Now that the weather is nice and sunny again, here is what it looked like only last Saturday. It wasn’t even really stormy, but windy enough so that the ships leaving the locks at Kiel Holtenau were working a lot harder than usual. Especially difficult when you are almost empty and then there is a lot of wind! See that wake?
Right behind the ship you see above, there was a second ship leaving the locks. See how milky the water looks where the first ship went from all the air bubbles that were pushed under water by the ship’s propeller? You can even see some of that water spreading underneath that floating barrier in the foreground!
And see the difference between the waves on the upwind side of the ship and the downwind side?
Here is the picture that my friend sent me that she took from inside of the café that we were sitting in before I HAD to go outside and take pictures. If I am being sent pictures of my back every week by my friends, are they trying to tell me something? :-D
On Sunday, I set out to see a large cruise liner go through the locks at Kiel Holtenau.
What happened, though, was that a ship with a smiley painted on its deck came first. Do you see the two shadows to the right of the ship, the left one aligning with the one side of the wake’s V? That’s the pillars the bridge is resting on.
This ship has a very interesting wake, since it consists of several Vs. Not quite sure why. Also, it seems to be driving in a very non-straight line, judging by its turbulent wake.
But watch what happens when the wake hits the sides of the canal.
The green thingy interrupts the straight line of the shore and creates these beautiful ring waves!
A little while later they have spread half way across the channel, while on the other side, the wake is just reflected on the shore.
It looks funny how the reflections are so asymmetrical relative to the ship, but of course the ship isn’t driving in the middle of the channel, so they have to be.
And on the other side of Kiel fjord? Yep, the cruise liner speeding past the locks. Clearly they decided to not take the shortcut through Kiel canal.
And now the small ferry is starting to cross. And in the background: The cruise liner!
I realize the earlier pictures in this posts were a lot nicer than these, but look how funny: Above you see the small ferry going around the larger ship, and the wake tracking where it went on its turn. And below, it has turned into a V! Waves are funny.
Some throwback Friday evening wave watching (at the locks at Kiel Holtenau with my friend Sara for a nice and relaxing end of the week) to start the new week. The best!
First: The pilot boat going towards the locks. Unusually visible wake — they are going fast today! Plus an interesting sheltering of waves: The wind is coming towards us so outside of those floating pontoons are a lot larger than the ones on this side that haven’t had enough fetch to build up.
Below we see the same wake: But do you see how it’s just ending on the left? That’s because the pilot boat went in behind the jetty on the far side of the fjord, and it’s only these bits of the wake that were able to propagate outside before the boat went in and the waves don’t make it out of the small channel created by the jetty.
And below the pilot boat going out again in a curve: Love how you see the turbulent wake as well as the deformed V-shaped feathery wake. When you look from the pilot boat down on the picture, do you see the individual “feathers” of the V? Love this perspective on wakes!
And this is what you will see of me when you meet me for a coffee anywhere near water. Sorry Sara, but thanks for the picture! :-)
Yes, we are back to wake watching! Today I went to a new-to-me wave watching spot: The bridge across Kiel canal close to the Holtenau locks, which you see in the background of the picture below. And I should have checked out my favourite ship tracking app for better timing, I had to wait for quite some time before there were any ships apart from the small ferry which you see crossing right at the locks! But the wait was well worth it in the end!
In these pictures, you see very clearly the different parts of the wake. The turbulent wake right behind the ship where the ship has displaced a large volume of water and where the ship’s propeller has induced a lot of turbulence. The turbulent wake is bound by the foam created by the breaking bow waves. And outside of all of this, the V of the feathery wake opens up with the ship at its tip.
I am super excited about these pictures. Do you see the wake reflecting on the right (south) side of the Kiel canal?
And while it was pretty easy to interpret the pictures above, and the one below is still fair game because the turbulent wake of the third ship is still clearly visible, even though the ship is not, it is getting more and more complicated, isn’t it?
But now, with two of the three ships gone, it has suddenly gotten a lot more complicated. And it doesn’t help that the sides of the canal aren’t completely straight which leads to the mess in the lower right corner…
This is definitely a new favourite wave watching spot which you might see more of in the future! This stuff makes me so happy :-)
Beautiful morning arriving back in Kiel… Looking downwind, the weather might seem pleasant (especially when focussing on the sunrise).
