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ELBLĄG BAY

The Bay is the southernmost part of the Vistula Lagoon, resembling the Masurian Lakes or Lake Jeziorak. The shelter provided by Nowakowska Island makes the wind lighter and the waves smaller here than on the Lagoon’s open waters. The Bay is a very shallow water body. Its average depth is 1-1.5 m (3-5 ft), and the farther south you go, the more shallow it gets. The exception is the Lagoon-Elbląg fairway. In Elbląg Bay, the guaranteed fairway depth is 2.2 m (7.2 ft), and further – on the Elbląg River – from 3.5 to 4 m (11.5-13 ft). The Bay’s ports are small, with poorly developed boating infrastructure. The region’s largest port is Suchacz, accessible to yachts with a draught up to 1.5 m (4.9 ft). The remaining ports are accessible to yachts with a lower draught: Nadbrzeże (1.2 m / 3.9 ft), Kamienica Elbląska (1.2 m) and Jagodna (0.8 m / 2.6 ft). Since 1991, the Zatoka Elbląska (Elbląg Bay) Nature Reserve has existed here.


THE INTERNATIONAL CHARACTER

The Vistula Lagoon (Zalew Wiślany) is the name of the Polish part of the water body, whose Russian part is called the Kaliningrad Lagoon (Kaliningradskij Zaliv). It is the second largest water body of the southern shore of the Baltic Sea (only the Curonian Lagoon, located in the western part of Lithuania, is larger). The total area of its waters – the Polish and Russian parts taken together – is 838 km2 (323.55 sq mi). The Polish part has an area of 328 km2 (126.64 sq mi), which constitutes about 40% of the total. The length of the Vistula Lagoon is 35.1 km (90.7 km together with the Kaliningrad Lagoon). The Lagoon’s width varies from 6.8 km (4.2 mi) to 13 km (8.1 mi), with the average depth of 2.7 m (8.9 ft). The Polish part of the Lagoon has an area nearly three times as large as the country’s largest lake, Śniardwy! The water body is separated from the Baltic Sea by the Vistula Spit (Russian name: Bałtijskaja Kosa – the Baltiysk Spit), whose Polish and Russian parts together measure 90 km (56 mi). The Polish Vistula Lagoon has only an indirect connection with the waters of the Baltic Sea, through the Szkarpawa and the Vistula Rivers. On the Russian side, the Kaliningrad Lagoon is linked with the Baltic Sea through the Pilawa Strait (Cieśnina Pilawska), also called the Strait of Baltiysk (Rinna Bałtiskaja) or the Sea Channel (Morskoj Kanał). This very strait is the deepest water body on the Lagoon. Russian authorities maintain its depth at 10.5 to 11 m (34.5-36.1 ft), with commercial and military aims in view. The Vistula Lagoon and the Kaliningrad Lagoon connect the networks of Polish and Western European inland waterways with Russian and Lithuanian waters.




MARITIME OR INLAND WATERS?
The Lagoon is internal maritime waters. Maritime aids to navigation are used here, managed by Maritime Office administration. Still, the term “maritime waters” does not imply maritime depths or salinity. The depth of the Lagoon does not exceed 5.5 m (18 ft) – except on the Kaliningrad Lagoon. The average depth for the entire Lagoon is only 3.5 m (11.48 ft), and only about 2m (6.6 ft) on the Polish waters. Due to the depths, relatively small for its area, the Lagoon can only be used by watercratfs with a draught up to 1.5 m (4.9 ft). Most of the ports on the Vistula Lagoon are prepared to admit such vessels. In order to turn from the Lagoon’s main fairway to the ports, you must keep to the approach fairways and head for the leading marks. This procedure is familiar to maritime sailors but may be a novelty to inland boaters and sailors. The salinity of the Polish part of this water body is about 2 per mille – half the figure for the Baltic. The closer we get to the strait connecting the Lagoon and the Baltic Sea, the higher the salinity.


THE GENESIS OF THE VISTULA LAGOON.
The Vistula Lagoon is a very young geological formation. For this reason, its previous name was Zatoka Świeża or Zatoka Fryska (Fresh Bay, Fryska Bay – from the German frische, meaning “fresh”). The current name was not adopted until 1950. This is a lagoon-type water body, formed through the accumulation of sand material brought by sea currents flowing from the west. With time, the spit reached the opposite shore of the bay, cutting the inshore shallows off from the sea. Today, the Vistula Spit stretches over a distance of 90 km (56 mi) and its average width varies between 1 and 2 km (0.62-1.25 mi). The process of the Lagoon getting closed off took place only a few thousand years ago. Today, analogous phenomena are responsible for the formation of the Hel Peninsula.




