Sunday, May 30, 2010

Updates and downsides

The news isn't encouraging all round, I'm afraid, all excepting the wonderful sound of my Vereeniging's engine starting as I press the button and it roars into life - bliss!

The update on my wet bottom isn't good though ;-P. My wonderful daughters came and helped me yesterday. We scraped and cleaned the rust off the area I had pulled up in front of what we discovered were two leaky water tanks (now emptied, thanks to lots of assistance from Koos, too).

In fact, we were all ready to go with the vlak vet, the thick black grease that we use to protect our particular type of bottom. Then I had a thought. Maybe I should check further along the floor, and so Jodie and I pulled up another two boards running down the middle of the barge. I should mention that all these boards were originally screwed down into the ribs, but what with getting wet and all, the screws had rusted, which meant destroying the wood around them to get them out. Still, I said to Jodie (not once but several times)floorboards are cheaper than welding, and so we persisted - and I'm glad we did. The water had crept further than I would ever have thought, and now I have to do the same thing again with the next section....let it dry, scrape it clean and grease it. The next section after that will probably have to be done too, which will be more difficult as there are cupboards built in over the floor, and I can't take all of them out. I will take up another middle board, and hope for the best...floorboards are cheaper than welding...floorboards are.....

The next section I've removed

A close up of the yukky bottom still to be dried and cleaned

And this is what it looks like after it's been dried and scraped free of rust

The other sad news is that the Hennie H was as rotten as we feared it would be and all the inspector could do was sympathise. Everything Koos took off has to be replaced with thicker steel. Still, he seems to be reasonably upbeat about things, as according to his calculations, we should still be able to manage the repairs. The downside is that we cannot do this ourselves, and professional welders costs a lot of money. The negotiations begin tomorrow morning!

Saturday, May 22, 2010

Turning tides and all that

This week has been an eventful one in our harbour. The tide has turned for me in a very positive way, but more of that later. The turning tide was not so favourable to one of our dearest friends. In fact talk up about ups and downs! The photo above might seem a bit obscure when you first look at it. Look closer and you will probably see what looks like a mast sticking out of the water. Well, this is what I saw when I arrived back from Zeeland last Monday. There was something not quite right about the picture, I'm sure you'll agree. Masts are usually fixed on top of boats which, in theory, should be floating on the water not sitting under it.

To cut a long story short (ok ok, I know I can go on a bit), the mooring ropes on our friend's tugboat got stuck when the tide was out, so when it came back in, the boat did not go up with it, but tipped over to one side and the water (naturally)flowed in. The tugboat (even more naturally) stayed put on the bottom - hence this strange sight that met my eyes. It has now been recovered but not without quite some damage, and that's the saddest part. It had just been largely restored.

On an up note, a new era has arrived for me with my Vereeniging, because the engine has finally been electrified (I keep writing electriFED, which I quite like as an alternative, but suppose I should get it right sometime). The old Samofa now has a starter motor fitted by the wonderful Bas, our superb harbour electrical engineer. It's so exciting for me to know I can finally get going on my own. Now I just have to find the courage to actually go somewhere on my own - even if it's just back to my old mooring in the Oude Haven!

Lastly, the tide is increasingly turning for the Hennie Ha. Koos is still making grand progress with stripping its bottom (now now, you lot!). He hopes to be finished by next Thursday. Then the real acid test will come, because this is when the insurance inspector has been booked. Hold fingers, toes and thumbs everyone. We are praying the repairs needed won't be too costly.

All in all, then, we are going with the flow and running with the tide. Hopefully any further turning it does will be in our favour!

Thursday, May 20, 2010


Any guesses as to what these numbers mean to me in 2010?

The photo below is of my daughters and their respective husbands and myself of course at a lovely Italian restaurant they took me to last night to celebrate my birthday.

It was really Italian and the waiters were all totally charming. So sad Koos wasn't with us though. He was bravely soldiering on in Zelzate with the Hennie H.

The last picture is one I've been meaning to publish for some time. It is a beautiful collage that Stefan, a.k.a Bookworm, sent me for Christmas. Knowing how much I love Coldplay, he printed his photos from their concert and made this for me. I was so touched then and to make things even more special, he sent me a card for my birthday with another photo on it from the same concert. What a very dear soul he is....thank you, Stefan!

Saturday, May 15, 2010

Koos's progress

Two days and two posts...what's happening? Well, summer is coming and that's when we get busy with the boats. Added to that, my work gets back to more reasonable levels, and I actually have time to think about things other than lesson plans and student assessments. I'm still going to be quite busy but nothing like as hectic as it has been up to now.

Anyhow, the ongoing story of the Hennie haha (our shared project)is always lurking, and while I was in Rotterdam teaching last week, Koos was in Zelzate grinding away at the doubling plates that have to come off the Hennie Ha for its insurance inspection.

To cut a long story short, the previous owner replaced the bottom with good 6mm steel, but only doubled the curvy bits along the sides. This he did with 3mm steel. Big mistake. The insurance company requires a minimum thickness of 3mm and their testing machines will only measure the outer layer. With a few years of degradation, then the thickness measured was less than the necessary 3mm, so they told us all this doubling had to come off so they could measure the real thickness off the original hull.

