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Working in summer: capitain
„As a captain, you always have to be at your best“

Captain Robert Schneider on his boat.
Photo (detail): Robert Schneider © Robert Schneider

Rarely in Baden-Württemberg are so many ships on the water as at the summer festival “River Mood on the Neckar”. Year after year, Robert Schneider is at the helm. Goethe.de/kultur tells what the captain’s everyday life looks like and for which port he most likes to set sail.

By Svetlana Kerestely

Three cities and a community on the lower Neckar - Bad Friedrichshall, Bad Rappenau, Bad Wimpfen and Gundelsheim - maintain an old tradition. Every year on an August weekend they celebrate together a summer party. At the “River Mood on the Neckar”, guests commute by boat from city to city, enjoy the relaxed atmosphere on board and visit various events on the banks.

Captain Robert Schneider is looking forward to being there with his shipping company Kurpfalz in 2018 as well. He likes the pleasant ambience and the regular exchange with the guests. “Many passengers take an interest in my job, but with some there are also discussions about parenting, retirement or politics”, says Schneider. “I find it very refreshing.”

The talks are only minor matter. With great attention, Schneider makes sure that the guests don’t become overconfident or reckless. He keeps track of everyone who goes on board.

Captain Robert on his boat. Captain Robert Schneider has been at home on the water almost all his life. | Photo (detail): Robert Schneider © Robert Schneider
For almost his entire life, the 59-year-old Schneider has been at home on the water. At 16, he began his training as an inland skipper at the Boatman Professional School in Duisburg. Then followed the usual career: sailor, boatswain, helmsman. At the age of 21, he qualified to take his exam for skipper.

“As a captain, you have to be mentally and morally at your best”, says Schneider. That means good ears, good eyes, keen attention and quick reactions. By “moral” he means dealing intelligently with people. “There must be no trouble on board. We’re all in the same boat”, he says.
Captain Robert Schneider at the wheel. Schneider finds regular exchanges with the guests very refreshing. | Photo (detail): Robert Schneider © Robert Schneider
At the beginning of his career, Schneider worked on a cargo ship. He sailed the Rhine, Neckar, Main and Mosel, was in the Netherlands and on the North German Canal. Later, Schneider didn’t want to be on the move most of the year because of his family. In 1997 he therefore he went into passenger shipping. In the meantime, his son and daughter are in their mid-thirties and have children of their own.

“I’m happy with my life”, he says, quite convincingly. But the captain still has a dream: a trip around the world. But to the question about the most beautiful place he has ever been Schneider has a lightning-fast answer: “Home!”