GEOGRAPHICAL AND ADMINISTRATIVE LOCATION
The border between the pomorskie and the warmińsko-mazurskie voivodeships runs across the Lagoon, more or less through the middle. What is interesting, the whole water boarder with the Kaliningrad region of Russian Federation is in warmińsko-mazurskie voivodeship and the land boarder on Vistula Sandbar is in pomorskie voivodeship. Looking eastwards, the following towns and villages are located on this side: Kamienica Elbląska, Nabrzeże, Suchacz, Kadyny, Tolkmicko, Frombork and Nowa Pasłęka. On the northern side of the Lagoon, administered by the pomorskie voivodeship, the following places lie (looking from east to west): Kąty Rybackie, Krynica Morska and Piaski. The Lagoon borders on the Vistula Spit in the north, on the Elbląg Upland and the Old Prussian Coast (Wybrzeże Staropruskie) in the south, and on Żuławy Wiślane (the Vistula Delta Plain) in the west. These areas differ in their lie of the land. The Spit has considerable elevations of the sand dune type; Żuławy is a flat land formed out of alluvial warp and in result of the efforts of land melioration specialists; the Old Prussian Coast is a plain, whereas the Elbląg Upland comprises high hillsides overgrown with beech forests. These hillsides afford unforgettable panoramas of the Vistula Lagoon.
 

MAJOR AIDS TO NAVIGATION ON THE VISTULA LAGOON

THE LIGHTHOUSE in Krynica Morska.
The easternmost lighthouse in the country. Geographical location: 54°23’07.2” N 19°27’03.6” E. Tower height: 26.5 m (86.9 ft). Light height: 53 m (173.9 ft) asl. Light range: 18 nmi (33.336 km / 20.7 mi), Light characteristics: Group flashing light: Flash: 2 s, Interval: 2 s, Flash: 2 s, Interval: 6 s, Period: 12 s. Administered by the Maritime Office in Gdynia. The light and the silhouette of the lighthouse are visible from the open sea as well as from the Vistula Lagoon.


BEACONS:
fixed structures – navigation lights on truss towers placed on a fixed base: on stone islands. This considerably increases their range of light compared to usual buoys. Some of them indicate the Vistula Lagoon’s fairway.


CARDINAL BUOYS:
with a combination of yellow and black and with black cones positioned appropriately to the region in which they restrict navigation. They indicate the outermost points of shoals and shallow waters as well as other dangerous places. The buoy marking the west edge of danger is the so-called “Francuzka” (Frenchwoman), with two cones point to point as the topmark. The buoy situated at the east edge of a dangerous water area is “Rosjanka” (Russian woman), with two cones pointing up and down. The buoy marking the north edge of danger is “Eskimoska” (Eskimo woman), with two cones pointing up; finally, the so-called “Murzynka” (Black woman), with both cones pointing down, marks the south edge of a dangerous water area. Sometimes a buoy has no cones, only a spar painted yellow and black. The flashing of such buoys corresponds to clock face.



LATERAL BUOYS:
they are green and red. They mark the edges of the fairway and approach fairways. They are often placed in pairs, which we refer to as “gates.” The direction of the approach fairway is towards the harbour, which means that red buoys (spar or can) stand on the port (left) side of the fairway and green buoys (spar or can) on the starboard (right) side. Red-and-white as well as green-and-yellow buoys mark the country border


LEADING MARKS:
they indicate the approach to the port. By day, they are triangles, rectangles, or rhombuses – white or red, placed on special truss towers, pierheads, passenger piers, or in other places visible from a distance. By night, leading marks flash. There are often two leading lights: the front and the rear one. Navigate in such a manner as to make them coincide. The front signal is fixed lower.





HYDROTECHNICAL HIGHLIGHTS



THE SHIPPING CANAL ACROSS THE VISTULA SPIT
The plan to build a shipping canal across the Vistula Spit is aimed at connecting the Vistula Lagoon with Gdańsk Bay, shortening the waterway and making Elbląg a sea port. The proposed place for digging though the spit is located in the village of Skowronki, in the Sztutowo Commune. The length of the canal is 1.1 km (0.68 mi), and the width is 80 m (262.5 ft). The project stirs up controversy, since the canal is to run across Natura 2000 protected areas.


