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RIVER PROFILE

Poland’s longest river and at the same time the longest river flowing into the Baltic. It is 1047 km (650.6 mi) long, and its basin takes up more than half of the area of Poland. The Vistula is called the Queen of Polish Rivers – also because of the huge role it played in the history of our country. Its banks witnessed the turbulent history of the Polish nation. Ages ago, towns such as Cracow, Warsaw, Toruń or Gdańsk were set up on it. The Vistula can be divided into 3 basic sections: upper, middle and lower. The source of this division lies in history and in the layout of borders between the partitions. The upper section, c. 270 km (167.7 mi) in length – from the source on the slope of Barania Góra in the Beskid Śląski (the Silesian Beskid) to the mouth of the San River – has no particular significance to economy or shipping due to poor regulation and too low water levels. However, it constitutes a landscape and tourist attraction of places such as Oświęcim, Cracow, Tarnobrzeg or Sandomierz. The longest, middle section is characterised by a natural landscape of a wild river, unique in Europe. As the Vistula is regulated only by flood embankments, sandy islands are often formed and on the fields along its banks grazing cattle can be noticed. The participants of the increasingly popular kayaking trips can visit historic places such as Janowiec, Kazimierz Dolny, Puławy or Dęblin. From Płock to the mouth of the Vistula in Gdańsk flows the lower section of the Vistula, regulated during the German partition. On the way, you pass the dam and hydroelectric plant in Włocławek and Poland’s largest water reservoir – Włocławek Reservoir. Travelling further, you can visit a number of castles erected by the Teutonic Knights, e.g. in Toruń, Świecie, Grudziądz or Gniew. In the Żuławy area, the Vistula forms a delta, forking into the Nogat, the Szkarpawa, the Martwa Wisła (the Dead Vistula) and the Wisła Śmiała (the Bold Vistula). At present, the river’s main outlet into Gdańsk Bay is the canal (Przekop) built in 1895.

NAVIGATIONAL INFORMATION

DEPTH
From the outlet of the Brda (km 771.4) to Tczew (km 910), the Vistula is recognised to be a class II navigable aterway, with a transit depth of 1.4 m (4.6 ft). From here as far as the mouth (km 941.3), it is a class II waterway and guarantees a depth of 1.6 m (5.25 ft). Still, caution should be exercised, since the current of the Vistula carries a considerable amount of aggregate forming sandbars, which often block he main channel – depth may fall below 1 m (3.3 ft).

WIDTH
The width of the river is in the region of 500 m (1640 ft). A pair of binoculars is indispensable on board, facilitating the recognition of signs on the opposite bank. When navigating along the bank, keep a safe distance – from several dozen to as much as 200 metres (150-650 ft) – to avoid hitting the hidden and often damaged wing dams, which sometimes protrude far into the river channel.

POWER LINES AND BRIDGES
All the power lines run high (above 8 m / 26 ft at HNW), not obstructing navigation. The lowest bridge over this section of the Vistula is in Grudziądz – its clearance is over 5 m (16.4 ft) at high water level and nearly 9 m (29.5 ft) at medium water level.

AIDS TO NAVIGATION
The lower stretch of the Vistula has bank signs required by regulations for inland waterways. During low water stages, the signs must absolutely be obeyed! Kilomere signs are frequently destroyed, which is why they appear on river banks very irregularly.

MOORING
Apart from the few harbours along the Vistula’s banks, you should only choose sandy coves between wing dams as mooring places (watching out for fishing nets). When approaching the bank, be particularly careful: stone reinforcements, occurring along the entire length of the river, pose danger to vessels. In Toruń (on IW E40), in the distance of about 30 km from IW E70, from the direction of Old town complex, on the 1,5 km part between the bridges of road and rail, the bank of Vistula River was modernized. It is an element of river landscape of Toruń. The bank is adopted to moor big passengers’ vessels. All of this enables the direct relations Vistula River – Old Town, which marks Hanzeatic and river identity of Toruń. The terrace strengthening of the central part of it is especially highly estimated place of meetings and relaxation of tourists and inhabitants at the Vistula River bank. The harbour Of AZS (Academic Sports Association) is also rebuilt. It is located at Philadelphian Boulevard in close distance to Old Town. In enables mooring of about 20 little vessels.

