Kiel Canal

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Kiel Canal
Baltic entry
54°21.5′N, 10°9.65′E Chart icon.png
North Sea entry
53°53.2′N, 09°7.8′E Chart icon.png
Kiel Canal.jpg
German Kiel Canal

Sailing from the Netherland coast to the Baltic, the Kiel Canal is the most frequented route by pleasure yachts. Via the safe harbours Borkum, Helgoland, Cuxhaven, the canal begins in Brunsbuttel, Elbe river and goes to Kiel-Holtenau, Baltic.

The Kiel Canal (German: Nord-Ostsee-Kanal), until 1948 known as the Kaiser-Wilhelm-Kanal, is a 61 miles (98 kilometres) long canal in the German Bundesland Schleswig-Holstein that links the North Sea at Brunsbüttel to the Baltic Sea at Kiel-Holtenau. An average of 280 nautical miles (519 kilometers) is saved by using the Kiel Canal instead of going around the Jutland Peninsula. This not only saves time but also avoids potentially dangerous storm-prone seas. It is considered to be the most heavily used artificial seaway in the world; over 43,000 ships passed through in 2007, excluding small craft.


Map Kiel Canal

See also Germany.


See Germany.


List popular passages/routes, timing, etc.


VHF Channel 13 (Call Kiel-Kanal I) Lockarea Brunsbüttel

VHF Channel 2 (Call Kiel-Kanal II) Route Brunsbüttel - Breiholz

VHF Channel 3 (Call Kiel-Kanal III) Route Breiholz - Kiel-Holtenau

VHF Channel 12 (Call Kiel-Kanal IV) Lockarea Kiel-Holtenau


Canal Entry/Exit

Brunsbuttel entrance from the River Elbe: - World icon.png 53°53.2′N, 09°7.8′E

Closely east of the entrance basins you find the "waiting area" for small pleasure craft intending to enter the canal. Under certain wind and tide conditions the waiting can be quite unpleasant. Beware of tidal currents setting in this area. The waiting area is camera surveilled and the lockmaster will see waiting yachts. Please do not wait in the entrance areas or even the entrance basins of the locks - pilot boats are leaving and entering these easterly basins constantly at great speed.

Yachts are allowed to enter the lock, if a single white occulting light is shown on the signalmast. Most times this will happen on the easterly signal mast, managing the easterly (older and smaller)lock system. Very seldom entrance permission is given for the western (and bigger locks , that are heavily used for the commercial shipping.)All other light combinations do not affect pleasure boats. Please be patient, sometimes it can take some time, until permission to enter is given.

Once in the entrance basin you go straight forward into the open lock - the lock signal mast will also tell you by a single white occulting light, which lock to enter.

In the lock you tie up to the rings on the floating pontoons (wooden logs with an anti-skid rubber surface). Do not tie up to the rings in the wall, depending on the tidal situation the water level will rise more or less.

If you choose to stay in Brunsbuttel just turn to port - the pleasure boat harbour is situated close west of the new locks. Leaving the yacht there has to be negotiated with the harbour master.


Kiel-Holtenau entrance from the Baltic Sea: - World icon.png 54°21.5′N, 10°9.65′E

Approach is best on the eastern side of the Kiel Fjord, after you have passed the narrows of the Friedrichsort-Lighthouse. But be aware of the small prohibited area closely southwest of the lighthouse - it is clearly marked. Continue your way into the Fjord towards Kiel until you see the signal masts of the channel entrance on starboard. The waiting area is on the northern side of the locks, just in front of the Kiel-Holtenau pleasure boat harbour in the entrance area of the (older and smaller) northern locks, which normally manages the pleasure boat traffic. The same entrance procedure as in Brunsbuttel applies: single white occulting light shows permission to enter the locks. Tie up to the rings on the wooden pontoons.

Payment of the canal fees:

If travelling the entire canal all fees are paid in the lock master's tower in Kiel-Holtenau - this applies to both directions. You only pay to the lockmaster in Brunsbuttel, if you intend to leave the canal at the Giselau Lock (to continue down the river Eider back to the North Sea) or if you enter the canal here with the destination as Brunsbuttel.

Current Fees: per Dec 2018:

  • < 10 m 12 €
  • > 10 m - 12 m 18 €
  • > 12 m - 16 m 35 €
  • > 16 m - 20 m 41 €
  • > 20 m 43 €


Transit of Kiel Canal

All necessary information for the canal passage can be obtained from the info sheet, published by the Wasser-und Schiffahrtsamt Nord. (See below in the section 'external links'.)

NOTE on Lake Flemhude: This is a marked anchorage

NOTE on the siding Dückerswisch: There are wooden poles to tie up fore and aft.


Marinas & Yacht Clubs

Additional yacht harbours in the Kiel canal:

  • At about Km 66 (north side) you can leave the Kiel Canal into the Ober-Eider, continuing to Rendsburg.

Two marinas are at hand (fuel on the pontoon) - the yacht harbour run by the local sailing club Regatta Verein Rendsburg is situated close to downtown Rendsburg, with all facilities and the railway station close by. A well protected marina to leave a boat for a longer period of time - please negotiate with the harbour master.

  • At Km 67,5 (on the north side) another small marina is situated in the Borgdtedter Enge. Also fuel on the pontoon, shops are in the small village of Borgstedt.


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)



See Germany.


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