Wednesday, July 29, 2009

The Vereeniging's new skylight

A couple of weeks ago I mentioned I'd made a skylight for the Vereenging (or a koekoek as it is called here), but I hadn't taken any photos of it. Now I have, and it sits on its frame nicely too, which is good. I wanted it to be as discreet as possible, given this is still supposed to look like a cargo carrying vessel of the 19th century, but that's quite hard when making it rain proof as well. I've had to use a lot of silicon filler stuff to prevent leaks around the joints and base, and this still needs to be sanded smooth and painted over.

Next year, I intend to put a steel roof under the hatch boards and then it can be set further into the roof with with a water run-off around it, which will hide it more. So far, though, I'm rather pleased with it.

And in the way of relaxation, this is what Mo and I did this afternoon with dear friend, Aad:

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Trust is repaid

I took this photo last night when out walking through Westdorpe with Koos. There's not much left to trust in the Europe we live in today, so this reminded me of how much I like this forgotten corner of the Netherlands. We were so charmed by the arrangement, we also bought a kilo of plums and duly posted our single euro coin in the letterbox as politely requested. Nice hey? The plums are too!

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Memory Lane

Last weekend we went in search of our travelling friend Philip. We'd heard he was going to be in Brussels so we took a drive down to Anderlecht, where I used to have my own boat, and where we knew he would be heading for. We found his barge but sadly, he wasn't there. We also took a drive along the row of barges lying there and saw my old Ténacité, which didn't make me happy. It's looking very sad and messy. There are some things I regret. That's one of them. One thing I don't regret is leaving there, though. The feeling about the place is not good and it's not a happy community. I like the developments to this barge, however. it's looking a lot brighter and more loved than it used to be. Fun, isn't it? If you click on the photo, you can just see Philip's wheelhouse in the background too.

From there, we went on to another favourite haunt - Clabecq - where we walked along the canal and met Philippe, a French speaking Belgian friend who lives on his tjalk, the Prosper. He was also a little sad due to personal problems, but we had coffee with him and enjoyed sitting on the bankside in the sunshine. Clabecq remains the place where we will always wish we'd been able to stay. It's a lovely informal community, but it seems its days might be numbered and they may all be moved elsewhere in the future. Just as well it remained a dream perhaps.

When we left Philippe, we went on to Ittre. This was where I did have a mooring organised for the Ténacité before I sold it, and it is a really beautiful spot. Still, we were surprised to see how many barges were moored up along the stretch by the lock, and in a way, were glad we hadn't gone there, as it has now lost its marvellous peace. But it's still beautiful.

Ittre is remarkable for its 14 metre deep lock, which is pretty impressive when it's empty or you are at the top looking down. The photo above shows the area in front of the lock, so you can see its depth. In the one below, it's full and looks calm, totally normal and peaceful. The last picture is of the row of barges now moored there. The Ténacité would have been one of them at one time. Ah well.... it was good to go back all the same.

All photos here are Koos's. I was using my old Olympus Trip 35 that day and am just waiting for the film to come back. I've now decided there's a place for both analogue and digital - one for the nice prints and the other for the Internet and nice slide shows!

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Summer work mode

I've just realised I haven't done a post for more than a week. Well, not on this blog anyway. My house blog has had a few updates for those of you who might still be interested ( - although most of the photos are on Facebook too. I;ve also done some writing and the Skipper's Child is coming close to its dénoument. Sad for me as I'll miss Arie and Co.There's still plenty of editing to be done before I can go to print, though. It's taken me so long to write this tale, I've almost forgotten what's happened along the way. Funny when you think that the whole story only covers three days (or is it four?) I'll probably try and publish it for Christmas as it's set around that time. Seems like a good idea anyway.

Apart from that, I've been busy with ship stuff too. This last week I devoted to making a new skylight for the Vereeniging. I haven't got any pics of it yet as I only finished it on Friday afternoon and there's still a frame to be attached to the Vereeniging for it to sit on, but I'm pretty pleased with it.

Next week will be a Luxor week, so I want to start on the interior insulation if it's not too hot, but if the sun shines, there's plenty to keep me busy outside too..oh and yes, I do still have to go to work, but the week after that...I"M FREE!!!

