Wednesday, October 20, 2021

From Moerdijk to Oudenbosch with Leaky Lou

It's already nearly a week since I posted about the start of our journey to Oudenbosch. In the meantime, we've spent several enjoyable days at our mooring, but of course I need to get all of you there before I start on what it's like in our new environs.

You may be wondering at the title, though. What and who is Leaky Lou? Well, having sung the Samofa's praises in my last blog post (fully justified, I might add), I didn't mention the engine's own special technique of 'self-lubricating'. In other words, it likes to distribute oil to parts that I'm sure aren't mentioned in the manual – and in a somewhat undisciplined fashion. Before we'd travelled many kilometres, there were traces of oil sneaking out from practically every possible joint. Not in any quantity, I should add, but enough to make a mess of my bilges and nice, clean engine room floor. So, it wasn't long before I nicknamed the Samofa 'Leaky Lou' and 'it' became a 'she' in her own right. She continued to ooze quietly throughout the trip, but since I didn't even need to add more than half a litre of precious 30 grade motor oil throughout the whole three days, we didn't find it too alarming. It's something that will need attention, though.

Anyway, getting back to the journey, Saturday morning in Moerdijk dawned misty again, but not with the heavy fog we'd had the previous day. It was much lighter and by nine o'clock the sky was a hazy, pearly hue that was clear enough for us to get going. 

Once again, my stomach was doing summersaults of the high vaulting variety. I knew the next part of our journey would take us along the Hollandsch Diep for some thirteen kilometres before we reached our turn off at Drimmelen. They were kilometres of finger-crossing, nail-biting and teeth-clenching for me, even more so than the previous day. After all, to pass under the great Moerdijk Bridge, we had to move towards the middle of the estuary to comply with the rules of passage. Gulp factor ten in my ratings, while my 'what if' gauge went off the scale completely.


Heading for the Moerdijk Bridge

Oh my word...it's like the sea!

Moving into the Maas, Koos in full skipper mode

But we did it and Leaky Lou kept up the steady, regular beat for this two-hour stretch, a rhythm for which she's become well known. What we didn't know was that my daughter had been following our progress and took photos us as we passed the quay at Drimmelen, just before we slipped into the blissful safety of the Wilhelmina canal to Oosterhout. She then caught up with us on the towpath of the canal; it made my day to see her waving to us from the dyke, accompanied by my grandpup, Charlie.


Her photos of the Vereeniging on the water are really lovely, so I hope she doesn't mind my sharing a couple here.





After all that excitement, we settled down to a peaceful cruise along this fine stretch of commercial waterway. I have to say it felt very much like the Belgian canals: wide, tree-lined and interspersed with industry. It was great to see the barges at the loading quays being fed by the brightly painted cranes. This kind of canal is my favourite because there's both beauty and business, the latter providing life of the most interesting kind for a dockyard girl like me.






Eventually, we reached a junction where we turned to the right to enter the massive lock that would take us into the Mark Canal. The lock is what protects the farmlands of Brabant from flooding or being inundated by tidal waters at this end of the province. Just as a reminder, here's the map of our approximate route. The red circle shows where the junction is.



I was surprised to find we were the only occupants on our short (ca 50cm) descent to the polders. To be honest, I have no idea whether we arrived at high water on the river or not; our experience on the first day confused us completely. Add to that, the Hollandsch Diep, which becomes the Haringvliet further west is controlled to some extent by a dam wall whose 17 sluices are only partially closed, except in emergencies. As a result, the tide could be said to be hindered but not completely stopped. If you're interested in learning about it, here's a link. It's in Dutch but if you use Google Chrome, it offers you the chance to translate the page. Oh and here's a photo of the lock.


Following a short coffee and rest break past the lock, we continued on the lovely tree-lined Mark canal, a ten-kilometre stretch where there really is nothing but trees on each side. Koos handed over the steering to me and settled down beside me for a snooze. No photos were taken as a result and even when we turned right into the Mark river towards Oudenbosch, my other half continued to nap, much to the amusement of passing Sunday boaters. 