But looking upwind however, the wind rows on the water as well as the white caps on the waves indicate that it’s quite windy!
Very cool: the turbulent wake of a ship interrupts the wave field and therefore, with its different surface roughness, is clearly visible!
And below you see so many things: The sand bank running from the lighthouse towards the next headland becomes visible as waves are breaking on it. The turbulent wake of that blue ship we saw above already is still clearly visible, as is its V-shaped wake. And you see our own wake as the feathery pattern that runs all the way from the bottom edge of the picture to way behind the blue ship!
And here our own wake becomes even more prominent as we turn. Laboe in the background…
Here is another ship, waiting to enter the locks of the Kiel canal. It’s moving only very slowly (so hardly any wake visible), but you see how it’s sheltering the water from the wind so the downwind water appears completely smooth right at the ship!
And here are some more wakes and sheltered spots of water surfaces. Locks of the Kiel canal in the background!
And another look at the locks. Do you notice how the wind rows still indicate that it’s quite windy, but how it’s a lot less windy than it was further out?
And then we are in the Kiel fjord. This is the upwind shore — see how waves are only slowly forming and building up with longer and longer fetch?
And then in the sheltered port a different kind of waves: Our bow propellers mixing the inner Kiel fjord!
So many people are surprised when I speak of wave watching as of a “real activity”. But to me it is! So I am going to talk you through a couple of minutes I spent looking out on the water where the Kiel Canal meets the Kiel fjord, right outside the locks at Kiel Holtenau.
A light breeze across the fjord
The “light breeze” part is fairly easy to observe: There are ripples on the water, but no actual waves. “Across the fjord” is also fairly obvious if you look at either side of the wave breaker: On the fjord side, there are ripples, on the shore side, there are none (or hardly any), indicating that the wave breaker is sheltering the shore-side from the wind (and dampening out the waves that come across the fjord).
And then: A ship sails into view!
We watch the ship sail past, dreaming of foreign countries and exciting adventures.
A ship leaving a wake
Behind the ship, the water looks very different from what it looks like everywhere else. The wake is turbulent and waves radiate outwards like a V, with the ship always at its tip.
Then, the ship is gone. But we can still see where it went.
There are no waves in the tubulent wake
The ship’s path is completely smooth. No waves have invaded the turbulent waters of the wave just yet, claimed them back. However, the waves the ship created in that V are about to reach the wave breaker.
Also the wind has picked up a little, as evident from the less smooth water surface shore-ward of the wave breakers.
Diffraction at a slit
Right after the waves from the V reach the wave breaker, they reach the opening at the end between the pylons. And what happens now is that the waves get diffracted at a “slit”: they propagate outwards as semi circles, even though the wave fronts were straight when they reached the slit.
How awesome is that? And all of this happening in a matter of minutes!
The weather changes
I said earlier that there was hardly any wind. Later that afternoon, it still wasn’t very windy, but the wind direction had changed: now the smooth and sheltered part has moved to the other side of the wave breakers. There are a lot more waves on the shore side of the wave breaker now, the ones with crests parallel to the wave breaker due to it moving, and the ones with crests perpendicular to it generated by wind. And you see gusts of wind on the sea side of the wave breakers in the different surface roughness.
So if you were wondering, too: That’s the kind of stuff I look at when I am wave watching. And I still find it super fascinating and relaxing at the same time! :-)
My friend Astrid recently went to see the Panama Canal and I so wish I had been there, too!
But luckily Astrid made tons of movies of how a ship went through one of the locks, and kindly let me share those movies here. For your convenience I’ve combined 7 movies spanning the 15 minutes it took the ship to go through the lock into the movie below.
The Miraflores lock is on the Pacific side of the Panama Canal. In two steps, ships are lifted or lowered 16.5 m here. That’s about 2/3 of the total height ships are being lifted when traveling through the Panama Canal.
I am so impressed with those locks. Can you imagine the forces they have to withstand? There would be a lot of water spilling if they ever gave way. I wouldn’t want to be downstream of a broken lock…
Also did you notice those “mules”, those tugs, on either side of the basin, keeping the ship in position?