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Thursday, 26 December 2013

Paris – Amersfoort, the whole trip and our new mooring

the last leg of 2013

For all kinds of reasons we still had to post the blog on the last leg of our 2013 trip.
Like each year, as soon as we arrive on our winter mooring we are immediately swept up by “winter life” which quickly pushes barging and all that comes with it to the background.
This year it was not just meeting with friends and family that we had hardly seen this summer, but we also were immersed in (planned but hard hitting none the less) medical arrangements and in (unexpected and unplanned) the purchase of a permanent mooring.
We’re fine now again and the purchase – about which more below – is about to be concluded. Quiet has returned and with that the time to write the last blog-entry.
After two weeks stay in Paris (which we enjoyed so much that we will go there again next year) we left by the canal St. Denis, that joins the Seine in the North-West side of Paris.
It is clearly not a tourist route and it takes you right through a less pretty and less prosperous part of Paris, but not less interesting.
From the Seine on the Oise Northwards with a stop-over in Auvers-sur-Oise, the village where Vincent van Gogh and his brother Theodore are buried.
the graves of the van Gogh brothers
I was a bit sad to find both graves looking very decrepit and neglected, in a village where everything revolves around Van Gogh, making quite a bit of money out of him.
still a bit to go to Holland and this is by road
The distance to the Netherlands is here already indicated because Zundert is Van Gogh’s birthplace.
Via the canal du Nord which we, contrary to others, don’t mind barging we went to Antoing in Belgium.
Just South of the border we ran into a spot of bother. Just as we were trying to get to a mooring in a shallow spot, our propeller got stuck. We never knew what had happened, but it was clear that something had hit the prop as it had stopped turning.
After pausing for deliberation, moving to and fro and in the end a bit of luck the prop worked again, but we couldn’t assess the damage, if any.
We crept towards the nearby lock where we were allowed to moor ‘cause of our mishap. We rang our insurance who advised us to carry on and to find a dock, should anything be wrong.
a very helpful VNF man
Opposite us there was a crew of VNF working on the embankment and they offered to help with their sloop, but even they couldn’t get at the prop.
Others later told us that they had gotten into the canal themselves, which never crossed our minds, probably because we’re not keen swimmers.
We then cruised on, problem-free, until in Amersfoort we heard something ticking, by the sound of it something sticking out from the prop.
Once we were moored in Amersfoort, our neighbours in the marina, the fire brigade, inspected our propeller, as part of their diving training. And, to our amazement, they brought up the remains of a steel cable, apparently gotten stuck on the drive shaft. They then inspected the prop, which they found undamaged.
a diver under 't Majeur
Michel shows 'the catch'
When we did the conversion a few years ago we invested in a “rope cutter”, a kind of knife mounted on the drive shaft that cuts ropes and lines.
At that time Michel always said it was the most expensive piece of metal on the ship, but we now think it was a sound investment as it has probably been cutting heaven knows what in those past years.
where the rope cutter is positioned and does its work

the rope cutter
In Antoing we topped up our diesel tanks for winter and waited for friends that joined us there on their own barge.
Together we cruised via Brussels, the river Rupel to Antwerp and the Biesboch homewards.
Summer had left us, the nights had become chilly and the mornings were misty.
Although our geraniums were still courageously blooming, spiders were busy building their webs, always a nice sight when they’re all dew covered.
And then we were back in Amersfoort, having done about 2400 kilometres, clocked 440 engine hours and having passed 450 serviced artefacts, 360 of them locks.
the whole 2013 trip
As said before, we bought a mooring.
Our long-time planning contained the idea of looking for a permanent mooring in a few years’ time, maybe even buying one, but we don’t need one right now as we cruise extensively and can always get a winter mooring someplace.
Why then now?
Once we cannot or won’t cruise anymore we can still live on-board ‘t Majeur, but preferably close to what we find important, as there are shops, cinemas, theatre and the library. In a town, obviously, but we also want a bit of greenery and quiet around us.
For a ship of our size a needle in a haystack, hard to find.
As you may understand by now, we did run into it by chance and we decided not to sniff at the opportunity.
Situated at the outer rim of Utrecht’s centre, only one bridge and a lock away from the Amsterdam-Rhine canal. A quiet neighbourhood, lots of green, 15 minutes to the train station by bike. A perfect spot to live in and to start barging from.
the location of our new mooring in Utrecht
seen from the water, the Vaartse Rijn
and from the other side of the canal
 With the mooring comes a ship, so we consider ourselves fleet owners now.
the boat that is now on the mooring, the Gerritje, now part of our fleet
The ship is a 1927 Katwijker, converted to houseboat, but still maintaining the old looks, it just lacks an engine.
The ship has to be sold, anyone interested ……?
For now we will let the ship as a houseboat, the way it is now, until we can sell it or when we decide to moor ‘t Majeur there.
All in all the last few months have been a stressy period, but we’re still healthy and very happy having secured this mooring for our future use.
We are now planning next year’s route for which we already have several options.
Before we start barging again we expect to become grandparents first, as our first grandchild is due by the end of March.
As soon as our 2014 planning is ready and the web site is brought up-to-date we will send out a mailing.

And next year, when we are barging again, we will keep you posted of our adventures here as well.
So long,

Rebecca and Michel

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