May – a month in just about one spot.

 

 

It took almost a month to finally get our steering problems worked out and solved.  There were a number of occasions when we and the wonderful guys from Ship Support felt the problem was nailed.  We’d head off down the canal a few kilometres only to have the whole system fail again.  Finally we decided to have the computer-based Follow-Up system pulled out, fit a manual steering system and wheel as a back-up,  and install a new joystick systemIt's not been cheap and will take a bit of getting used to, but then we are assured, we will have a very reliable system.

 

 

There are though, a lot of worse places to have to spend time than on the waterways around Nieuwpoort and we were determined to make the best of the enforced hiatus in our journeying.  Some of the highlights of this time would have to be seeing John Mayall in concert in the tiny town of Leffinge, our day trip on the train to Brugge and on another, a bus trip back down to Veurne to stock up on a few pieces of hardware from a marvelous store there, and to visit our friends at the “Pink Pub”.

 

 

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John Mayall and Rocky from Texas - not all that much a lesser guitarist than “Mr Clapton”!

Meanwhile during daylight hours just next door the local farmers were hard at it

 

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Brugge on a beautiful, busy Sunday afternoon

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Vintage Dutch sailing barges- called Tjalks pass one morning at Gravensluis – these were a couple of the smaller ones!

 

Friday June 5, we are off to Lille in north-western France over the next week or so.

Distance:  154ks

Locks: not many, but lots of swing and lift bridges. 

 

 

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Waiting for a lift bridge to open

Moored up at Oodenberg

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Our first “proper” commercial barge approaches – like an iceberg, most of it is below waterline.

“Admiral” going under the unique footbridge at Jabbeke.  The pub here is great too.

 

Few cities could be more magnificent than Brugge.  Arriving via its canals was an unforgettable entry as we curved around it and then down and into the yacht haven where we knew we could easily get off on a wheelchair as long as we were able to moor up on the correct side – the right going in.  Sure enough we were and had a couple of great days exploring, though Mondays we learnt, are not the ideal days for visits as many of the museums are closed. 

 

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Endellion moored up at Coupure Yacht Haven in the middle of Brugge

And this windmill actually still works, grinding wheat for flour

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The detail on many of the old buildings is superb

Brugge’s hay-days 500 yrs ago were thanks to canal ties with the sea and trade with England.

 

After Brugge, the canals really got down to the business of commercial barging.  The fist huge barge we saw was a bit of a shock, but after ten or twenty had passed (they are usually pushing on faster than us once they get going) and we had shared a couple of vast locks with them we started to relax a little.  We subsequently heard we were travelling one of the busiest commercial waterways we would ever confront.

 

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Leaving Coupure under another intriguing bridge, which winds the supporting wires around a huge rolling tube to lift and drop the walkway

More signs to translate

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Heavy traffic, but all nice, courteous skippers, many with their wives as crew

The Blue Board means “I’m passing starboard to starboard" (against the standard rule)

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On this occasion, we had this mighty lock all to ourselves – a couple of 100m long at least!

Endellion hemmed in by those tjalks, now at Kortrijk Yacht Haven

 

Further on down the Deule we started to see signs proclaiming Fetes and realised we were moving along this area of the waterways at the height of spring festival time.

 

 

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