As for me, steering was a matter of a nudge here or there. The Vereeniging is so stable, unlike our dancing queen, Hennie H, I hardly had to do anything as we chugged along at a peaceful 6km/h. This was heaven. The sun was warm, the landscape calm and restful on the eyes. I found myself fully relaxed for the first time in weeks.

When Koos awoke, it was clear he was still tired, so we decided not to push on to Oudenbosch. We still had more than 25 kms to go and we risked arriving at sunset, unable to see properly to moor up.  Ships that go bump in the night we are not, so after a few minutes, we found a riverside mooring just made for us: two wooden poles connected by a horizontal bar. There was no access to land (normally a sticking point with me), but this time it was fine. I wanted to do some cleaning up so we'd arrive looking good. You know what they say about first impressions—they're the ones that last!

It was a great decision as the mooring proved to be quite magical. We were separated from the bank by thick reeds that were populated by families of ducks and coots. The view over the other bank was equally rural and the only disturbance was from passing boaters and numerous rowers. In the distance we could see the outskirts of a village, but there was no towpath on our side, so no one could reach us. The tranquillity was almost tangible, the sun felt deliciously warm and the light had that golden cast that evokes dreamy nostalgia.



After doing our best to wash the old lady down, we settled down for an evening's reading, strangely aware of the silence outside. Indoors, my Vereeniging looked as she always does, but our ears have long been accustomed to the city sounds and the noise from revellers on the terraces in Rotterdam. The absence of traffic, people and sirens seemed almost surreal. There was just nothing to hear at all. Sleep was deep that night.

Sunday morning brought another surprise. After the clear skies of the previous evening, we awoke to find thick fog over the river again. 

"Never mind," I said. "Now we're here, even if we leave at eleven o'clock, we'll still be in Oudenbosch by three." Koos agreed.

And so we waited, meanwhile watching rowers practising their skills as they emerged from and disappeared into the mist. I must say I did wonder how they could see where they were going. I envisaged collisions at worst and close encounters with the reeds at best, but they all returned intact without anyone sporting leafy crowns or bleeding noses.

Eventually, the fog lifted enough for us to see a couple of hundred metres, so we set off at 11.30 and proceeded along the Mark. I was pleased to see that this too was an active, living waterway with commercial quays and factories that ensure its importance in the area. I do love a combination of rural and functional scenery and am not a great fan of endless unadulterated beauty. This river had commercial barges as well as pleasure craft and I fell in love with it immediately. 











I should mention that Leaky Lou did give us one minor alarm. When I was doing one of my usual 'obsessing' checks, I noticed water dripping down the side of the engine. Puzzled I traced it up to the hose leading to the expansion vessel (the same thing you would have on a boiler; it gives hot water a place to escape to). A quick look was all it needed to tell me the jubilee clip holding the hose had come loose and slid off. Thinking it was just a matter of loosening the clip further to push it back on, I tried but only succeeded in moving the hose as well, which made it leak more. 

"Koos," I called after sticking my head out of the engine room hatch. "Help!"

On hearing my cry, he steered the barge into the reeds and came down to help. With two of us, it was easy, and the hose was soon secured more convincingly. And, I'm pleased to say that was the only problem we had throughout the entire trip. Leaky Lou performed beautifully despite her tendency to weep oil and we were delighted she'd come through for us.

Soon after two o'clock, we'd reached the turning to Oudenbosch. For anyone who's interested, the town is where the river Mark ends. Beyond our turning, the river becomes the Dintel and continues all the way to Dintelmond. It opens out into the Volkerak, a large body of water separated from the Hollandsch Diep by huge, commercial locks that protect this side of Brabant from flooding.

Once we'd steered into the narrow arm leading to our mooring, we slowed down to a snail's pace. A message I'd sent to my daughters earlier needed to be revised. Even going at a crawl, we'd still be there before three and Jodie, my eldest, was coming from the Hague. She knew we'd be early, but we still wanted to give her the chance to reach us on time. As it happened, this short stretch was the delight of the day, and the film Koos made of our final stage says far more than any words I can produce, so here it is. Listen and watch. I think you'll be as charmed as I was.


