Saturday, June 01, 2013

A good boating year

I was looking through my photos earlier and found myself hanging around in 2005. It was quite a year for all sorts of reasons, one of which was that we did more than the usual waterways travelling during the summer. I don't remember exactly, but it looks as if it was a very good summer. My photos show days and days of beautiful sunshine.

On one trip we went to a festival in a place called Strijensas. The word sas is an old Dutch word for a lock, so it is Strijen at the lock. We'd been there before for the same festival on Koos's Luxor, but this time we went on the Vereeniging. The event was for historic barges and we all moored along the banks of the old canal in the village. Very pretty, very peaceful and very gezellig. To get to Strijensas, you have to travel south along the great river systems around Rotterdam until you reach the open water of the Hollands Diep. The trip upstream was lovely, but once we reached the wide waters, things went wrong.

The Vereeniging moored up in Strijensas

Among the other boats and barges

Another participant in the event
For me, the Hollands Diep has always been a terrifying waterway as until recently I have only ever had bad experiences on it. The first times were with the Luxor when we were caught in a force 9 gale, and had engine trouble, no minor matter when you cannot see the shore except as a distant haze. It is my nemesis, and this time was no exception. This time the Vereeniging's engine, a magnificent monument itself built in 1921, decided to die on us. Although we managed to reach the sas and then safety with the help of wind and current, we had to be towed back to Rotterdam after the festival alongside a much larger barge that belonged to some friends of ours.

My Sindy looking young and beautiful on the foredeck

Leaving Strijensas
The Vereeniging's old engine - in motion
 The trip was a nightmare. I won't go into it in detail now as I'll probably include it in my book, but suffice to say I was a nervous wreck by the time we arrived in Schiedam, where our friends had their mooring. Once in the safety of the canal system, we tried the engine again and it worked but kept stalling. Bearing in mind, it took two of us, and generally around twenty minutes to get it going again, and that only as long as we had enough compressed air to start it, meant that it was no easy task.

Moored up in Schiedam

The view from the Vereeniging's side panel - open
 on a hot summer's day

We stayed in beautiful Schiedam for a few days to recover. And it was then I made the momentous decision to replace my wonderful, historic engine with something slightly more reliable.

But more of that later….


  1. Oh, dear, the idea of the engine dying in mid stream is horrid! I am of the view that modern engines are better than historic engines, at least in places where they are out of sight! :)

  2. Jenny, in practice you're right, but the nostalgic appeal of a historic engine is very powerful. I loved mine and still have a photo of it on my desk! My 'new' engine is still very old - from the early fifties - but the one I had that you see in the photo was built in 1921.

  3. Ooooh, we've all been there with trips that we think 'why am I doing this, it is supposed to be enjoyable', then we have a few lovely days and forget the horrors! Still from our perspective with the pictures it all looks very serene and idyllic!! Xxx

  4. Aah, Fran, I'm sure you know all about that too. You have so much more experience than I have!

  5. Hi Val .. I must admit engines breaking down are pretty frustrating .. and I'm sure Vereeniging's decision to shut off was exceedingly irritating .. and spoilt the trip.

    As you say the Strijensas wasn't a happy landing place ..

    But the new engine I'm sure made all the difference .. cheers Hilary

  6. Engines... aarrggh!
    I replaced my hand started old 2 cyl. Wickström, petrol and kerosene 4-stroke engine from 1959, in 2007 much because of the fact that at least half of the 12 horses had left the stable and that kerosene for engine purpouses was not to find anywhere in Finland since many years and the price of petrol went up the roof.
    The ceremonies of starting the old thing were mych beyond the comprehension of my wife and kids so I got an ultimatum; replace the engine with a modern diesel or we will not enter that boat again...
    The replacement is a Westerbeke 20B (i.e. a Mitsubishi standard 2 cyl 20 HP diesel "marinated" in the USA) that can be started by pushing the button(s) and the first two seasons went without a problem but then in the middle of the summer 2009 one day after driving for 15 minutes I got loud alarm regarding the oil pressure. Dropped the anchor and started checking for leaks and broken parts. The problem was the oil pressure switch where the contact lug had broken off because of material fatigue because of the vibrations. Well taht was not too bad, easlily fixed. The the next year everyone using diesel in their boats had to change to the same diesel fuel as used in the cars with much higher tax than the fuel for heating and engine purpouses we could use earlier. Because of some stupid EU-rule...
    Only registered fishing and transport vessels can use the cheaper fuel.
    This spring when launching the boat I could not get the heating plugs and the fuel lift pump to work. I could get the starter running but I had to heat the plugs bu connecting the heater rail directly to the "+" pole of the battery by using a atarter cable. I then had to go through all the cable plugs and connections until I finally found a faulty connection at the supply of the heater solenoid. Spent one sunny Satyrday afternoon doing that when I could have been sippng on an ice-cold beer and watching the seagulls and white-tailed eaagles.
    So, old engines or new engines, you are always in more or less trouble..

  7. Well, this is a long way outside my comfort zone and experience! It sounds horrendous! A vessel as large as yours without power must be a monster of a problem; thank goodness you have good friends on the waterways to help. I sense that the barge community is very supportive. This is all going to make very entertaining (but I'll bet it wasn't fun at the time!)reading. A fascinating post. :)

  8. Isn't it wonderful how pictures only tell half the story! (And how things that are grim at the time can become almost-fun in the telling!)

  9. Lovely pictures and words Val!

  10. Oh goodness, so sorry for the late reply to all these thoughtful comments. I really thought I had responded, and now I see a big empty space, I seem to have been having a bad week as far as memory goes. I have had my days mixed up, and even went to meet someone for dinner this evening when it should have been tomorrow. Overwork, that has to be it :-)

    Anyhow, Hilary, yes, the new engine - despite being as old as I am - is much more reliable. Thank you!

    Hans, your story leads me to believe that although a bit of trouble, your old engine was actually more reliable than the new one!

    Christina, there have been so many 'out of comfort zone' experiences , I hesitate to tell them all :-)

    Jo, humour is definitely one of the advantages of hindsight. It certainly wasn't funny at the time!

    String, thank you! That means a lot having now read your beautiful post!

  11. I'd like to live in the house on the photo with the dog on top of the boat.It would be lovely.

  12. Sorry that you had terrible engine trouble. The pictures look lovely, and I'm glad it all worked out in the end.


  13. I adore the photo of Sin!
    What a charmed life for you all


  14. That does sound terrifying. At least with our experience on the UK canals we were never too far from the canal tow path. It's not sailing in the real sense of the word, not like the sort of sailing that you do!

  15. Anne, I think you would love that house. It's in a very picturesque place and I wouldn't mind living there too. The only problem is that I think it's one of the very very religious Dutch villages, so you would have to get used to a rather organised weekend, especially Sundays :-)

    Julie, thank you for calling in! Yes, it all turned out fine in the end, thank goodness!

    June, Sin looks very young in the photo. Now she's an old doggie, but still beautiful!

    Ros, I would just love to have an English canal holiday. It must be so very restful!


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