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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24th May Weert to Helmond

Posted by contentedsouls on 29/06/2017

28 kms, 2 lift bridges, 6 locks, 6 hours

We left our industrial site/lorry park mooring in search of greener, quieter and less populated moorings but, inevitably, inferior dog walking.

We soon entered a more residential area with smart, modern, housing but all is long, straight and dull. I trust my Holland and Friesland cruising friends enough to know that this will get better, if not downright gorgeous, and all would be simple if we didn’t have animals on board. There are a lot of high quays (hopeless for poor old doddery Baxter and not too good for my poor old knees either) and moorings adjacent to roads (impossible to let Daisy out). Easy to keep Daisy shut in; but only with doors and windows closed and it’s getting too hot now to make that comfortable.

The first two obstacles of the day were lift bridges; we called on the radio, they opened, we went through. Not a fast procedure, but it all happened with due diligence and no grief. I’m trying to limit the number of brug (see; I’m getting the lingo) pictures because there are soooooooo many. Pretty much every lock has one (or two) too.

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Informed the first lock of our presence, to which he responded and gabbled lots back to us. Told him we were English and couldn’t speak Dutch. Silence; the lock lights stayed on red but then there was a great deal of chatter over the radio in Dutch. Eventually our system picked up upcoming AIS (picks up about 2/3 kms away – depending on bends, hills, etc.) so knew he was holding the lock. We could also see that the commercial behind us was now catching up and would, therefore, take the downstream lock. We were clearly in for a long wait so pulled over, mooring behind the fuel bunker and turned off the engine. This one came up and the one behind went in.

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About 50 minutes had passed in total and we were well thumbs up bums when we realised that the lights had stayed green after the orange boat had gone in – unbeknown to us there was a sort of cut out in the lock making it much wider than it appeared so there was room for us too! Panic stations; start engines, where’s the cat, get the ropes off!

At the second lock they wouldn’t even acknowledge our presence although, again, there was a lot of chatter on the radio that didn’t include us. So again we lurked whilst, eventually, they loaded the lock with a million cruisers. When they came to the top, the gates opened and nobody moved – probably because there was no hurry (subsequent experience) to turn the lock lights from red to green!. So there this myriad of cruisers sat; all washing their fenders – ‘tis a very different world from barging (no offence to my cruiser friends – it’s just different). The third lock spewed a lock full of cruisers too and, by then, Baxter and I were losing the will to live – he needed the loo desperately and there was nowhere we could get him off – thank goodness for the incontinence sheets on the rear deck but he hates it and barks his protest for more than half an hour before he gives up and gives in. He hates it and we hate to see him so stressed so, lesson learnt; shorten our days’ cruising here as the locks take for ever compared to what we are used to. Locks 4, 5 and 6 were without opposing traffic but still very slow. The filled and empty locks sit there with gates open so you move forward ready to enter (by then you are caught in the weir side stream), but the lights are still red, still red, still red. Super hero says,”I’m going in” galley slave says, “you are not” he says “I am”. I say, “no, they’re remote and if you go in on red they’ll shut down”. He tried the radio again and no response but, hey ho, the light went green. Wherever did my obedient ex-serviceman disappear to that he is now prepared to jump red lights – I rather like that he is now joining my rebel camp, but not if he’s going to bugger up the locks in the process. This day had already been too long for all of us; thoroughly tedious rather than actual duration.

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Eventually we found a nice little spot amongst the trees – which we tied to – and threw out a gangplank. The mooring filled two of our three criteria and beggars can’t be choosers, mooring wise, in either Belgium or South NL. The criteria that wasn’t filled was ‘quiet’, but not too bad; there is a very busy road across the wide canal from us. On the plus side, not one single soul has walked passed our boat and if Daisy doesn’t come home with a mouse here; either mice have become extinct in NL or she has hung up her paws and claws.

It had been a stressful and not very pleasant day, but these things happen and the sun shone and we found somewhere nice for Daisy in the end. The good thing about a cruise overrun is that, by the time we sorted out ropes, animals and satellites; the sun was well and truly over the yard arm so legitimately beer o’clock time.

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2 Responses to “24th May Weert to Helmond”

  1. suenp said

    OMG! How on earth do you deal with it? FFS

    Liked by 2 people

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