 


CRUISES ON THE VISTULA LAGOON
On Vistula Lagoon, on the part between Krynica Morska and Frombork, in high season, there are numerous cruises which are operated by a few ship owners. During the cruise you can admire the nature of the basin, especially marsh birds and waterfowl, and in Frombork the cathedral complex. The cruise takes one hour and a half. Cruises are organized also on the route Nowa Pasłęka- Frombork – Piaski, from Tolkmicko and Elbląg to Krynica Morska and the cruises on the Vistula Lagoon from ports in Krynica Morska and Kąty Rybackie.


 


Not far from Nowa Karczma and Nowa Pasłęka, the Polish-Russian border crosses the Vistula Lagoon. Even as late as the 1990s, its course was still marked by steel wire netting stretched over border waters. The situation on the border was unstable until 2009, when an agreement was concluded regulating vessel traffic. Before that, incidents of blocking navigation and closing the border for Polish vessels occurred.


 



TOURIST HIGHLIGHTS



FROMBORK
The town, whose beginnings date back to the Middle Ages, was immortalised in the annals of history thanks to Nicolaus Copernicus, who lived and worked here for over 30 years. In 1510-1543, the famous astronomer lived on the Cathedral hill as a canon of Warmia. When visiting the town, you must not forget to see the following: Cathedral Basilica of the Assumption of the BVM and St Andrew (in the summer season, every week, virtuosi from Poland and from abroad give concerts there on the famous Frombork organ); the Radziejowski Belfry Tower (Wieża Radziejowskiego), in which there is a Foucault pendulum; Copernicus’ private tower; the Nicolaus Copernicus Museum; the planetarium located on the so-called octagon – an octagonal tower on the Cathedral hill. Also worth visiting, though less known, is he Museum of Medicine at the Św. Ducha Hospital (the Holy Spirit Hospital).


 


KRYNICA MORSKA.
The broad beaches of Krynica Morska will lure every enthusiast of blissful idleness. In this former fishing settlement there is seldom any reason to complain about no sunshine and from the lighthouse there is a marvellous view stretching over the Baltic Sea and the Vistula Lagoon. The lighthouse is 26.5 m (87 ft) high and has a range of 18 nautical miles. In Krynica, there is also a port with a yacht and tourist section and a fishing harbour. In the vicinity of the town there is a dune called Wielbłądzi Garb (Camel’s Hump), recognised to be Europe’s highest.


 


TOLKMICKO
The beautiful beach and the nearby nature make Tolkmicko an excellent place for rest. Interesting historic monuments also abound here. They include the town’s layout, a Gothic tower and St James Church. Additionally, the so-called Wały Tolkmita (Tolkmit’s Embankments) are located near Tolkmicko, being the remains of an old Prussian fortified settlement.


 







ON THE VISTULA LAGOON, FOLLOW THE FAIRWAY

The fairway runs from the mouth of the Wisła Królewiecka (the Königsberg Vistula), the Szkarpawa and Elbląg Bay to the country border. Its shape, looked at from the west, can be compared to a trident. Having an imagination that could match those who gace names to constellations, we could call the fairway of the Vistula Lagoon “Crocodile.” Its gaping jaws would be formed by Elbląg Light (Światło Elbląg) and Gdańsk Beacon (Stawa Gdańsk). The back line would be marked by Elbląg Beacon (Stawa Elbląg) as well as buoys: Tol, Fro and Pas. Approaches to the ports in Krynica Morska, Piaski, Tolkmicko and Frombork would be the legs. Finally, the crocodile’s tail would end at the port of Nowa Pasłęka.

AIDS TO NAVIGATION ON THE VISTULA LAGOON

The Vistula Lagoon is sea in a nutshell. It has a lighthouse; it has navigation lights – or, beacons; it has buoys, being the floating marks indicating the fairway; it has leading marks, which indicate safe approach to ports; it also has unmarked nets awaiting sailors. The Vistula Lagoon is a good school of maritime habits, also due to the fact that it is marked with aids to navigation conforming to the international maritime buoyage system, the IALA – A System. This means that we will find exactly the same marks and signs on the maritime waters of the entire Europe, Africa and Australia, as well as on most waters of Asia.

 



 

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39

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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