Saturday, June 28, 2008
More on the first voyage of the Hennie H
The first voyage with our new Hennie H proved to take considerably longer than we expected. In fact I only managed just over a third of it before having to make tracks back to Rotterdam to go to work. The whole journey was probably about 275 kilometres, of which I managed to stay on board for around a hundred, but they were a hundred very beautiful kilometres for all that, and passed through some of the most idyllic green and lush countryside.
It took so long because there were so many bridges and locks to wait for. What amused both Koos and I was that even though the bridge keepers only only started at 8.00 in the morning, they stopped for lunch between 12 and 1pm and then closed again at 5, so where we had planned long days of faring, we were forced to keep to 'office hours'. Had we not been in a hurry, this would have been fine, but sadly, it meant that at Zwartsluis, just over the provincial border into Overijssel, and with still the bulk of the journey to go, I had to go back to Groningen by bus, train and taxi to fetch the van.
That was an adventure in itself. Being a Sunday in a rather traditionally protestant neck of the woods, there weren't many buses running, so I took the first one that came along with its end destination as a railway station. Having no clue where I was when I arrived in Steenwijk, I was relieved to see that the trains did at least go north to Leeuwaarden in Friesland, and then I just trusted to luck that I'd be able to get a train from there to Groningen to its east. Well I was lucky - but when I arrived in Groningen, I had to take a taxi to somewhere for which I had no address, but just a description of where we'd collected the boat. Crazy, I know but absolutely true.
While I waited at the taxi rank, I rehearsed my speech to the driver. "Take me to my car, please," I imagined myself saying with great aplomb. "And where would that be, madam?" the driver would respond. "Dunno," I would say breezily. "Just find it please, my good man!" And off we would go.
The reality was a hilarious ride round the suburbs of the city, stopping and asking a dozen or so different people if they could identify the landmarks I had in my mind. What wasn't so hilarious was the price of the fare when we finally found the van. As I still haven't 'fessed up' to Koos, I won't mention it here, but suffice to say, it was probably not quite worth the entertainment value after all!
Back at Zwartsluis again, I spent Sunday night on board, and then watched Koos leave for the next leg home before driving myself back south with Sindy. I have to say she was mightily relieved to be back in the car, as the journey on board was utterly miserable for her. Still, I would have loved to continue the journey with Koos as he found it heavy going on his own, despite the stunning scenery he passed through on the way.
As a taster of what I experienced, here is a link to a slideshow of the photos that I took on the section between Groningen and Zwartsluis. I'm sure Koos will show you more on his blog though....soon!
But until then, here are some photos of Koos arriving at the Oude Haven on Thursday afternoon. If you look at the last two, you can just see the Vereeniging's stern to the far right of the photos - the green end with the red stripe. The Hennie H is now moored up two boats along, ready to go on the slipway tomorrow.