The first WNT paddle tour with 18 participants over a planned 21.3 km covered the Ems section from Hembergen to Mesum. Günter had arranged with the boat rental company, to pick up and bring back the trailer with boats, paddles, and waterproof luggage barrels with his motorhome himself. So, extensive logistics had to be planned for the transport of the material as well as the people, because the start and finish of the tour were 13.6 road kilometres apart, and at the end everyone wanted to get back to their car.
The unloading of the material was done by Günter and Wilfried, who were the first to arrive at the starting point. Afterwards, some cars were brought to the destination and parked there. After the return of all those involved in the transport service, all participants were finally gathered on a meadow at the Ems, put one boat after the other into the Ems and paddled off.
We paddled through a newly created, meandering river section with anchored tree trunks. In the 1930s, the length of the Ems was almost halved by straightening. For some years now, renaturalisation has been taking place in various places, allowing the Ems to carry sand and shape its bed itself again. This includes obstacles, shallow water, changes to the banks and the river's course through sedimentation or flushing out.
Our paddling tour took us through the EMSAUE nature reserve: We saw breeding burrows of swallows in the sand, kingfishers in the distance, cormorants basking on the shore with their wings stretched out to dry.
We took our first break after about 5 km. Until then, we had warm, calm weather with light cloud cover, which protected us from too much direct sunlight.
After the break, a strong headwind arose and although we paddled downstream, we had to use some strength to make progress against the wind. Jürgen and I involuntarily got our canoe turned against the river's flow direction by the strong wind shortly after the start and could not get back on course under our own power. Heinz helped us standing in the water, so that we could all continue.
We shortened the distance to 19 km and had a more comfortable exit. When we reached our destination, we had to load the canoes, paddles, and accessories back onto the trailer and moor them, so that Günter could bring everything back to the boat rental. Near the launch site, we had reserved an outdoor table for dinner. The wind, which had already cost us a lot of effort on the Ems, came alive again and made dinner a very breezy event. Many thanks to Günter, who visibly enjoyed making this canoeing experience possible with and for us!
– Report: Rainer; photos: Rainer, except denoted ones