Langeoog and Spiekeroog

Two chans lead inward: The deeper Otzumer Balje (upto 2m) and the Westerbalje. Both are bouyed. Both tend to sild up and should be used only under good weather conditions.

West of Wangerooge

The Harle chan leads west of Wangerooge and the Dove Harle leads to the harbour of Wangerooge. The Harle chan continues to the harbour of Harlesiel.

East of Wangerooge

The eastern most Seegat is the Blaue Balje. It is marked and leads between Wangerooge and the little island Minsener Oog. This chan is dangerous in northerly winds.


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Chart Number - Chart Name
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Submit the climate & general weather details here. For very large countries remove this section and cover weather in Region ( Region Template) pages.

Weather links

Sources of weather forecasting here.


List popular passages/routes, timing, etc.


Also see World Cruiser's Nets.


  • When motorsailing, a black cone (with its apex pointing downwards) must be displayed.
  • Yachts must carry on board the German collision regulations (Seeschiffahrtsstrassenordnung) and the Kiel Canal Rules (obtained at the canal entrance)
  • Children under 15 years may not steer any vessel under way in German waters. In certain rivers this minimum age is 21 or 23 (confirm locally).
  • Motor vessels and (sometimes) sailing yachts require special permission to use some of the inland waterways.


  • On arrival in (or departure from) Germany, you must clear both immigration and customs at a port that has a Bundespolizei Office. Phone their Head Office in Hamburg on +49 40 66995050 to check availability at your intended port of entry if that intended port is small.
  • Fly the Q flag on arrival, unless arriving from an EU or Scandinavian country. Yachts arriving from a non-EU country must report to customs (Zoll) at one of the ports of entry.
  • Kiel Canal - If passing through the Kiel Canal, but not visiting Germany, the 3rd substitute pennant must be flown. Laboe, at the entrance of the Kiel fjord, is the customs clearance point for yachts entering or leaving Germany via Kiel.
  • No formalities are required for yachts arriving from, or departing for Poland.

Documents Required

  • All crew's passports
  • 2 crew lists - 1 will be stamped and must to be produced when checking out of Germany.
  • Original vessel registration document
  • Current insurance policy document
  • Ship's radio licence
  • A radio operator's certificate (held by a crewmember)
  • Copy of the German ColRegs (Seeshiffahrtsstrassen-Ordnung) - (in German is OK)
  • EU registered vessels must produce proof of VAT status
  • The skipper's certificate of competence, if such certificate is required in skipper's home country.

Customs and Immigration


  • Duty-free stores must be declared on arrival
  • Firearms and ammunition must be declared on arrival - these will be sealed on board.
  • EU regulations apply concerning temporary importation of vessels.
  • PETS: Animals are accepted if arriving under the Pet Travel Scheme(PETS) with a Pet Passport, current Health Certificate, current Rabies Vaccination and have been microchipped and blood tested by a recognised Veterinarian prior to entry.


Germany is a member of the Schengen Agreement Area.

Fees and Charges


  • Vessels built after 1980 and over 10.5m long and over 2.8m wide must be equipped with waste tanks. An exemption may be applied to foreign registered vessels on a visit to Germany for only one season.
  • Strict anti-pollution regulations are in force throughout Germany, the Baltic Sea in particular. Garbage disposal is forbidden anywhere in the Baltic. Degradable foodstuff may only be disposed of overboard in excess of 12 miles offshore. Dispose garbage and used oils in the special containers provided in all ports.

Health and Security


Submit any health warnings/information. Remove any of these sections do not apply to this particular country.




