contentedsouls

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

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Corbie on the Somme, Canal du Nord, Sensee, Basin Ronde and Escaut

Posted by contentedsouls on 31/05/2015

Now we needed to get a serious move on for our date with blacking. Having had a month to swan about, time was now getting tight. With the dreaded Canal du Nord to be negotiated, we moved on for four, quite long, consecutive and, at times, frustrating and tiring days.

One last stop on the Somme at Cappy, although we nearly didn’t get there when MR threw a hose and, subsequently blew a head gasket bolt and had to be tied onto Temujin until we could get to somewhere where the leaky hose could be taken out of the circuit, the skin tank refilled and Mike could weld us back up.  A sociable way to travel though, albeit a little slow! I’m looking quite cool here on the helm – a different story when I tried to turn them into the lock though. Ho hum; no paint was lost – just a small increase in G’s blood pressure!

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Then it was on to the horrid Canal du Nord. Commercial traffic has priority and each lock holds one double length peniche, one pusher or two ‘single’ peniches. MR & Temujin side by side = 1 peniche although some lock keepers don’t get that we can go alongside each other. The first lock of the day we thought we’d hit lucky and be able to go straight in after a single gate, but they dropped the gate (with half the lock unused), turned the lights to red and buggered off to lunch. This major commercial waterway actually shut for lunch because it was Sunday, despite the rapidly building up backlog of commercial traffic. So we sit and wait whilst Mike takes the opportunity to tuck into (yet another) fish finger butty.

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Time and time again we were delayed (and ignored on the radio) but at least we only met a small cruiser coming the other way through the tunnel. There’s a set of lights and a mooring layby halfway through so that peniches can pass you and each other. (The last photo was taken by June approaching the Somme on the southern stretch which was a bit quieter). A lot of the delays were completely unnecessary, but all you can do is resign yourself and go with the flow – or not, as the case may be. 

At least we only had to stop on it two nights – the first stop I forgot to photograph but it was immediately above a lock at Moislans and wasn’t too bad as everything had to slow or gain momentum as they came passed due to the lock. The second night we spent breasted up on a small pontoon at Marquion in ‘open’ water. There was a terrific bang first thing in the morning which was Temujin bashing into us as their fender was burst. Muttley landed on our bed in fright, narrowly missing landing on Daisy – had he not missed, Daisy would have given him a second fright. Daisy was quite unconcerned by the traumas of the mooring as she moused amongst the shallow rocks and Vinca on the bank by the canoe club.

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Very relieved to turn onto the big, but almost deserted, Sensee and then the pretty Basin de Ronde (where we played dodgems with the windsurfers) and then through the first lock on the Escaut up into Iwuy – and if you can pronounce that you’re a better man than I.

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Temujin was ahead of us when we reached the mooring and June was well over her knees in the long grass on the mooring bank – always dodgy because of hidden potholes – when they saw a man in a tractor mowing grass further in. A quick word and he kindly diverted and mowed the bank for us. It was extremely kind of him and although Mike offered him some beers as a thank you, he would only accept one.

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A lovely spot where humans and animals alike can get their breaths back and re-provision the boats. We are now only two boat days away from our blacking destination in Belgium.

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