Friday, July 10, 2009

New looks for the Luxor

In the past weeks I've been pretty busy on the Luxor and its gangboorden and decks are now newly painted and rust free. Unfortunately, though, the very hot weather we had while I was beavering away did as much damage as the cold and wet. Everything got so hot, things started to contract, even the steel. The results became annoyingly clear when the rain started at the beginning of this week. It was as if someone had drilled holes in the roof and left the tap running.

What probably caused it was popping rivets as the steel on the roof was taken from the old deck (as in deckschuit). This was compounded by the fact that Koos's beautiful (ahem) blue tarpaulin had sprung a few leaks of its own, so the interim solution has been to buy a couple of new ones - this time in a more traditionally (and harbourly) accepted shade of green.

So, voila, the Luxor is becoming more spruce and shiny by the day. The next task is to paint the planks and restore the wheelhouse...oh and perhaps we'd better repair the roof as well....

Saturday, July 04, 2009

Festival time

Yesterday, Jodie and I went to one of Europe's great rock festivals at Werchter in Belgium. We mainly went to see Coldplay, who closed the day and were truly awesome again. They are brilliant at festivals because the carry the crowd with them, and once again, we left the grounds with everyone still singing the chant from Viva la Vida. Truly great, but no surprises about that. it was what we were expecting anyway.

The biggest surprises for me were Elbow, whose act we just caught the end of, and the Killers. Elbow are really different and very good indeed, playing a kind of prog-rock instrumental mix combined with Keane style melodies and soaring vocals. Yummy music. I like! The Killers, on the other hand, have a distinct new Wave feel and were EXCELLENT! It's not popular to like them it seems, but they were so professional and such great performers. They put on a fantastic show and I loved it.

One thing we both noticed was how pleasant and well organised the festival was. The market and food stalls were mostly lining the approaching road outside the grounds, and had places where you could sit down and eat or drink in comfort. There were also stalls inside but not so many, and it meant there was less of a crush. The crowd were peaceful, friendly and polite with young guys even apologising for being tall if they were standing in front of us, and asking if we could see properly. We couldn't of course, but that wasn't their fault, and we appreciated the kindness. As usual we had to rely on the big screens to see all but glimpses of the performers, but all the same it was great to be with such a nice crowd, and a very mixed one at that. I was definitely not the oldest there...amazing, hey?

Thursday, July 02, 2009

In the trail of the Snail

Today was one of those days that will live long in my memory.

It started off as a disaster and ended as an adventure with new friends. The disaster was that the Hennie Ha could not be craned onto dry land for its much needed repairs. When Koos arrived at the yard this morning, the helling boss started the process of lifting it out of the water and then stopped. His on-board computer told him that our dainty little barge has a weight problem. It tipped the scales at a serious 19 tons, nearly double what we had estimated; the bad news was that their crane has a maximum lifting capacity of 15 tons. Even worse was that it had been towed to Zelzate yesterday because the oil cooler was leaking like a worn out tap and the repair to the steering had lasted about five minutes and then broke again. Now it would have to be towed back again to Sas van Gent as the only chance to get it out of the water again will be up the slipway in October. Our luck really sucks sometimes.

Our good angel-cum-volunteer for the task turned out to be the famous Wandering Snail of my previous post. Annie had picked up my note last week and sent me an email to say they would be in Zelzate visiting friends, and sure enough, there they were in the marina. Koos had already made contact, so when I arrived from Rotterdam, we both went onto their gorgeous narrowboat to meet them. What a charmer it is and what really lovely people they are too. They showed us around..or I should say along, because it really is very narrow... but it is beautifully fitted out by Oll, and exactly in the style that I love with quite a bit of canal boat art as part of the decor. Anyway, to cut a long (and narrow) story short, they offered to tow the Hennie Ha back to Sas van Gent for us, which they did, along with Koos and their two friends. I had to do shore duty as transport driver, photo taker and rope catcher, but I was very glad to be able to take these photos of a somewhat unique sight on the Belgian waterways! It was quite an adventure for the Snail, which looked very proud to be acting as tugboat to the stricken Hennie Ha. I think all concerned were also rather pleased with the neatly executed manoeuvring at the end of the journey (remember the Hennie H has no steering).

Well done and thank you so much Oll, Annie, Rikus and Nelleke. You were all stars. We are so very glad to have met you and are honoured to have been towed by such a waterways celeb ;-)