At 2.45 we'd arrived. We pulled into our designated spot and I'd just got a rope through the first mooring ring when a car roared up the dyke, stopped, and my daughter hopped out ready to take photos of us tying up.  Spot the moving Val.






And so that was it. The end of our adventure and a new home for my Vereeniging. Isn't it lovely? I'll admit to mixed feelings as I was both happy and sad to arrive. We'd had such an emotional three days and so much new experience it was almost a shame it was already over. That said, the relief was huge and the reward was in having both daughters there to greet us. It wasn't long after our arrival that Mo and her boyfriend also rolled up on their little motor bike, so the family was complete. A happy conclusion to a fabulous journey.

Thank you so much for following our trip allemaal, and I'll fill you in with our early impressions of our new home next time.  We'll miss our Oude Haven friends and community, but we're both looking forward to all the new opportunities for faring in future. This, I feel, is the beginning of a new era!



16 comments:

  1. What a wonderful journey, the scenery is glorious. Well done Koos, your arrival video is wonderful, I loved the cow and her calf lazily watching you.
    I hope you will both be wonderously happy in your new home. The fact that both your girls were there was the fitting end to your fabulous journey.
    Thank you for the amazing journey, my friend, I enjoyed it immensely.
    Love and hugs as always to you and Koos, xxx 💖🤗❤️

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    1. Thank you too, Linda, my dear. What a lovely comment! I’m soooo pleased you enjoyed the journey with us. I now have to go back and read all the kind comments you’ve made on my earlier posts. I see you’ve been busy reading! Thank you again. It always makes me smile when I see your name pop up!

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  2. Thank Koos very much for the video. I love listening to those old diesels clattering away.
    Oh and the barge looks great with it’s new paint in its new home!

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    1. I have indeed told Koos. He was very happy you liked it because it was really the sound that counted. I love the fact I can see my old girl now too. I hope you are safely ensconced back in sunny California and I’ll keep looking out for your news. Have a good winter!

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  3. Beautifully told. I love faring with you guys. Hope you are very happy at your new mooring!

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    1. Thank you! I’m really glad you enjoyed the journey too!

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  4. Oh, that was indeed charming and lovely to watch, Val. What a great adventure - even I was worried when I saw you out in the middle of the 'ocean' - scary! Much safer and gentler along the canals. Your daughters are so sweet, arranging to meet and greet you on arrival. I hope you enjoy your new home and community for many years to come.

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    1. Oh I'm so glad you enjoyed the journey, Patricia. It went from super scary to supremely serene, and that was lovely. My daughters' arrival was the icing on the cake, indeed. I'm looking forward to some lovely wanderings in the environs in the coming months, I must say!

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  5. What an awesome daughter you have to follow your progress and take those great photos! Hope you will enjoy this new adventure just as much as you came to love the last one. So happy for y'all! (Steph)

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    1. Thank you so much, Steph. I’m sure we will be exploring as soon as the weather permits. It is, of course, dismal now, so I am more than pleased we did the trip when the weather was fine!

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  6. What a contrast with your previous mooring! It looks beautiful, and I wish you both a lot of happiness there.

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    1. Thank you, Roger. It is a lovely spot indeed and we're enjoying exploring the environs already!

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  7. I so enjoyed all of this, Val. The videos are great. Wishing you much happiness in another exciting chapter of your life. It looks wonderful there xx

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    1. Oh thank you, Brenda! How lovely to see your comment here. I'm so pleased you enjoyed the journey with us :)

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  8. Hello, grreting from Hong Kong! Thank you for sharing the travel blog, touched the beautiful sentence you experienced n see there, cozy space.... Pls be friend with me through Blogger site, I joined yesterday. I cannot wait for your next posting! Have a good day!

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    1. Hello, thanks for commenting on my blog! I'm glad you enjoyed it and I'll come and visit yours soon!

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