We are holding fingers, toes and thumbs that the old iron hull will measure up. Meanwhile, Koos's labours can be seen in the pics here. He has been grinding for all he is worth, and has done a great job of stripping the dreaded doubling away. It will be several days before he has finished this stage, but I think he's doing really well. It's very hard work and needs lots of stamina and patience, so hats off Koosje. You're the hero of the week!

Friday, May 14, 2010

The Vereeniging's new face

A couple of weeks ago, Mo and Craig moved off the Vereeniging and onto their own ship the Marion Aagje. The wonderful part of that is that I get the Vereeniging back again, and also have the chance to give it a new look before moving back on board.

This last week, I've been gathering tools and material ready for the big smoosh up, but yesterday, I hit the first glitch. Unfortunately, the water pump had sprung a leak and because it is hidden behind a wall, no one noticed it. The water seeped inexorably under the insulation beneath the carpet, through the floorboards and below to the bottom.

Yesterday, while I was sanding the floor, getting it ready to be painted, I found the results. Sadly, a couple of the floorboards have rotted, so today was spent firstly buying some new wood to replace them and secondly, extracting a very soggy board and some even soggier insulation that was underneath it. Now, I shall leave it all to dry out before replacing the two boards that are affected. Luckily the weather is warming up so I'm hoping it won't take too long.

The photos below are ones Koos took just before we took up the rotten wood (strange to see it so empty), but you can see the patch I have been prodding at!

Here is a photo of what it looked like before I handed over to Mo and Craig.

Watch out for Stage 2 next week.....if I get the time, that is. Somehow, I don't think I'm going to be rushing this job. It's great not to have to live in the mess while I'm doing it!

Sunday, May 09, 2010

Photos of Helsinki

Today has been satisfying in many ways. I gave my little Vespa its first spin of the year, which is always good for the soul. Then I managed to do a good bit of gardening and weed clearance, during which I found a baby Lilac tree with one beautiful bell of rich purple flowers. After that, I took myself off for a run, which always feels great after the event, even if I sweat and struggle my way round my own Westdorpe circuit. Lastly, I've managed to upload some of my Helsinki photos to Picasa, so here is the link. I still have the ones of the lovely walk Maria and I made around Suomenlinna island to show you, but that's for next time. Now I have to finish the lesson planning I started this morning....

Saturday, May 08, 2010

Strange happening with Blogger

last night I posted a new short piece on my writing blog, but now I notice it is dates 30 April, a week out of date. Very strange. some glitch on the server maybe, or something I've done (more likely). Anyhow for those who like to read it, there's another short offering. It proceeds slowly! Hopefully, the summer will give me more time to write more!

Wednesday, May 05, 2010

Vaasa in glorious colour

Well, here is the link to my pics of Vaasa. The photos of Helsinki will follow when I've managed to persuade our very slow server to upload them.

I really liked Vaasa a lot. It reminded me of Bloemfontein in South Africa with its wide, clean tree-lined streets and fine neo classical buildings playing neighbour to the lovely old traditional wooden structures. The only thing that marred it was the rather numerous sixties apartment blocks, but then they're everywhere aren't they?

Monday, May 03, 2010

I'm Finished!

These are just a few of the photos I took when I was with Hans and Ingela in Vaasa. I have loads more and will put them on a Picasa slideshow when I get home, but these few all say something about what struck me during my visit.

The windmill..well, I suppose that's obvious. It's just so cute, and the fascinating thing about this type of mill is that the whole thing turns to face the wind direction, not just the top part. Given my personal provenance, I just had to take a pic for comparison purposes, but the cuteness factor came very high on the list too.

The boat and boathouse...well no prizes there for guessing why I needed pics of those, but Hans and Ingela in front of their own boathouse..well, that's special. It's all so charming, and so safe, they do lock it, but the key is left in full view of anyone with eyes to see!

Then there is the water tower behind the other little wooden house (by the way, the whole village has wooden houses this colour and even the church is the about colour coordinated!). The water tower, though, is for Koos, as is the final picture of Hans and Ingela's wonderful wood burning stove. It is really amazing. The house is warm, but you hardly notice where the heat is coming from.

I'll post more about my trip soon, but when I get back to Rotterdam. For now, I am, as I said, Fin-ished...and I'm off t sleep my last night in Finland..Nighty night all! xx

Saturday, May 01, 2010

While I was at the station

I sneaked these pics with my phone while I was waiting for my train to Vaasa today. The white hats were still everywhere I went so it seems to be a mayday thing as well as a Vappu thing. The trip to Vaasa was long (four and a half hours), but I got to see some of Finland while I was at it. There are lots of lakes, lots of trees and scores of gorgeous wooden houses, all painted different colours. Love them!

Hans and Ingela were at the station to meet me, and have been so incredibly kind. They took me home and gave me a lovely meal and I met both their sons who are refreshingly open and uninhibited. Really nice boys, both of them. We sat and talked about everything and anything and I heard about their nightmare trip home from the UK, courtesy of the volcanic ash. Talk about intrepid! Now I am back at the hotel, a curious place where you check in with a door code, and everything is arranged remotely so you don't see any real people at all except other guests. Amazing. Still, it's all comfortable and once again, I have internet on tap. Tomorrow, Hans and Ingela are taking me on a tour, so I know it'll be another great day. Watch this space!