WIND AND CURRENT
Due to the fairly rapid current of the Vistula (c. 3 km/h – 2.7 ft/s), avoid quick manoeuvres. Wind may be an impediment as well – when it blows from the north waves may reach a height of even 1 m (3.3 ft). At strong south wind, increase the engine’s revolutions.
 
HYDROTECHNICAL HIGHLIGHTS

THE GDAŃSKA GŁOWA LOCK
Built in 1895 during the reconstruction of the Vistula’s estuary, the lock measures 12.5 by 61 metres (41 by 200.1 ft) and takes its name after the fortress that was pulled down in the 17th c. In the times when Przekop Wisły was not yet in existence, this was the only strategic place enabling the control of Gdańsk trade.


THE PRZEGALINA LOCK
This is the only barrage on the so-called Gdańsk Vistula (Wisła Gdańska). Its construction enables navigation on the Martwa Wisła and the barrage itself protects nearby areas from flood. Two locks are situated here at present. The first one (northern) was built in 1895. In 1981 the second one was put into operation: the modern and much larger southern lock, measuring 11.9 by 188 m (39.04 by 616.8 ft). In 1992, the Northern Przegalina was put out of service and entered into the Register of Historic Monuments.


RIVER GAUGE IN KORZENIEWO
This historic river gauge was erected in the 1840s, during the construction of the river port in Korzeniewo. Its mechanism was automated, dependent on the water level in the Vistula and in the port  thanks to the large dial mounted on the building’s turret, the readings of the river gauge could be seen from the deck of a barge or a tug. The building resembles a chapel or an Orthodox church, and few people are aware of its original function.



TOURIST HIGHLIGHTS

CHEŁMNO
is called a Town of Love, because in the fara (old parish church) there, dating back to the turn of the 13th and 14th centuries, relics of St Valentine are kept. Numerous themed events are held here on February 14. Apart from Valentine’s Day, the town has many other attractions for those in love. Achitecture lovers will be interested to know that the town was built to a scheme adopted in advance, based on the so-called Chełmno rod, which used to be a unit of length. The standard has been placed in the town hall, and the effects of the town having been built using this method (referred to as the law of Chełmno) can be seen from the fara tower.



GRUDZIĄDZ
What rivets the eye in Grudziądz is the 16th-century brick granaries, located near the old town and give the impression of being huge when looked at from the river, although they are only several floors high. The buildings that lie closest to Brama Wodna (Water Gate) house The Rev. Dr W. Łęga Museum, which presents e.g. archaeological, ethnographic or numismatic collections. Other buildings of former granaries are inhabited or are still to be adapted for various purposes.


TCZEW
Tczew has Poland’s first Museum of the Vistula River, which is the third museum in the world devoted to a river; the museum promotes the region’s history and traditions. Other places worth visiting include Tczew’s oldest historic monument – the 13th-century fara church – and the old town, also dating back to the Middle Ages.

 

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INTRODUCTION

1

IW E70 – THE EAST-WEST (E-W) STRETCH

2

THE BRDA

3

THE BYDGOSZCZ CANAL

6

THE NOTEĆ

9

THE WARTA

15

THE ODRA

19

IW E70 – THE SOUTH-NORTH (S-N) STRETCH

21

THE VISTULA

22

THE NOGAT

31

THE SZKARPAWA

36

THE VISTULA LAGOON

39

THE ELBLĄG RIVER AND THE JAGIELLONIAN CANAL

50

THE MARTWA WISŁA, THE ŚMIAŁA WISŁA, THE GDAŃSK MOTŁAWA

52

INFORMATOR

56

WATERWAY SIGNS AND MARKING

57

LEGEND

58

SCHEMES OF LOCKS AND HARBOURS

59

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