Join us on our travels around Europe aboard our Dutch Tjalk Francoise

  • Jill Budd

    After 6 years aboard our Narrowboat Matilda Rose in the UK, we took the plunge and shipped her across to Europe. After 2 years in Europe we knew we didn't want to return to the UK so took the plunge and purchased a 1902 20 mtr Dutch Tjalk called Francoise and are now continuing our travels of the waterways of Europe in a buxom wench

  • May 2014
    M T W T F S S
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Graham’s thoughts so far on boating in Europe.

Posted by contentedsouls on 18/05/2014

If you are looking to carry on the same lifestyle as you have on the English and Welsh waterways, forget it.

We Landed in Belgium just over a month ago, finding the lorry and boat was the first problem to overcome. I had given the driver an address which I had been given as what I thought to be the crane lift, no it was the main HQ of VVW, one of the largest Marina operators in Belgium, having found MR we had then to find the crane.

Licences, well… long are you going to be in Belgium, if your only staying a couple of months and you fall into their date categories then it’s relatively cheap, but hey a full annual ticket is only £100 or €125

Getting online was the next objective. Driving around Nieuwpoort we saw a sign about tele….. In a local shop so in we popped and bought Sims….put them in the phones…..nada…after a couple of days of frustration and cruising down to Veurne we found the Mobistar shop where the very helpful assistant got us all phone and internet operational.

Moorings, firstly from previous information, gleaned from several sources, we were under the impression that town moorings were free, this is not the case, in majority of the larger towns they are run by the local Yachthaven and in the main charge €1/Mtr per nite. Now on Class 1 waterways finding suitable moorings is not a problem, with long pins and a couple of springs we found it safe and secure, however, one also needs to have a spare rope and pin for use as a mountaineering safety line, the banks on nearly all of the Belgium waterways are steep and high. We have only forked out €15 so far for moorings.

Beer, well you only have to look at most of our photos, there always seems to be a bottle or can lying empty, no real ale but Belgium beer is infamous around the world and it’s reputation will stand up to the severest scrutiny. It’s good, but as one barman said to us “you English can’t drink our beer it’s too strong” and as most beers start at 5% ABV he’s not far wrong although so far my Favourite is Leffe Bruin at 6.6% and it really slides down a treat, Too well in fact.

Diesel, is available on the waterways at Yachthavens, but it is pricy compared to going to the local garage. €1.33 or £1.09 a litre isn’t too bad and as the licence fee was only £100 it takes an awful lot of engine hours to loose out.

Language here in Belgium depends on which part you are in, in the North, Flanders it is in the main a variation on Dutch, but in the south, Wallonie it is very much French based. However, most speak English very well but there are a few, elderly mostly, who can’t or won’t!

Cruising these large waterways is fun and awesome all at the same time, a good lookout is essential at all times, how many of us have cruised UK and rarely looked behind well failure to do so here could see a 2000 ton barge 85 Mtrs long and 9 Mtrs wide, bearing down on you at 7.5 knots 8.6 mph and as most Narrowboats will only do 6.5/7 mph then they tend to catch and overtake you with ease and during that time as they start to pass, your forward motion seems to halt then in the next second you appear to be dragged into their stern, so a neat steering away manoeuvre is called for.

It takes a little time to settle back into a normal pattern of life, or near normal, except fresh croissants and French stick everyday cannot be normal please my waist line won’t take anymore, help me!

8 Responses to “Graham’s thoughts so far on boating in Europe.”

  1. Kevin TOO said

    Well Graham I’m glad that you are enjoying your travels as much as we, your loyal followers, are 🙂
    And yes the temptation of the pain au chocolat, croissants & fresh bread would be my downfall too… LOL
    Keep up the good fight, perhaps dog walking will be your saviour 😉


  2. Margaret Budd said

    Well by the sound of chocolat,croissants and fresh bread daily would be my downfall,then after a week on goes 4/7 lbs in weight,as that would be my daily intake,not bothered about the beer.
    The waterways are very very busy which Dad and I saw 20 odd years ago,some beautiful walks,lots of fat Cows around the countryside.yes I mean COWS,before you were thinking I was being rude.
    Enjoy your lovely long holiday,and yes you will need to change Matilda Rose for the wider type of boat. Hehehe xxxx


  3. Colin Clayton said

    fascinating – glad you are having an exciting time even though it sounds a bit scary for me. When do you return to blighty?


  4. mike said

    I have some bad news and some good news.
    Bad news first. The cruising licence you bought in Flanders isn’t valid in Wallonie.
    The good news. There isn’t a cruising licence needed in Wallonie, all pleasure craft can travel for free. A couple of years ago the fixed charge, less than 1 Euro per trip, was dropped, too much paper work.
    Things will improve dramatically, and travelling will become more leisurely once you leave Belgium. Apart from a few waterways, why anyone should want to pleasure cruise around Belgium beats me. There’s far too much stress with the commercials.


    • The river Leie was lovely and so have been the major cities, but looking forward to getting off these class 4 rivers! Had a really bad time with the big boys last night and it stressed the dogs out too


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