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Wherever you go in Denmark, you will find people with this book open in the cockpit. Of all the books on sale, this is the one of choice. You might think that this is because it is written in German, and there are more German visitors than any other, but actually, it is because it is simply superior.

The Hafenhandbuch series is made up of six handbooks covering the North Sea and most of the Baltic. Each book is a hard backed, loose-leaf folder measuring about 200mm x 225mm, and about 70mm in width. This format sits nicely on a shelf, unlike some of the other A4 books.

The books cover the following areas:

  • Nordsee From Calais, the whole of the UK East Coast, the whole of the Norwegian West Coast and the West Coast of Denmark.
  • Skagerrak and Kattegat The Norwegian south coast, the Swedish West coast, down to Mölle and the Danish East Coast down to Grenå.
  • Ostsee I covers the Danish Baltic, south of Grenå, the Swedish West and South Coast from Molle to Simrisham, Bornholm, and the Northern Coast of Germany from Flensburg to Lubeck
  • Ostsee II covers Sweden from Malmo round to Norratalie (just North of Stockholm), and the Southern and Eastern Baltic coast from Poland round to Finland, stopping just north of the Åland Islands. It includes St Petersburg
  • M-VP (Mecklenburg-Vorpommen) covers the remaining North German coast between Lubeck and Poland

Click for larger viewThe Books are organised by area. At the front is a fold-out map of the whole area that each book covers. Printed on the map is a key to the various areas, along with every harbour that the book covers. As a quick guide this is invaluable and exceptionally clear. You can see at a glance what harbours are in your area. The area sub-sections are arranged by geography, and although the countries are separated, the sections within a country are somewhat arbitary.

Each section starts with a little overview and a map, similar to the master map, but showing only the harbours covered by that section. The harbours themselves are organised geographically, i.e.Harbours physically next to one another will follow in the book. A key printed on the area preface map acts as an index to the pages. E.g. In Ostsee I, Rødvig appears in Section DK-VI-2 (Denmark 6, Harbour 2). There is also a list of harbours on the main map, and on Index pages at the front of the Book. The front of the book also has a key to the chartlets.

Each Harbour has between one and four pages dedicated to it. There will usually be a very clear, colour chartlet, taking up at least half a page. There will also usually be at least one aerial photo, sometimes more, and occasionally a land-based photo.

Symbols printed on the chartlet indicate what facilities are available at each location. The accompanying text is always in the same format so, although in German, it is easy to understand. The text is organised as follows:

  • Introduction
  • Entry Instructions (Ansteuerung)
  • Mooring (Liegeplatze) where the Guest moorings are
  • Facilities (Versorgung) lists what facilities the harbour has (e.g. Electricity, Water etc)
  • Contacts (Kommunication) usually the Harbour Masters Phone Number
  • Attractions (Allgemeines) lists nearby attractions.

An update pack is available every spring. This takes the form of a pack of loose-leaf pages which are simply inserted into the binder.

In practice, this was the clearest book we have used. Based on reviewing the two Ostsee Books the only criticism I would have is that the chartlets are sometimes rather optimistic on water depth, and can be a little misleading, certainly in the extremeties of marinas. Also, the Ostsee II book has far fewer charts and pictures than the main Danish book.

The Hafenhandbuch costs between €35 and €43 depending on area. Updates are around €15. The books are available from good bookshops in Germany, or direct from DSV-Verlag. Note that when I tried it, DSV-Verlag only accept electronic payments, not credit cards. An electronic payment can cost up to £30 - an expensive addition to the cost of the book.

Images are copyright DSV-Verlag GmbH

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