Monday, July 25, 2022

Ticking boxes

 Well, Koos has done it and we've finally got to the point when we can plan to leave for our somewhat delayed 'faring' holiday. But now procrastination has entered into the game of seeing how long we can postpone our departure. It sometimes feels as if we've got so used to having problems, we can't quite believe we can go and I, for one, am hesitating to name the day. That said, we have started ticking boxes and crossing items off our checklist.

The only trouble is, the list keeps growing. Every time I tick something off, we think of another essential item that we might or might not have. Is this procrastination? Possibly, but my excuse is it's just sense.

What, you may well ask, has led us to this point after so many months of disappointment? Well, the electric opvoerpomp supplied to us by the company we bought the engine from seems to be working well (hallelujah!!) and so we did a test run on the Hennie H yesterday, accompanied by two dear friends from Australia who serendipitously happened to arrive in Sas van Gent in the morning. I'm not sure they really took in the fact that we were testing the pump for the first time, and no one mentioned what might happen if it didn't work properly. To our good fortune (and my relief), it functioned perfectly, the Hennie H purred along and a good old catch up time was had by all.

The Hennie H at large at last

Today, I've been stocking up on essential travel sustenance: a crate of chocolate milk, another of ordinary milk (both indispensable for keeping the skipper properly fuelled), and large quantities of coffee and biscuits. Then there are the other goods that we can store in some bulk, like tinned vegetables, eggs, potatoes and onions. The perishable items will be bought as soon as Koos has received his doctor's all clear. When man has pacemaker, man must make pace to collect all his support items (in other words, he needs his meds).

So when will we actually cast off the ropes and sail into the sunset (which in our case is Gent)? Maybe Wednesday, maybe Thursday, but unless anything drastic happens, it will be this week. Wish us luck and fair faring allemaal. It looks as if we're really on the way!

Sunday, July 17, 2022

The Waiting Game

Some of you may have noticed I haven't been posting as much as usual. This, my dear blogging friends, is not because I'm losing interest in my blog. Far from it. No, the problem is more that while much has been happening in our lives, it is not the kind of thing I post here. I try and keep this place for news about our watery life and travels, and sadly, there hasn't yet been much of that to write (home) about recently.

But...things are now looking up. The dreaded opvoer pump has now been replaced by an electric 'fuel transfer pump', sent to us 'free and for gratis' by the company that sold us the engine. I think they were so fed up with us bleating at them because the original wouldn't run consistently, they are hoping this will be the salve to make us shut up.

Koos has mounted it and established it works. Now, we are emptying the diesel from the tank and plan to replace it with new, fresh, fiendishly expensive diesel tomorrow, so as not to risk any further fuel problems. Once again, we await developments.

Added to the waiting game we've been playing with the engine, it appears we might also have to wait for the water levels to rise a little too before heading into France. The weather has been dry and warm for so long, there are serious water shortages and many canals have been closed. As I heard it from a Facebook friend, the route we want to take has been alright up to now, so fingers crossed we'll make it to the Sambre again this year. We can only be grateful that this part of the world isn't having the terrible fires they are experiencing in Portugal, Spain and France as a result of the intense heat. Mind you, our forecast is for 36C tomorrow and 39C on Tuesday, so we're hardly cool here.

In any event, we are hoping to be off and away in a week or so. The waiting is almost over. Wish us luck!

Meanwhile, I am still attending to my old girl in Oudenbosch, where I spend some time every week. We are planning some away days with her in September, so I've been quietly smooshing up her decks in anticipation.

A second coat on the foredeck

Repainted aft cabin and engine room roofs

I've also taken a bit of time out for some fun rides on my 'Tommy' moped. My eldest daughter has one now as well, so last week, we went out for a ride around the dykes together, and a good time was had by all, mopeds included. 

Last, but not (I trust) least. I have a new book out. It's taken me five years to write and seven months to edit, so I'm more than a little relieved to have released this particular labour of love into the world. 

Have a great week allemaal, and I hope I'll be posting from the water next time. Wouldn't that be something?

Thursday, July 07, 2022

Little By Boat

Little By Boat
Has lost her ship
And doesn't know where to find her
Leave her alone and she will come home
bringing By Boat behind her

Okay, just a bit of nonsense there because this is mainly going to be a picture post. To explain, we finally got the Hennie H's engine running steadily, so last week we did a few test runs to build our confidence. However, because we didn't want to take any risks on the sea canal to Gent (the waterway on which the HH is moored), we took our little rowing boat (in Dutch bij boot, hence my bit of rhyming nonsense)) along for the ride.

Now you'd be right in thinking a tiny boat like the one in the photo below would not be capable of performing any great rescue missions, especially for a twenty-ton barge like the Hennie H, but we have an electric outboard motor for it and if push came to shove, it would be possible to pull the HH ever so gently out of harm's way with her. I know it seems unlikely, but I did mention pushing and shoving, didn't I?

Anyway, luckily, we didn't need its services, and the test runs went well. Unluckily, we have a recurrence of the same problem this week, and the Hennie H is refusing to start again. Ah well, we had some fun while it lasted! Back to the drawing board again.

Below are some photos of our last test run on Koos's birthday, the 30th of June. We did all of about eight kilometres!

The shipyard at Zelzate just over the Belgian border:
Our goal for the day

Sand barge

And just to finish off, a happy skipper

However, after suffering something of an understandable loss of motivation this week, Koos feels confident he can get the engine going again by the weekend. Keep everything crossed allemaal! Let's hope we can be faring once more very shortly!