Key to symbols: |Island icon – island |Port of entry icon – port of entry |Harbour icon – harbour |Marina icon – marina |Anchorage icon – anchorage |Needs data icon – needs data ||
Baltic North Sea Kiel Canal Frisian Islands
Flensburg Flensburg /wiki/Flensburg Port of entry icon – port of entry |Harbour icon – harbour |Needs data icon – needs data |
Heiligenhafen Heiligenhafen /wiki/Heiligenhafen Harbour icon – harbour |Needs data icon – needs data |
Kuhlungsborn Kuhlungsborn /wiki/Kuhlungsborn Marina icon – marina |Needs data icon – needs data |
Rostock (Warnemunde) Rostock (Warnemunde) /wiki/Rostock_(Warnemunde) Port of entry icon – port of entry |Marina icon – marina |Needs data icon – needs data |
Rugen Island (Rügen)Rugen Island (Rügen)/wiki/Rugen_Island Island icon – island |Harbour icon – harbour |Needs data icon – needs data |
Stralsund Stralsund /wiki/Stralsund Port of entry icon – port of entry |Harbour icon – harbour |Needs data icon – needs data |
Travemunde (Lubeck) Travemunde (Lubeck) /wiki/Travemunde_(Lubeck) Port of entry icon – port of entry |Marina icon – marina |Needs data icon – needs data |
Wismar Wismar /wiki/Wismar Port of entry icon – port of entry |Harbour icon – harbour |Needs data icon – needs data |
Bremerhaven Bremerhaven /wiki/Bremerhaven Port of entry icon – port of entry |Harbour icon – harbour |Needs data icon – needs data |
Cuxhaven Cuxhaven /wiki/Cuxhaven Island icon – island |Port of entry icon – port of entry |Harbour icon – harbour |Marina icon – marina |
Dornumer-Accumersiel Dornumer-Accumersiel /wiki/Dornumer-Accumersiel Harbour icon – harbour |Needs data icon – needs data |
Emden Emden /wiki/Emden Port of entry icon – port of entry |Harbour icon – harbour |Needs data icon – needs data |
HamburgHamburg/wiki/Hamburg,_Germany Port of entry icon – port of entry |Harbour icon – harbour |Marina icon – marina |
Norddeich Norddeich /wiki/Norddeich Port of entry icon – port of entry |Marina icon – marina |Needs data icon – needs data |
Wilhelmshaven Wilhelmshaven /wiki/Wilhelmshaven Port of entry icon – port of entry |Harbour icon – harbour |Needs data icon – needs data |
Brunsbuttel Brunsbuttel /wiki/Brunsbuttel Port of entry icon – port of entry |Harbour icon – harbour |Needs data icon – needs data |
Kiel (Kieler Hafen) Kiel (Kieler Hafen) /wiki/Kiel_(Kieler_Hafen) Port of entry icon – port of entry |Harbour icon – harbour |Needs data icon – needs data |
Kiel-Holtenau Kiel-Holtenau /wiki/Kiel-Holtenau Port of entry icon – port of entry |Harbour icon – harbour |Needs data icon – needs data |
Helgoland Helgoland /wiki/Helgoland Island icon – island |Port of entry icon – port of entry |Harbour icon – harbour |Marina icon – marina |
Borkum Borkum /wiki/Borkum Island icon – island |Port of entry icon – port of entry |Harbour icon – harbour |Marina icon – marina |
Norderney Norderney /wiki/Norderney Island icon – island |Port of entry icon – port of entry |Harbour icon – harbour |Needs data icon – needs data |
Wangerooge Wangerooge /wiki/Wangerooge Island icon – island |Harbour icon – harbour |Needs data icon – needs data |
Sylt Sylt /wiki/Sylt Island icon – island |Harbour icon – harbour |Marina icon – marina |Needs data icon – needs data |
Amrum Amrum /wiki/Amrum Island icon – island |Needs data icon – needs data |
Föhr Föhr /wiki/F%C3%B6hr Island icon – island |Marina icon – marina |Needs data icon – needs data |


List transportation to other countries, etc.


Contact details of "Cruiser's Friends" that can be contacted for local information or assistance.


List links to discussion threads on partnering forums. (see link for requirements)



  • Sejlerens Marina Guide. This is a free of charge guide (in German and some texts in Danish) that is available in most marina's harbour masters offices. The 'volume' 4 covers most of the German harbours, marinas and landings along the North Sea and Baltis Sea shores
It does not replace a harbour pilot with its detailed information on navigation and on approaches but it contains chartlets and general information on the harbours, some general information and commercial advertisements connected to boating and tourism in the area. Please note, that not all harbours are covered, but this magazine type of publication provides a pretty good overview and there is a new issue every year.
It also covers the German harbours along the North Sea Shore line including the estuaries of the rivers Ems, Weser and Elbe. It contains passage information and has valuable information on tides, approaches and radio, it has chartlets of the harbours and it is in English. Unfortunately, it does not cover the Baltic Sea. There is a new edition every year.


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