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

  • June 2018
    M T W T F S S
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Archive for June, 2018

There was a plan…..and then there was a rescue

Posted by contentedsouls on 17/06/2018

The plan was to remove ourselves to one of the isolated moorings and do some work – himself working outside on the superstructure (weather permitting) and myself decorating the bedroom. After we’d put a few days work in, we would cruise a day then work a day.

You’ll be surprised (well, we certainly were!) to know that this plan started off very well. We removed ourselves to a solitary spot where the animals could wander about safely and we could run power tools without disturbing anyone.

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The weather, however, didn’t hold up for long and we scurried about to get everything indoors as this lot approached us


It really did get quite unpleasant and uncovered a few more leaks that we didn’t know we had. Within 10 minutes our peaceful lake had turned into a raging ‘sea’, complete with breaking waves and no, I didn’t go outside to take the photos.


After a couple of days we thought we’d pop in to Grou for a day for a little R & R – last time we tried was in August and there was no hope of getting a mooring then. We were lucky this time and bagged the only mooring big enough for us – luckier than we realised as it was the official opening of a new stretch of waterway and there was ‘a bit of a celebratory do’ going on. Grou is pretty as you approach it, but the town itself was a disappointment to us consisting largely of restaurants and up market clothes shops and the weather was too cold to tempt us to stay – definitely not a day for people watching over a coffee. Having failed to get what we wanted, we did a quick food top up and left within 2 hours.


Another working day (during which the klik, finally, was re-united with the rudder) and I expressed a desire to visit the nature park at Earnewald hoping to see the nesting Storks still with their young before they fledged. This suited G as he wanted to go to the Skutsje Museum.


Tuesday morning got hotter and hotter as Muttley and I set off round the gorgeous nature park in pursuit of baby storks – wildlife and babies abounded, but not a stork nest was seen – just the one fully grown version. Incidentally, storks are now thriving in the NL and no longer protected.


Somewhere during that morning we discovered that good friends of ours were in a little bit of trouble (Betty). They couldn’t start their engine and had spent the night at anchor with half of them into the main shipping lane – a situation that doesn’t make for a good night’s sleep. So we abandoned our intention of heading to Groningen and got the chance to don our Thunderbirds costumes again – re-tracing our route and then beetling down the PMK – the main shipping canal that’s the fastest way to get anywhere in this neck of the woods. I love it as you see so many different craft; it’s a bit like the M25 but without the traffic jams. Before we joined the main canal, we saw this little house up for sale – we looked up the details later; 450,000 euros.


We picked up Noorderzon’s AIS quite away out – but even without the AIS we could hardly miss them; not many people choose to ‘park’ in such a daft place!!!!!!!!!!


Ah, that sign explains it – a shame for them that the ‘help’ was only the mottley crew of Francoise. We moored alongside and, like all good Brits, Jill put the kettle on. Noorderzon is big – a proper ship – and you get a fab view from up top.


A quick planning/strategy meeting and we left them there and headed for nearby land because we couldn’t agree the salvage terms we couldn’t attempt to move them until the wind had dropped. They weigh 70 tons to our 36 so it was going to be a bit tricky. Equally, we couldn’t stay with them as we didn’t want to add our 36 tons onto their anchor; increasing the risk of them being dragged further into the shipping lane. So we sat on the pontoon and waited…and waited….and waited. Eventually (around 9.30pm) the wind dropped sufficiently for us to go back and give it a whirl. With Noorderzon strapped to us (we felt very small) she weighed anchor and we headed slowly towards land in the setting sun.


Unfortunately, ‘towards’ land was as good as it got as she is deep drafted and there wasn’t the water to get her all the way in; none-the-less we left her anchored in safe waters as the sun set.

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The next morning we took Francoise across and picked up Jill, Gary, Chula and Gem (and, of course, the recalcitrant starter motor) and set off for land and the Archbold car. The ladies (that includes me) walked the dogs and retired to the local hotel for liquid refreshments in the heat of the glorious sun whilst watching the traffic roaring up and down the PMK – it was the first time I’d felt like we were properly ‘back’. Whilst we were relaxing, our intrepid skippers took the starter motor into Grou and then went on to do, “a few other bits and pieces”; looking very pleased with themselves on their return. Gary had ‘acquired’ an outboard for his tender.

It was no surprise then when Gary came across to us in the morning in the tender to see if G wanted to go out and play little ships – G, of course, couldn’t because he was far too busy.


So where has G gone – his equivalent of a Reggie Perry? Oh look; there he is!


They just can’t help themselves!

G took us across to Gary’s car by tender the next day and dog sat Baxter and Muttley whilst we went shopping around DIY stores for paint, curtain rings, tender bailers and goodness knows what else; it took forever but it was nice to get away from the boat for a day.


Gary made us new seats for our tender too and the repaired starter motor was recovered – we even found time to have a drink together one evening and sat watching the hot air balloons going over; some so low that we could talk to them. I think it must have been quite late when they returned to Noorderzon.


I had noticed that Baxter hadn’t come out on deck to join us for the evening (he normally likes company whilst he sleeps!) and G had had to carry him up the steps and off the boat before bedtime. He was no better on Saturday morning (back legs still not working) and Francoise was a very sad boat as G and I agreed to go back to Aldeboarn on Sunday to pick up the van so that we could take him to the vet on Monday. Living with a very old dog is like living with the sword of Damocles hanging over your head. Baxter, however, had stayed awake long enough to overhear our conversation and clearly had other ideas for his end of life plan. Sunday morning he took himself up the steps and off out for a wee, returning with a waggly tail looking for his breakfast biscuits (we took him to the vets on Monday anyway and got him a steroid injection – he’s now eating us out of boat and home).

We shared dinner with Gerrit and Gezina the two evenings we were in Aldeboarn but then had to leave as we weren’t actually getting any work on the boat done – so it was back off to ‘nowhere’ and the power tools.

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