Monday, March 28, 2022

A picture's worth a thousand words...well, a blog post at least

Last Wednesday, I abdicated my responsibilities, abandoned work and suggested to Koos that we should go for our first proper spuddle (short trip) of the year on the Hennie H. He didn't take much persuading; neither did my neighbourly offspring, who had a day off anyway.

The first trip out of the harbour is always cause for a sense of celebration and with the weather being utterly gorgeous, the festive mood was upon us. Never mind that I forgot the picnic sandwiches and the kettle, which got left behind in the car. We managed and so did offspring's dog, Luna, for whom it was the first time ever on a moving boat. Bless her, she did very well with nary a tremble in sight.

I'll let the photos tell the rest of the story, but suffice to say, we all thoroughly enjoyed it and are looking forward to more, and longer faring, in the coming months. It's time the Shoe stepped out's been far too long.

Leaving the harbour

Dogged determination not to look at the camera
Sorry :)

A passing commercial...

that then decides to turn round mid-channel and reverse into 
a harbour

Another manoeuvring barge

The nearby crane depot (Mammoet for
those in the know)

Into an inner harbour which leads to a quiet tree-lined canal

They don't come small around these parts (same harbour)

At the end of the canal, a quiet spot for a coffee break

The Shoe takes her rest

Looking back the way we came

Hopefully happy families

After our coffee break, offspring and grandpup de-camped to walk home. It had taken us an hour and some to fare eight kilometres. Cutting off the triangle, it was a 5km walk home for her and Luna, easy for these intrepid hikers. As for Koos and I, it took us another hour and some to fare back again, and I'm pleased to say I steered for most of the way, so it was a good refresher for me too. 

When we arrived at our mooring, we agreed we were very happy we'd gone; the HH had flexed her faring fins and we'd had a perfect afternoon. Mind you, we've had lovely weather for several days now, but Wednesday was the highlight in my book.

Have a good week allemaal. I'll be back with something different next time.


Monday, March 21, 2022

Dusting ourselves off

My apologies to all who thought I'd be posting about our first spuddle of the year this weekend. Alas, it was not to be. Much to our disappointment, the weather has done an about turn, a kaapse draai of note, and we've rapidly resorted to winter woollies and thick coats instead of the 'jerseys are enough' joy of the last couple of days. In fact, my daughter told me it was even snowing this morning where she lives. Snowing! 

Okay, it is still only March, and we all know this fickle month can decide to throw a weatherly tantrum at any moment. Mad as a March hare? I would suggest mad as March full stop. After all, that's what it is—a mad month. But I digress. The title of this blog is 'dusting ourselves off' for very good reason, and that is because in contrast to the rainy (snowy) chill of today, we had a visit from the Sahara during the week.

I think almost everyone in Europe has experienced this phenomenon, so I know it will be little surprise to local readers, but it really was quite a shock to wake up on Wednesday and find everything covered in fine yellow dust, pock-marked with small lumps of sand. It happened overnight when it rained as well, so it was already sticky and hard to remove before we'd even started. As I write, I still haven't managed to wash everything down, but Thursday was spent on the Vereeniging, which had turned a dull shade of brown. And then yesterday I attacked the Hennie H, whose pale shade of beige wasn't quite so unsightly, but hardly its normal, pristine white. Luckily for me, the sun shone brightly upon my efforts, and I quite enjoyed playing Mrs Mop to our old ladies, although I fear there's another fine layer of dust on both barges today. Never mind. There are worse problems in life, and they both looked spruce and shiny for a while. See the evidence below.

The sun shone brightly on my efforts above and below

And for no other reason than I like sitting by the water and watching the commercial barges and ships pass by, here's  photo of a sea-going vessel heading towards Gent.

And this was the wash it made as it passed. It was actually more impressive than it looks in the photo but it made a nice swooshing sound as it sploshed onto the rocks near my feet.

 So that's it for now, allemaal. My other activities are all work and writing related, interspersed with flurries of maintenance. As for the rot of ages from my previous post, a temporary fix is in place until I learn to weld. I'm working on that!

Enjoy your week and the spring weather when it returns.

Monday, March 14, 2022

The rot of ages

What a beautiful few days we've finally had in the flatlands (see photo below if you're not convinced of the flatness)

It was really quite glorious, so first things first, we took the opportunity to nip across the harbour and fill up with water. Bliss. We can now stop being quite so stingy with our ablutions and flushes. Actually, we've been using buckets from the canal for the loo for the last few weeks in order to save drinking water, such was our diminishing supply. I know. It's silly really as it's no real pain to fill up, but it takes a while and when it's cold and windy, we're not inspired, I must say.

Job done, I decided to go for a walk along the arm of the river to its junction with the Dintel and then back along the other side.  It really was quite lovely in the spring air. As usual, I forgot my camera and had to make do with my feeble phone. But never mind. When the light is good, even my meagre megapixels can't go too far wrong.

Here's the route I took.

I started where it says Vintage Brabant, walked north to the junction at Schans, crossed the bridge and walked back to the southern end and then north again to our mooring. The photos below are just a few snaps I took along the way.

