Monday, May 26, 2008

Ludo is amazing

So much has happened this past week that it's hard to know where to begin with a new post. Most of you who come here already know about the new barge. Well, as if that's not exciting enough, on Friday, the Vereeniging's 'new' engine and gearbox were finally pronounced in good working order after the endless saga it has been to get it fitted and working.

I haven't said much here about the frustration and anxiety that has been the story of the new engine, but if I tell you it was April last year when this one was put in and November 2006 when the old one was removed, it's been 18 months since my Vereeniging has had a running engine. All that time, it has felt like a ship without a soul, and Koos and I have come to near desperation at times not knowing what to do and how to fix the seemingly insurmountable problem of the reverse gear that just wouldn't work. Given that a boat has no brakes, I don't need to tell you that a good working reverse gear is just a bit important! I personally have wept, howled and raged by turn at the seemingly limitless amount of money I was having to spend on it, and the crunch came when the so-called expert I paid handsomely to put it right brightly offered me another complete engine for €4500 to replace this one when the fruits of his labour didn't work either. I sat down and sobbed. Luckily, for my sanity and Koos's too, we'd heard about the 'engine doctor' that our Philip used. He is a small wiry Belgian with a genius for curing engine ills, so I called Philip. He called man, and last Thursday, Ludo the magician came. He took the gearbox apart, diagnosed the problem, and with Koos, shaved bits off gear wheels, adjusted settings, realigned axles, and bingo! After 12 hours hard work, everything was magically fine! I can still hardly believe it's true, but from now on Ludo will be the first person I call for any serious problem, even though he has to drive all the way up from Belgium to do it....and on Friday, we hope to take the Vereeniging out for a short test spin in honour of a visit from two of my old college will most definitely follow.

Anyway, with all that over, we then rushed off down to the house, and spent a beautiful Saturday looking for a mooring for the new barge. I have to confess I went through a few moments of fear that this new baby would start to eclipse the Vereeniging, but I don't think that will happen now. The little Hennie will never be a live aboard boat. It is too small and Koos can't even stand up straight in it. It is a little charmer for sure, and I'm sure we'll have lots of fun with it, but the Vereeniging is home and the ship that I've put my heart and soul into. So far, we haven't found a mooring, but hope we can before the middle of June when we'll be going to fetch it.

Before then, though, I'm off to visit Momo for a week in South Africa. That is going to be fun as I am travelling ultra cheap and flying Egypt Air, which means a four hour stop in Cairo each way. In June. Hmmmm. Hot? May well be. I will be staying with Momo and Craig in Postmasburg, a small town (which really only has one horse!) in the middle of the Karoo, which is the southern Kalahari Desert. I can't wait to go, as Mo has planned some trips out to places I haven't been to since the early nineties, and we may even reach Namibia, which would be will most definitely follow...

Lastly, I have been busy with a mini project of which I am beginning to be quite proud. With the Vereeniging ready to fare again, I remembered that we are obliged to have the name and home port of our barges clearly visible on the back of the ship. I have the name at the front, but not at the back. Most people have this done by professionals who carve the name, port and other details on beautiful pieces of teak. But, this comes at a price. A high price.

Thus....I decided to have a go myself. I found a nice piece of old pine which was one of the old benches in the vooronder of the Vereeniging, and with a router (I think that's how you spell it), I have 'carved' out the info needed and painted it in. Now I just need to find a smaller cutter to put in the date of build and the registration number...and I want to re-paint my name. Red doesn't really work, so I'll do it again in black. It might look a little informal and unprofessional, but the name's not going to come off now, and I rather like its slight irregularities!


  1. I think I'll need to re-cut my own name on the board as well as re-paint it! It looks more uneven than I realised now. Just as well the red doesn't show too much!

  2. Oops, I wonder if anyone will read all this! It's such a long post. I hadn't realised that either...

  3. Hi Val,
    Of course we read your posts, long or short! You have busy times ahead, my dear. I hope you have a fantastic time in SA, although my first thought was, I hope you don't get caught in all the troubles there. It has been on my mind because of my mother living there and reading about the violence in the papers.

    I think it's great that you've added a new barge- will this be the travelling van? Kudos to Ludo for making yours ship-shape!


  4. Well I read it all and savoured every word Vally. And I'd only just responded to your last post (to my shame on several counts).

    I think doing the name yourself is perfect. You've put your heart and soul into the rest of the ship, so why wouldn't you take this honour? Of course, your skill with a power tool of any sort is legendary. Me, I'd just reach for a broad-nib Texta (sorry, marker) and make a complete hash of it.

    What a relief to get the engine sorted after all your tribulations - and expense. I'm really looking forward to your next batch of photos. Make sure Ludo's name is on speed-dial in your phone! How fantastic to be catching up with old friends at the same time you're giving her a rebirthing spin. I'm very jealous.

    Have a wonderful time in South Africa. It sounds as if you're in for a very special trip indeed. I didn't know Mo and Craig lived in such an interesting area - it sounds hot though! Was it lifestyle or some exotic employment which lured them there?

    Better go to bed before my comment rivals your post in length. I have missed you dearly, and will try hard to make time to catch up more regularly. If I can fit it in between bouts of dusting, obviously.

  5. I've read it twice... Have work to do, I'll be back!

  6. Pleased the Bargie is all better now, and the sign you have made is just fabulous!, you are multi talented Vallypee!..

    Good luck with the test spin on friday..

    Off to South Africa soon eh?, well you will have a wonderful time there for sure..

    Yeah!, you got a Myspace :0)..

  7. Hi Val, I am glad all is in working order now. Frustrating it must have been. Have a safe trip. xo

  8. Hi Val, I've been by several times, but not had a chance to comment proper.

    I think it's always an amazing stroke of luck (or call it what you will), when one chances upon that single soul who can fix something that, in the beginning, is so frustrating and appears an insurmountable obstacle.
    Patience is really a virtue, but you also have to keep on your toes and grab an opportunity as it passes.

    Here's to faring in your beloved Vereeniging, once more!

    And have a great week with Momo and Craig in SA.

    Koos may really believe the sky is falling while aboard your Hennie Pennie...

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