For the last month, we've been playing musical boats in the harbour. Up until last week, it only affected me in so far as I kept seeing different barges in the Oude Haven and one or other of the other harbours in our complex was simultaneously empty.
The reason for this complicated form of boat rotation is that the Rotterdam authorities are dredging…something they need to do now and then to clear the river bed of the debris that collects there, among which are large numbers of bicycles, mobile phones, shopping trolleys and other assorted projectiles that the inhabitants decide to hurl into the waters when the spirits take them - literally and figuratively.
The dredgers started at the eastern end of our small network of harbours and worked their way up through the Haringvliet and into Wijnhaven to our west. At each stage, the barges have had to move to another harbour to allow the dredgers to work unimpeded, hence the assorted array of visitors. Then last week, the mail arrived informing those of us in the Oude Haven that it was our turn to move.
Now life needs a good deal of coordinating when it comes to shifting and finding places for twenty odd resident barges as well as quite a number who were there temporarily. The email included an extensive spreadsheet giving instructions as to who was going where, when, and by what means - some barges have no engines so had to be towed. The image below is just a portion of the table of instructions.
I was a little concerned about these arrangements since having lost my loopplank, I've been relying on my neighbours to give me access. I had visions of being stranded with the Vereeniging floating dejectedly on its own. I knew many of my fellow bargees were moving on Thursday while I couldn't move till the weekend owing to my day job.
As it happened, I decided to cancel Friday's work so I could be there, and it was just as well. On Thursday afternoon, three of the barges (in fact my immediate neighbours) had gone and the others were scheduled to leave the following day. Koos drove up from Zeeland to help and on a very soggy Friday morning, we started to get the engine running in readiness to move as the barges on each side of me were being towed.
To our dismay, the problem that caught us out when we were last moving occurred again. The engine just died. We thought we'd fixed it, but it seems there is still something wrong. The upside was that since the tug boat was on duty anyway, we could be towed too. Still, it's a worrying issue that Koos still hasn't managed to resolve despite several more hours trying to bleed the system and find out what is causing it to lose power and what's worse, to smoke badly too.
That apart, though, I am pleased with my change of scene, and looking forward to at least two weeks 'holiday' in the Haringvliet. It's only a couple of hundred metres from where I was, but it's great to have a change of outlook, so for now I'll take in my new surroundings and get a feel for it all.
The photos below are of where I am now and also of the almost empty Oude Haven.
|No loopplank needed here - just these small steps|
|A nearly empty Oude Haven - a very unusual sight|
|The current incumbent of our slipway - huge, isn't it?|