Looking north at the junction. There's a small shipyard to
the right. The crane is a boat lift

Looking east to the Mark section of the river

The Dintel

The junction through the trees

Back along the Mark arm to the harbour

Mummy and baby Highland coos

And again. I've been watching baby coo grow and he's 
becoming a splendid little chap

The final stretch before Oudenbosch begins

Pretty, isn't it? Anyway, my walk over, it was time to get to work on a problem that's been plaguing me for years, yes, years. In fact, this is the problem that's behind the title of this post. It's hard to explain without showing you, and the photos I've taken have such bad light, it's almost impossible to see my rot of ages, but I'll have a go.

A couple of years back, some of you might remember I posted about the leak from my back window on the port side of the barge; a leak that had been going on for ages behind the woodwork, which resulted in my ripping the entire back wall off to expose the mess. Well, I managed to stop that one, only to have the same thing happen on the starboard side. I kept thinking I'd cured it and then it would start again. Unfortunately, what I didn't realise was that a real cure would be impossible without major reconstruction work. 

The problem stemmed from a faulty construction when the window frame was put in meaning that water could accumulate in a gulley I couldn't see below the window frame. Quietly, over the years, the gully rusted away with me being none the wiser. I have now exposed it all and it's a real mess, but at least I can see what the damage is even if I don't yet know how to fix it.

The picture below does perhaps show the gap and the hole that developed behind a steel strip that was only spot welded in place. This gap, made by progressive deterioration, is where the water has been coming in. Given that the strip was only spot welded, it's no surprise that it kept leaking. 

The next question is whether I can learn to weld. Or, should I use some mega-strong two-component epoxy to close it and then weld another strip over it? I do want to learn to weld, but I don't know if I can do so quickly enough to fix this before the rain starts getting in again. Decisions decisions. 

The rot of ages. See the gap and the hole underneath it
See also the steel strip on the left that has been cut.
The rot was hiding behind it.

A close-up of the gap and the hole.

So that's my news from the Vereeniging this week, allemaal. A fascinating life, isn't it? Rusting rivets rule. Anyway, I'll keep you posted on developments. I bet you can't wait now, can you? 😁

Sunday, March 06, 2022

On a cold and frosty morning

Pretty as a picture: our neighbour's tugboat, Johanna, just to
give you something beautiful to look a

Here in the Dutch winter, it's one thing or the other. We either endure grey, wet weather with mild temperatures, or it's bright and sunny but bitterly cold. One thing that never goes away, though, is the wind. The flat landscape in this country provides no resistance to the gales that sweep across it and for those of us who live here, there is nowhere to shelter: no valley to nestle into, no hill to tuck behind and no ridge to protect us. The dykes are often lined with trees that are supposed to act as windbreaks, but they don't really help that much. So even now that it's beautifully bright with hard frosts overnight, the wind keeps blowing, and boy, is it icy!

Yesterday morning, I woke up on board wondering why my nose and cheeks felt so exceptionally cold. I always turn the oil stove off at night, but normally the residual warmth keeps the inside temperature from dropping too far, and I usually sleep happily until around 7.30 in the morning. However, when I crept out of bed to escape an attack of cramp in my feet, I discovered it was only 6 o'clock. 

I don't do early, especially not 6 o'clock early, but this time I knew the cramp was because I was freezing.

Now, I have a nifty digital device that gives me not only the time, but also the temperature and humidity on board. When I shuffled over to peer at it, my eyes widened in horror. No wonder I was so cold. The temperature in the boat was only 5c, and I'll swear there was an even lower windchill factor because an icy draught was whistling round my ankles. It finally dawned on me we must have had an unexpectedly cold night. 

Not quite ready to take a look at the outside world, I lit the stove and scurried back to bed, hoping it would warm up enough for me to make a cup of coffee and drink it in comfort. But it wasn't to be and in fact, it took more than two hours for it to reach 8 degrees. Hardly cosy and definitely not what we would call room temperature.

By that time I'd given up and I got myself dressed before wrapping my hands around my mug of coffee in an attempt to get warm. When I did finally stick my head out of the hatch, the morning sun had melted most of the ice on deck and on the roof, but you can see from the photo below, there was still plenty left. 

What I should add is that the icy part of the deck is right over my bed and although I have thick insulation on the inside, it's still the coldest spot on board. Not much encouragement to stay under the covers, I can assure you.

All the same, it was a beautiful morning as the blue skies and early sunshine will testify. What is not visible, of course, is the wind, which soon had me ducking back inside to escape its knife-like cut.

On the upside, the previous afternoon had been lovely and I spent a few happy hours scrubbing the Vereeniging clean and doing my best to de-green the nooks and crannies around the rubbing rail and edges. Unfortunately, I didn't manage to get rid of all of it, but next time, I'll attack it with some vinegar and that should do the trick. Still, she's looking better on the whole and I enjoyed giving her a good wash down. It's one of the few cleaning jobs I find therapeutic rather than a tedious chore.

 Today, it's been bright, sunny and even colder in the wind. I'm back at the crumbly cottage where Koos and I had planned to start scraping down window frames ready for re-painting, but the frigid air put paid to our good intentions and we did other jobs instead. The garden fence, being in the full sun, got sanded and oiled instead. 

Ah well, it's only March and I still have no spring flowers in the garden yet, although I did see my first bumble bee—a good sign that warmer days will come.

Have a good week allemaal