Monday, June 06, 2016

Preparing to fare it well

It was back in 2008, eight years ago, that Koos and I bought a small traditional Dutch Barge, a Groninger Snik to be precise, from a family in Groningen.

Just before we lost the bowsprit

I remember the purchase of the little Hennie H as if it was yesterday. Koos drove up to Groningen on 18 May and by the end of the month we were the owners of this very pretty little barge. At this stage I had only seen photos, but exactly a month later, on 18 June, Koos and I drove up together again, our mission being to do the return trip to Rotterdam on the boat.

Leaving Groningen

It was a lovely journey. We set off from a tiny backwater canal in Groningen the following damp, misty morning, heading towards the main arterial canals that surround this historic Dutch city. Not even the demise of our small bowsprit at the first lock dampened our spirits. A misjudgement of the wind and an unfamiliar boat had Koos crashing headlong into the lock wall, and the consequent crunch splintered it. Beyond repair. But we didn't like it anyway, we had no sails and so we laughed it off.

Archetypal Dutch scenery

We spent three days travelling down through Groningen and Drenthe; three days of magical scenery, kindly lockkeepers and mostly friendly boaters along the way. I say mostly because one German boater started barking at us as loudly as Sindy in one of the locks. Apparently, he didn't like the way we did things and he didn't like our dog either.

At our second night's mooring. Sindy on land and
happy to be on terra firma

Sindy on board and very unhappy
That aside, we had a wonderful trip as far as Zwartsluis where I left Koos to return to Groningen and fetch our car. He continued on for another two days along the Vecht, through Utrecht, finally reaching Rotterdam on 26 June.

Arriving in Rotterdam

Learning things we wish we'd known before

The Hennie H then spent a few months in the Oude Haven, during which time we learnt a lot of things about it that we would rather have known before we bought it (another story) and doing extensive repairs and painting. It was eventually in September of that year that we sailed it down to Sas van Gent and since then, it hasn't really moved anywhere except up the canal and back between Terneuzen and Zelzate, the reason being too many problems and too many months out of action at the yards.

Being towed by The Wandering Snail from Zelzate during
'the troubles'
But this year, we aim to change all that. I won't say anymore now in case I jinx it, but watch this space. Or maybe not. The thing is, I might be absent for a while. If so, be happy for me because if so, I will be faring well.