(text: Tomasz Jabłoński, Charter Navigator)

Over one and a half years ago, I described how to sail a barge with a small kid. Then we went together with five-year-old Kuba to Alsace, France (article on the expedition appeared in a Polish sailing magazine under the title « A five-year-old captain – a barge cruise from a child’s point of view »).  Now it’s time for the babies.



We start our adventure in Cracow. The aim was one of the Nicols’ bases in Wustrau, Germany. We chartered a Sedan 1010 barge with 3 cabins and two toilets. Unit can be steered from the inside, as well as from the deck. Water tank has capacity of 600 liters which is enough for 2 days of sailing. The crew consisted of two children (Julianna, 7 months, and Maja, 4 months old), 6-year-old Kuba and three adults (me, the author of the article, my wife and her sister).

Julianna 7 months Maja 4 months

The youngest crewmate: Julianna 7 months, Maja 4 months.

The group which might have problems with navigating a yacht, did pretty well on a barge. Let me remind you once again – I’m not saying that sailing a yacht is boring, or that the barge is always better. At some point in our lives it is a pretty nice way of spending free time, if someone likes vacation on the water. Sailing a barge is not difficult itself, and even if an embarrassing maneuver happened, there is no reason to panic – you will be fine. I witnessed five men in advanced age trying to moor the barge near the lock. None of them got annoyed, even though there were many attempts to moor.

Our barge - Sedan 1010

Our barge – Sedan 1010

>> See the part 2/3

(text: Tomasz Jabłoński, Charter Navigator)

When planning a trip with such young children, we need to make some preparation first. Unfortunately, I must admit that usually mums know much more than daddies about that and that is why it is difficult for me to write about all aspects. It’s nothing new if I write that all children are different. Their behavior during car trip depends on age. Route from Kraków to Wustrau takes around 7-9 hours. Unfortunately we had a “small” adventure. We arrived to Wustrau late at night after 11 hours of driving. Why? I will write a little about it further on.

Every parent knows that it is good if the child is sleepy before the car trip. That gives us at the beginning of a journey 1.5 – 2 hour nap in the car. Later it gets harder. Feeding, changing diapers, etc., etc. After a nap, small kids can stay calm in a car for several minutes only. Thus, stops are necessary. It is difficult to predict exactly how many stops will be needed. I think we should plan to have a stop every 3 hours. Of course as I wrote before, every child is different. I should mention that for the 4-month-old Maja, 8 hour trip wasn’t a problem at all. We bear in mind also the worst-case scenario, namely, that we will have to spend a night in the middle of the route. A very, very pessimistic option, but it is good to consider it.

Going on such a journey we should take toys for kids but it’s rather obvious. For me, indispensable gadget is car inverter. A mug with heater option (plugged to 12 v socket) might be a good idea. You can heat up baby food (if mother does not breast-feed). Let us remember that young children need to have a passport or an ID. If I remember correctly, waiting for a passport lasts around 30 days. Crossing borders in the Schengen area is without border controls, but if you are stopped by the police or other authority control, you have to prove that the children in the car are yours. We experienced that few kilometers before the German border. Our car was stopped by Polish Border Guard.

Let us remember that together with baby we need to take… a stroller. Therefore we need to choose barge which will have enough space for it. Also we need to consider taking a travel cot. Not all cabins are big enough to accommodate them. Therefore, let’s find out in advance whether your model is large enough. Of course, there is always an option to sleep with the baby in one bad, but every parent has their habits. You should also take a bathtub for infants. I suggest inflatable. It does not need much space in a car and on a barge it really does the job. Some of the Nicols barges have storage closets where you can leave big and rarely used items.

As I mentioned, our trip took a little bit longer than was planned, and that is because of the driver (yes, it was me). Driver mistook Nicols base in Wustrau near Neuruppin for a located 30 km  to the north village of Wustrow. It took nearly two hours took to locate each other, us and the base manager. Seeing his face when we finally met was priceless. Apparently, we were the first who made that mistake. I hope that after this article there will be no further followers.

Nicols base in Wustrau

Nicols base in Wustrau

Because of our late arrival, check-in was done next day morning. Interesting was that all barges had in their inventory a bow thruster. Believe me, sailing cannot be easier. So, if anyone still fears chartering barges, believe me … models in Wustrau are very easy to operate.

>> See part 3/3

(text: Tomasz Jabłoński, Charter Navigator)

Units feature heating which is very important when you have kids on board, especially when you sail in months of low night temperature. Heating on Nicols barges requires gas and each cabin has an air pipe. I recommend checking if all pipes work properly. Temperature can be regulated and there is no problem if we leave it turned on for the night.

Wustrau and its surroundings are quite easy for sailing. Our route led through Wustrau – Lindow – Oranienburg and back to Wustrau. On the entire route we crossed locks maybe a couple of times. As I mentioned before sailing area is quite easy. If someone lives close to Berlin (Wustrau is located about 80 km north of the capital of Germany) and fears of chartering a boat, then I think he should come here and practice for couple of days.



For those with little more time and with relevant motorboat licenses, I suggest trip to Berlin. Unfortunately, without proper licenses, our boat will take us only up to « die Schleuse Pinnow » in Oranienburg.

This is an area where you can go fishing. Therefore it may be worth to take fishing rod. Permission for seven days costs from 10 € to 30 € depending on fish species.

During our cruise, babies behave almost perfectly. To be honest more attention was focused on 6-year-old Kuba, who is in age when you keep asking lots of questions no matter if they make sense or not. On board we did not have children between 1-3 years, but it is worth to mention that sailing with them is a little bit more complicated. Energy resources must be spent somewhere and sometimes barge’s deck may be too small. Maybe I will write about it during our next trip?

Return to Cracow went quick and without a single incident. This time the driver did not mistake the city of destination for any other.

Julianna as a captain Kuba with mom

Julianna as a captain – Kuba with mom

PS Many thanks and greetings to the base manager Frank – for the help and patience on day 1 :)

We spent a holiday weekend on a barge between Port Lauragais and Castelnaudary – we loved the peace and quiet, cycle rides, the trip to Not pottery, and a delicious cassoulet… in Castelnaudary, of course!

Michèle D.

15 décembre, 2014Nice nature, sea

  • By : David /Czech Republic
  • Novice sailor : No
  • Type of crew : Family
  • Dates & duration : 12/07/2014 – one week
  • Base/Region/Boat : Bellegarde / Camargue / C 900

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