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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15th June Utrecht to Maarssen

Posted by contentedsouls on 25/07/2017

10 kms, 0 locks, 5 LBs, 2 hours

The eagle eyed amongst you will realise that this post is one post out of sequence; I typed it, then accidentally deleted it, swore a lot, managed – just – to refrain from chucking the computer in the river, then forgot to post it!

Leaving Utrecht we passed behind the long line of ‘motels’ and, eventually, reached some really nice houseboats which showed what could be done.

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A short journey before mooring up just outside of the town centre (free). G found Mike and Annie having a nice quiet lunch at a nearby restaurant; we soon put paid to that and they advised us that the next bridge, beyond Maarssen had broken down. We had a word with the town lift bridge operator who said that the problem was serious and that they were ‘manufacturing parts’ to repair it. This sounded a bit serious.

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We made the decision to leave in the morning, turn around and back track to the big boy’s canal which, we had been warned, can be quite rough. Those of you who know me well, know that I like a bit of rough; provided it’s coming from the bow or stern … ooooo matron. Unfortunately Muttley doesn’t, so I took him for a nice long walk around the pretty town to ease my guilt.

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Having taken mirrors, pictures, glasswear etc., down into safe havens, we turned with a great deal of difficulty on this narrowish canal and much to the consternation of the people in the smart cruiser on the opposite bank. Our, ‘stick the nose on the bank and turn around it’ technique gave them apoplexy and they were trying to fend off 42 tons of Francoise with a boat hook – cruisers and barges are as different as chalk and cheese. Mission accomplished we set off back the way we had come, passing the chandlery where Mike and Annie were drinking coffee; we backed up to talk with them and they informed us that the errant lift bridge would be fixed later that day. We turned again and moored back up where we were before, putting everything fragile back in it’s rightful places. The look on the faces of the smart cruiser people was priceless – clearly convinced that they were moored opposite the local nutters.

Needless to say, the bridge didn’t re-open so I took the opportunity to go to the supermarket in the morning. I mentioned in the previous blog that I was gob smacked that the lockie had waved a credit card machine at me for his 5 euro locking fee; this is because the supermarkets (and very few shops) do not take any kind of card. Not debit, credit or pre-loaded cash cards. This can make life very embarrassing the first time you shop; arranging for a tanker of fuel to be paid for in cash is particularly challenging. We are used to it now and have adjusted, so you can imagine my shock horror when I proffered my euros at the check out of the afore mentioned supermarket only to be told, “we don’t take cash”. With great trepidation I handed over my credit card which, of course, they didn’t accept. Everyone in the queue is now showing considerable interest in my predicament, albeit in a jolly way – and one pointed out that there was a sign outside saying they don’t take cash (as if I could read it) – my relief was considerable when their machine reluctantly accepted my cash card!!!!

We decided to push on hopefully towards the recalcitrant bridge. As we entered the town lift bridge, a hire boat waiting to come through towards us pushed closer and closer to the point where we had to nudge his stern out of the way to get through – I quietly suggested that they held back a little on red lights to let the longer boats clear through. At the second town bridge we watched in amazement as our light turned green and an oncoming hire boat came through against their red light virtually sideways. Fortunately I was sat on the bow at the time so I was able to warn G; could have been a great deal of splintered fibreglass if I’d been inside doing chores.

I love the way they use their little boats to go to the supermarket, work, or just visit friends and pull over for a natter.

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We then passed Mike and Annie who knew the bridge hadn’t been fixed yesterday, but didn’t know what was happening today. In other countries it would be obvious whether boats were coming through or not, but here they all have end of garden moorings and zot up and down for the hell of it just because they can, so it’s difficult to tell. We trundled on to a pretty mooring where we watered, I dog walked and G nattered to passers by (the Heron was most unperturbed by my presence).

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Eventually a boat coming towards us confirmed that the bridge had re-opened.

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