The six-hourly pattern of high and low tides gives sailing on the Elbe a special thrill, but sometimes makes it hard going. Though the sea tides only wash the North Sea water as far as Glpckstadt, even in the port of Hamburg there is a change of around three metres in the water level. Further upstream, river is tidal as far as Geestahcht.
Where the Alster flows into the Elbe, Germany s busiest river is just 300 meters wide. But on its hundred/kilometre/plus journey to the seat, the Lower Elbe widens out, reaching between two and three kilometres at Blankenese, not far outside the port of Hamburg.
By the time the yellowish grey river flows into the North Sea at Cuxhaven, it is a sprawling fifteen kilometres wide.
Even so, the Lower Elbe is still an extraordinary varied marine landscape. It is an advantage not to be underestimated for a major city like Hamburg to have this leisure ground with its magnificent breath of the ocean right outside its front door.
Anyone wanting to spend the night in their own bunk close to the city can conveniently tie up in the city marina. Further downstream, small yacht harbours for amateur sailors are dotted along both sides of the river like a string of pearls.
Hamburg alone has marinas at Finkenwerder, Muellenberg and the Blankenese Saling Club.