written on 18/12/2020
by Friedhelm Schulz

The historical & last navigation sign at the end of river ELBE


As a little reminiscence to the following Portuguese Semester of the Grand Nation of Navigators this riddle was set at the coast. 

The KUGELBAKE is the last navigation mark on the continent for the vessels leaving Hamburg - and welcomes the arriving sailors.

Today without nautical significance, the wooden construction is maintained by a foundation.  It was probably erected in 1703 for the first time.


Travel at a glance

Best period: Summer | General information: https://tourismus.cuxhaven.de/index.php

Cuxhaven – a city known by name and as a gate to the Wadden Sea and to Helgoland.

Cuxhaven itself is a conglomerate of approx. 20 smaller villages, which merged during the centuries. nowadays it has the usual city centre with a pedestrian zone.

The real touristic spots are the various beaches and boardwalks along the coast.

The Cuxhaven port is a connection port to Helgoland. As the trip with the highspeed ferry is only 70 minutes, most travellers are not staying overnight.

Unfortunately Germany's only offshore island is dominated by duty-free shops for alcohol and tobacco, and the corresponding clientele.

The specific beauty and the painful history of the island is fading next to this shopping attraction.

Beside the Cuxhaven port, the “Alte Liebe” is the ideal viewpoint for vessel spotting.

Sometimes some hundred people are watching the vessels passing by. Giants like the famous “Queen Mary 2” or the world's biggest container ship “Antoine de Saint Exupéry” can be seen.

Frequently cruise liners of all sizes pass just a few metres away from the viewpoint.

From the “Alte Liebe” wharf visitors may also take a guided trip to the seal banks.

Those who fear water but not a good walking tour, may take a 10km walk during low tide through the mudland to the Island of Neuwerk

The safe paths are marked by bunches, and for the ones surprised by the high tide water, rescue columns are positioned in the area – well equipped with first aid kits, signal rockets and protected against lightnings. 

But attention: Even if it is quite pleasant to walk barefoot in the mud, there are some passages where sandals are recommended, especially in the tide-ways with a lot of edgy shells. 

The return from the Island is usually made by boat, adapted to the tides. Lazy walkers may book a coach tour.

At the “HAPAG-Halls” Germany is very close to America as emigrants were gathered here before boarding the steamboats crossing the Atlantic.

Very interesting is the still working railway station, especially built to master the migration movements to America some generations ago. Today a museum remembers this period of time.

Finally, we will close this review with the KUGELBAKE again, not with the wooden construction but with the fortress named after it.

Attentive participants in the riddle perceived the pentagonal outline of the fortification.

Today it is possible to have a guided tour through the ruins (it was partially demolished by british forces in 1945). It is the only remained marine fortress of Germany and the biggest of its kind.

During WWI the strongest spotlight of the world was installed here, equivalent to approx. 318 million candela, powered by four 20kw-machines.


The author begs your pardon that not all internet links are available in other than German language – this corner of Germany is not yet kissed by International Tourism.

All pictures beside pic 5 by Friedhelm Schulz