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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Archive for July 7th, 2017

2nd June. Den Bosch to Woudrichem

Posted by contentedsouls on 07/07/2017

35 kms, 3 locks, 4 LB (only 1 for us), 7 hrs

We knew it was going to be a long day but we couldn’t leave until the lift bridge operated at 11am; after that it wouldn’t be operated again until 11 am on Monday. Once clear of the bridge we were soon out on to big waters with big ships again. The contents of each lock were hilarious; barges, cruisers, launches rowing boats and commercials – a somewhat eclectic mix. I couldn’t help thinking that one sneeze from the skipper of the commercial and we could all be squidged. No photos in the lock as I was otherwise occupied but I did try to capture some of the others that were in there with us. Some fairly quirky bridge superstructures too – this one carries trains.

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The weather was glorious and families galore were picnicking on the sandy banks and those with little cruisers just beached them and swam. I was delighted to see this herd of native ponies and their foals and would love to tell you all about them – but I can’t because the only info I could find was in Dutch (sorry about grainy photos but they were a very long way away). G then decided to play ‘beat the ferry’ which was a bit unnerving but we won, so that was OK. I love cruising on these big rivers.

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Turning off the big river we had intended to moor but it wasn’t possible so we had to go on through one more lock which was quite interesting. This was one of the original sloping sided grass locks (amazing as it is heavily used by commercials) and has a woodwork frame within it to moor against. They put us in first, to the left of the exit gates and then brought in a 3,100 ton ship alongside us, to the right of the exit gates (entrance and exit gates are not necessarily in line in many of these locks). You will notice I am using the term ‘exit gates’ as the lock level changed so little and there was no waterline on the walls due to the grass bank, so we have no idea which were the upstream gates!

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Now came the fun bit – we had to go out first because, such was the angle, he couldn’t leave without squidging us. However, we weren’t in line with the gate and had to come out from our hidey hole towards him to get out; except his bow thruster output kept knocking us back in again. My super hero reversed to the back of the lock to clear the ouput, got us away from the wall and took a run at it; missing the commercial and only just clipping the wall to the gate. If it was me, I’d have been destined to spend the rest of my life in that lock.

Drama over for the day it was time to find a mooring at Woudrichem; renowned for it’s historic boat harbour. There were moorings on the main river but some of it was reserved for the water taxi to Gorinchem and part was taken, so we decided to brave it (brave as in may have to reverse back out a long way) and turned into the harbour itself – WOW! This was how I imagined Holland would be.

We crept slowly into the harbour and were met by Peter the harbourmaster who offered a place on the visitor pontoon in amongst some cruisers at the far end (aerial view in photo 11) or back out on the river behind the water taxi. As there were dogs running up and down the pontoon and we would have been on the far end, Daisy would have struggled to get to land, so we opted to go back out amongst the wash and the comings and goings of the water taxi every 30 minutes.

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The old town is surrounded by an embankment which makes for a wonderful circular walk and I lost count of all the little pieces of water and tiny ports that I looked down on. The road in and the road out have flood gates which slot in when needed. This town is situated on the confluence of the Meuse (or the Maas as it is here) and the Rhine, so the potential for flooding is immense. In the last photo we are moored on the Maas, that tiny bank is all that separates it from the Rhine.

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An amazingly beautiful area full of fabulous boats and friendly people. I could have happily stayed a week but, sadly we only stayed overnight so I had to get up early in the morning to ensure I finished my exploration and do another lap of the embankment in the reverse direction. I didn’t have time to get to the new town ‘outside the city walls’. The reason we only stayed the one night was the cost. Because we are classed as an historic boat (despite not having mast, tiller, or boards), Peter chopped the price from 25 euros down to 10, but then added 2.40 euros in visitor tax.

At this point we were very worried about mooring fees as we had been warned that we would be paying quite a lot, quite often. If I had known then what I know now, I would have stayed another night or three – it’s the last day of June today – they were the only mooring charges we paid in the entire month.

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