Monday, September 15, 2008

The Hennie H moves south

Saturday was the day. After two months of wrestling with mechanical problems on our new bargelet, the Hennie H, Koos finally decided that it was now or never, and quite impulsively for such a trip, we set off on a cool and cloudy Saturday afternoon. It was much colder on the water than I expected, and although I really enjoyed the faring, it would have been difficult to tell from the shivering blob sitting on the back deck next to Koos. We made good time, though and by 6.30 we were at the entrance to my watery nemesis - the Hollandsch Diep. It was a toss up whether to keep going and head across to the Volkerak Sluis (lock), or play it safe and stop at Strijen Sas. Given that we had no lights, and couldn't be sure of making it across before sundown, the latter won. Not that I was sorry, because we had time for a long walk in peaceful country and something to eat at the local 'eet café' before settling down for the night. At the lock, that would have been it - just the lock.

Sunday morning dawned crystal clear and bright with the sparkling water and bright sunshine. The Diep didn't get me this time, and neither did the Volkerak (another Diep). It was truly beautiful as we passed through the Rijn Schelde canal and then into the lock before the Oosterschelde (a monster Diep). This lock was quite a small one and we were the only ones in it. It only had a few inches to go up or down, but we waited...and waited...then the foot tapping started. Twenty minutes later, an apologetic lock keeper appeared to tell us the door wouldn't open, and would we mind waiting half an hour? We smiled - not much choice really! Still, it gave Koos a chance to set his mind at rest about his mechanical nightmares, and indeed, half an hour later we made our way out of the lock into - the Sea...eeek!

The Oosterchelde was very choppy with strong winds, white caps and lots of waves. It was also very beautiful but hard for me to appreciate given that I was clenching my teeth to keep my stomach from making a grand and messy exit. An hour and some later, both my innards and I were relieved to enter the South Beverland canal and still waters again. We'd made amazingly good time, and by 4.30, we'd reached the big locks at Hansweert, and the entrance to the notoriously busy and sealike estuary, the Westerschelde, where I elected to leave Koos. Two reasons. I had to be sure of getting back to Rotterdam for work today, and secondly, I didn't really want my stomach to have a second attempt at parting company with me. The last picture here was taken at the top of the lock, up which I'd climbed to get off the boat. I was a little worried about leaving Koos as the traffic on the WS is also notoriously large and plentiful. As I watched him leaving, I saw a sea ship the size of a whole town passing the entrance to the canal. Gulp! The Hennie H is so small. Would they even see it?

An hour an a half and an 8km walk later, as I was waiting for the train to take me back to Rotterdam, the phone rang, and it was Koos. I could hear something was up. "I've arrived in Terneuzen," he said "Wow!! That's fantastic. Well done!!" I shouted with relief. "Yes, well that was the good news. The bad news is that as I left the Westerschelde to turn into Terneuzen, the rudder got stuck and wouldn't turn anymore."

I'm not sure at all that was bad news now. It's terrible that there is yet another problem with the Hennie H, but I think the angels were watching over Koos yesterday. If the steering had got stuck when he was still on the open waters...well, it just doesn't bear thinking of, does it?

Luckily, with the help of the Terneuzen lock keeper, and a kindly commercial skipper, the Hennie H was towed the remaining 15 odd kilometres, and is now at its official mooring in Sas van Gent. On to phase 2 of its restoration. Ah well, at least it's finally where we want it!

The Hollandsch Diep

Past the Volkerak Sluis

Not a very good one of you know who

The Lock where we got stuck

Koos leaving to cross the Westerschelde. Apparently it was calmer than the Oosterschelde, so I'd probably have been ok!

PS: Apologies for the poor quality of the photos. All are from my phone. In our rush to leave, I forgot two important items: My book and my camera!


  1. Looks like Hennie H is encountering its (her?) share of difficulties. Good luck to her and to you as the restoration continues.

    It's always enjoyable to read about your voyages, not only because of the author of the accounts having a way with the words, as the saying goes, but also because these voyages - not to mention the hard work that goes into the restoration - are personal and enjoyable to you.

    I must note that "the shivering blob" is an extremely effective description of a miserable moment.

  2. So Val, what would you have done with your time had you not had all those repairs on your dear Hennie H?
    She is now seaworthy, as in not taking on water, and she can also be a great source of pride for you and Koos! The love you have put into her rebirth shines through.
    As for the quality of the photos, they are fabulous, considering they are communicated via a tool that was originally designed through which to listen...

    Keep the stories coming, Val!
    I so enjoy going on your voyages with you - something that I would have never considered possible for me. I can now live on the water and go on those wonderful adventures vicariously through you and Koos!

    I hope you are able to have that rudder repaired, but all in good time, now that Hennie H is moored safely at her new home.

    As for your stomach and its contents, it's good to hear they are also stilled safely moored...


  3. What an adventure Val! And I am so glad Koos arrived at the Hennie H's destination safely... I totally understand his Facebook update now!
    And the reno's in your floating abode look wonderful! I look forward to seeing them in person one day... :)
    Jetting off for now, but wanted to say hello and all is well, and tell you even though I am so absent lately, I do pop on and enjoy your stories so often.
    Talk soon

  4. Hi Val,
    I know it's been quite a while since I've dropped by. I've been doing OK, I'm still in school. Looks like you're having some interesting adventures.

    Take care.

  5. vallyp:


    Great post!

    Choppy, yet crazy journey...looks so very eventful, especially with the photos, especially with the photo of one Koos, a sea legend.

    --Dan L.

  6. I love the way you write Val. And the pictures were wonderful, glad everything was safe with the steering.

  7. Val thank you so much (as always) for all your lovely comments in the past month on my personal blog. I pay more attention these days to my Design blog and web Boutique it seems...I need to get over here more for a hello. How rude of me!! My apologies!

    I wanted to let you know that one of my dearest friends from college and my sorority sister just married a guy from Holland and lives over there now. We are thinking on a trip and also to stay with them and meet up. So we will now have a wonderful excuse to visit you and Koos and see this romance of the barge you write about. It always seems like a dream to me to float off to who knows where. My Dad spoke of it one time to my mom who was not keen on it but I sure could! Perhaps we will just stay and float with you haha!

    xoxo Molly

  8. How lovely to see Maria, Metalchick and Ballerinagurl here, not to mention Dan the Man and dear regular friends Maria, Stevie Grace and Dale.

    Yes, we had a great trip despite all the trials and tribulations of the before and after episodes. Today I went and had a look at the Hennie H in its new mooring and it looks very very happy, even if a little small next to its grander, more opulent neighbours. It has a nice, grassy bank and a neat little jetty to tie up to. I'm all inspired to collect pots of plants and make our Hennie's little patch a real ligplaats to be proud of.

    Maria and Dale, I do love the restoration and would cheerfully give up my job to spend all my time either working on my boat(s) or my books, but for the time being, that's not to be. Maybe my stories will bear fruit one of these days!

  9. Hi Val,
    I'm glad all ended well for Koos, the Hennie, and your stomach. I totally understand that work is keeping you very busy...


  10. Uh-oh...! No radar reflectors and no light!!?

    I feel so at home in your photos you know and a good story it is.
    I hope you can solve all the mechanical problems with poor Hennie H soon. A stuck rudder sounds dangerous. I once lost rudder function last summer because of a loose bolt in the mechanism and that wasn't funnyat all.
    I lifted my dinghy out of the water last Sunday and put it into the shed for the winter with a little help from Ingela and some friends.

  11. Thank you for your compliments, Val. We're doing our very best ;)

    As for your restoration, writing etc. - I really admire your energy!


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