Thursday, 26 June 2014

Monday 23rd June 2014 Garrelsweer to Onderdendam.

Liftbridge at Garrelsweer. Damsterdiep
11.9°C Grey clouds, rare glimpses of sunshine but dry. We set off early at 8.55am as we didn’t know if they were still doing convoys at specific times on the next canal as we didn’t buy a new Almanak. Round a couple of bends to the first liftbridge, a wooden footpath bridge, manually operated using the key to unlock a barrier and then unlock the windlass to wind the bridge. On round a couple more bends and we arrived at a nice modern swingbridge with a road, Munterdraai, in Winneweer. Just two buttons to press to work the bridge, but the barriers were manually operated. Mike did the far one for me. Two cars and a lady with two dogs were waiting by the time the barriers went back up. The next bridge was a road bridge
Vertical liftbridge Ten Post
with about 3.6m air clearance, there were lots of fast flying sand martins up and down through the bridge catching flies. We could see the white painted capmill in Ten Post in the distance across the fields. In no time we were there and I hopped off to work the vertical liftbridge, which was all automatic – just two buttons to work it and the barriers. This time there were five cars, two vans and a man on a bike waiting. A couple of kilometres through windswept fields and we went under another road bridge, just 2.7m high this time, and turned left on to the Westerwijtwerder-maar. Here we needed a mobile keeper and rang
a number on a notice board, Mike said the guy who answered didn’t speak English (which is fairly unusual). Under an even lower road bridge across the start of the next canal and we waited by the liftbridge and lock at Oosterdijkshornerverlaat. It was 10.35 am, he arrived in a waterways flatbed van about fifteen minutes later. He pressed the buttons in the cabin to wind up the bottom end guillotine gate on the lock and then wound the manually operated liftbridge. Mike shouted OK when he’d wound it high enough for us to get under (he’d already taken the flagstaff off). Into the sloping brick-sided lock and I slung the
Can you see the hares?
centre rope around one of the row of new square wooden stumps (just like the ones they installed on a lot of UK locksides). When he started the top end gate lifting the water level in the lock rose by about 7cms. While it was slowly working Mike took him a pot of baby amaryllises to say thank you. He told Mike, in Dutch, that he had several bridges to work for us and would see us later. Mike told him we would only be doing about 5 kph on the narrow shallow canal. Out of the lock past many ash trees, then wide open fields on either side that were higher than the canal, a navigable drainage channel. In the distance
Beehives in a colza field
there was a very tall red crane lifting girders, etc, to build a new barn alongside two others. Two hares were galloping wildly across one field until I picked up the camera (Mike was in the cabin showing his Mum some tourist leaflets that the keeper had given us) and then both of the hares lay down flat to hide in the grass – I think I got a picture of their ears. Some of the bends were very tight and all the bridges were low, the lowest around 2m. Oystercatchers went yodelling overhead and we watched a buzzard soaring. Terns occasionally dived into the canal searching for fish. We ducked under the N46 road bridge and on the far side was a huge field of colza with rows of beehives around the edges. A long straight section lead to a railway
Bowhauler. Onderdendam
bridge – managed to get a photo of an elderly two car diesel train crossing the bridge. The bridge was 3m high. Our keeper was by the bridge waiting for us, he set off to wind the next bridge, waving as he did so. The last but one bridge on the canal was an old style swingbridge operated by turning a handle in the middle of the deck, it was open as we approached it, timed to perfection. Under the last bridge in the village of Westerwijtwerd, then sharp left on to the Winsumerdiep. Our man with a van had the next bridge open for us (another swingbridge with a handle in the middle) and he wished us a good journey as that was his last bridge. The next liftbridge provided access only to some factories but was now permanently open. On to the junction with the Boterdiep (a dead end which terminates at Uithuizen) and we saw no sign of a waiting mooring by the next liftbridge, Fraamklap on the Winsumerdiep.
Moored at Onderdendam
Mike reversed into the Boterdiep where there was a tiny wooden landing for the bridge and I slung our centre rope round a wooden post. Mike went to look for phone numbers etc. He came back with the news that the bridge only opens three times a day at 9.40am 12.40am and 15.40pm. It was 1.15pm so we went indoors to wait. Tried looking for Wi-Fi, found none. The keeper turned up on time and let us through the Fraamklap and we carried on along the Winsumerdiep into Winsum and came to a stop again by the Zijlvesterbrug liftbridge where we tied up again to wait for the next opening time for that bridge – 18.05pm. Another long wait. When the keeper arrived and let us through we moved on to the end of the moorings in the town opposite the waterways maintenance yard and tied to the wooden stumps next to notices that said they were pay moorings (nobody came to collect any money). No choice, the next moorings were far too far away. Helped Mike unload the moped and he went off to recover the car from Garrelsweer. When Mike returned I helped get the bike back on board. He said the Dutch were cerebrating as they’d just won a World Cup match. A passing cyclist stopped to chat. He confirmed that the Dutch team had won and said one member of the Dutch football team was born less than 4kms from Onderdendam, he also told us that the land was sinking hereabouts due to the extraction of natural gas and they now regularly have earthquakes! Amazing!

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