Wednesday, July 27, 2005

Prague Trip Report, Part 10: Boating info

Yacht Club Alfa south of Vysehrad
Boater’s info:

The Czech Yacht Club does have a piece of its web page in English but they didn't answer an e-mail and the one time I was by their gate it was very early in the morning and no one was around. Language barriers might affect "approachability" but they don't look too snooty -- a large, rambling, but not at all fancy clubhouse and a quite small population of boats; quite a few vacant slips were on the side of the harbor away from the club. Perhaps about 20 or so cabin sailboats were in the harbor (pristavni) or on land, including one large catamaran plus several sailing dinghies or small keelboats. The boats looked rather modest by and large. No evidence of any significant liveaboards, except there was also an "Alfa Yacht Club" whose clubhouse was a floating barge that looked like it might have had some sort of living accommodation.

Sailing was discouraged strongly during the communist years as a "bourgeois" sport. (For example, during the communist years, Czechoslovakia was the only Iron Curtain country in which golf was even legal.)

If I had had more time, I likely would have caught up with folks at the Česky Jacht Klub. I took a picture of the club and marina from the castle ruins above and hope to download and print it soon.

The Vltava in Prague has weirs with locks to the side for boats; we watched some river cruise boats enter the lock, which rises and falls about 8 feet. Bridge clearances in Prague max out at about 20 to 25 feet, so masts would have to be down for all but the smallest boats, since there are many more bridges than locks. Some of the larger river cruise boats have folding smokestacks so they can manage the bridges.

The Vlatava is about 900' wide, 10' deep in mid-channel, and flows quite swiftly, though not as swiftly as it used to when there weren't any dams upstream, such as the one that created Lake Lipno, a place where Czechs go to sail. Nonetheless, in the winter of early 2002 many places near the river were seriously damaged by flooding.

Shortly downstream from Prague the Vltava flows into the Elbe, which flows all the way to the Baltic Sea, so a mast-down boat could come up from the ocean. There is also a Rhine-Main-Danube interconnection further west/southwest in Europe and lots of other places where rivers and canals connect. You can take a whole vacation as a passenger on a river boat, or just take a one-hour scenic cruise or longer dinner cruise. Rowboats and paddle boats can be rented in a couple of spots; some other rentals might be available but I didn't have time to check.


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