Back from the Majorca 25k race, I was keen to do something special on my first weekend back home in Munich in over a month. The idea was a to do a traverse of Lake Starnberg. 25 kilometers South of Munich and Germany’s 5th largest lake. Out of Bavaria’s 307 lakes, it is the second longest lake after Bodensee (Chiemsee is bigger, but only 13km long). It is also the famous place where King Ludwig II. of Bavaria drowned or died under mysterious circumstances in 1886.
I have been paddling there many times, but I never paddled it in it’s full length (it extends 21km from North to South and has a width of 3-5km). When I last paddled there beginning of March, that would not have been possible anyway, as the whole south end was still frozen. I remember a sunny day beginning of March, I was paddling in board shorts and lycra, but 8km down I heard a cracking noise and all of a sudden the remaining part of the lake was frozen and I was like “Oh, well, the water seems to still be cold, I better not fall in!”.
So, the plan was to paddle from Percha in the North-East to Roseninsel, a single, small island in the West of the lake, From there we wanted to continue to Seeshaupt in the South East Corner. On Saturday morning, Carsten asks me how the forecast is, I am like “not too good, up to 50km/h of wind, 6-12 degrees and half an hour of sunshine for the whole day, but it does look better, doesn’t it?” Carsten: “Maybe that is the half hour of sunshine now….”
So, Carsten and Guido go surfing and Arnd pulls out. I had already asked Etienne “Munich Stand Up Paddling” Stander if he could pick me up at the other end of the lake and and slowly resigned to doing the traverse solo, when Andrea from Bavarianwaters comes to my rescue and agrees to paddle with me. She is keen to test her brand new Starboard 14’ board. Ok, then 14’ it is. I drive to my garage to get my Fanatic Flatwater 14’ board, but I can’t fit it into my van. I had cut a hole into the rear window to be able to transport 14’ boards but I can’t get it in, the angles don’t work unless you have 4 arms that are 8 meters long. So, returning the 14’ board to the garage and back home to get the Fanatic Fly Race 12’6” and off to Percha.
It’s cold and windy, 6°C. After being so cold in the 25k Race I know better this time, I wear my ION Long Jane with a ION Neoprene Bra and 2 Layers of Lycra, I fill my camelback, take energy bars and my iPhone in a waterproof case because we will need to let Etienne know if and when we will be arriving. Ready, set go, off we go. Yes it’s windy, 25 to 50km/h and when we walk towards the water, the boards are almost blown out of our hands, well, this is going to be fun…
For the first kilometers, we cross the lake from our East entry point to get to the west coast. In strong headwind we slowly move ahead with 2-3km/h. Once we reach the west coast, the trees protect us from the wind. Except for an encounter with a bit of a mad swan (I guess I am sensitive to that because there was just the mad swan which was named Tyson attacking people on the London canal) we have a relatively peaceful paddle down to Roseninsel, which is the site of the Royal Villa of King Ludwig. He was particularly attached to this place and made frequent renovations and remodelings of the small garden and the villa, which is called casino. Guests on the island included the composer Richard Wagner, his close friend Prince Paul of Thurn and Taxis, Empress Elisabeth of Austria and Czarina Maria Alexandrovna of Russia.
We don’t have time for sightseeing we just take a break to eat and drink and check the SMS Etienne sent. Andrea fixes her Camelback, after drinking via opening the top lid, she realizes there actually is a little valve which opens the tube….it’s these little moments&laughs that make such a thing fun. Etienne asks us via SMS where we are, I tell him at Roseninsel (he wanted to paddle towards us from the other end). He replies “It’s gonna take a while, the wind is crazy here!”. Yeah, thanks man, we know….
The paddle from Roseninsel to Seeshaupt gets easier as we are heading South-East and the Wind is blowing from the West, we have 15km to go and aside from the wind the lake is spookily quiet, not a single boat or bird on the whole lake for the rest of the paddle. That feels a bit weird and I am glad to be paddling with Andrea and not paddling alone. But then the sun comes out and it instantly all feels nicer.
We pass Schloss Berg and the place where king Ludwig drowned (which is marked by a huge cross in the water) and take another quick break on a landing stage off the East coast to text Etienne our coordinates. About 7km more to go. We keep paddling until we see a tiny dot on the horizon, hurray, that must be Etienne!
We keep paddling a few strokes, waving our paddles, paddling a few strokes until we see a paddle wave back, great, he has seen us and starts paddling towards us. He was headed more West, as he knew we were coming from Roseninsel. We then also see Marion and are glad they show us the exit point where they parked the car. All in all, we paddled 22km in 3:22 including breaks. We wrestle 4 SUPs into a motorhome (where did that come from?) and they drive us back to my van. Arriving back in Percha, we are rewarded with a beautiful sunset. The quiet after the storm…Andrea dashes off because she needs to get some groceries at Tengelmann, I laugh at her, but when I come home, all I find in the freezer is 500g of frozen Spinach, so that’s my dinner and my punishment for laughing at her.
More King Ludwig Paddles: