Wednesday, 4 June 2014

Monday 2nd June 2014 Lingen to Roelagebrug NL. 52kms 9 locks

Two cruisers in Meppen lock DEK
7.8°C Sunny but chilly. Happy Birthday to me, 65 today. Mike was up early and set off at 6.15 am. I got up just before he started the engine. He said an 80m empty had gone past the basin making the water lively just before we turned on to the main canal. Another empty 80m (called Sven) went past heading uphill. We were in sight of the first of the last three locks on the DEK when two cruisers appeared behind us, rapidly catching us up. We dropped down 3.7m in Varloh lock with them and watched them speed off into the distance on the 5.6kms pound. Corrado from Gronigen NL (80mx9.5m 1352T) went past, loaded, heading upriver, so we thought the cruisers must have gone down Meppen after the commercial came up it. We
Who untied the bow line too soon??
resigned ourselves to a long wait for the next lock. Surprise, surprise, the cruisers were milling around above the lock when we got there, waiting for the green light. They went in and had to wait a few minutes until we got there. Mike noted that the rising top end gate was a guillotine and rose vertically. Just the three of us to drop down Meppen’s 7.5m deep chamber, very, very slowly. The cruiser in front of us loosed off his bow rope (cruisers often put bow and stern ropes around the same bollard) and he turned broadside in the lock while waiting for the guillotine gate to rise. 10.3kms to Hüntel, no way we could keep up with the cruisers, so we didn’t waste diesel
Tanker and tug going into Huntel lock
trying. Through the river in Meppen there was a one way system operating, but only for boats longer than 71m. From the liftbridge (air draught 4.5m, so we wondered how often it got lifted – rarely we thought) there were signs to say swop sides for the winding narrow section. A cruiser came past heading uphill as the river came back in on our left. He seemed a bit bewildered that we were on the wrong side as he passed by on our starboard side. A push-towed tanker was moored on a quay on the right, he set off as we were passing him. Suanca (83.88mx9.54m 1664T) and tug Gino from Stralsund were
Behind Suanca & Gino in Huntel lock
roughly about 100m long; Gino’s hydraulic wheelhouse lifted up as they set off. It overtook us as we were passing the entrance to the old river where the Hase-Ems yacht club’s moorings were located, then lowered his wheelhouse for the next road bridge. On the next bend we met an uphill loaded boat called Marja from Groningen NL (67mx7.05m 704T). We followed the tanker into Hüntel lock; he went in very slowly. Down another 2.9m in the brick walled chamber. Last year we had to use the old lock (an ancient sloping sided chamber with timber dolphins and baulks) as they were doing repairs on this one. The tanker set up waves in the lock chamber
Below lock No5 Rutenbrock kanal
as he powered out of the lock and exited very slowly. A WSA tug and workboat were heading for the lock as we left. It was 11.40 am. We ran slowly downriver, no point in rushing as the lock keeper, who operates all the structures on the Rütenbrock kanal from his office by the bottom lock, has lunch from 12 – 12.30 pm. We moored on the pontoon below the lock and I started making lunch, Mike went to take some photos. The keeper came back early and called us into the lock (No.5) which was empty with bottom gates open. What a tiny lock (28m long by 6m wide) after all the ones we’ve been used to this year! The lock filled, lifting the boat 1.2m, and Mike paid 5€ (gone up from the 2€ it cost us last year) to the keeper who gave him a
Lock full No 5 Rutenbrock kanal
receipt. Mike lowered our mast down on to the roof and we carried on past the museum with its collection of lovely old boats and engines. A short wait for the first liftbridge and I went in to finish making lunch. A tjalk (less than the German max of 15m long) and a Dutch open motor boat went past heading downhill. Two cruisers were moored on pins next to a very steep overgrown bank by the liftbridge that caused us  (and Rosy) a long wait in 2004 while it was being rebuilt. Two more cruisers went past followed by an old steel boat with a very smoky engine. The latter wanted the middle, he didn’t get it as we had overhanging alder trees on our side and there
Tug at boat museum Rutenbrock kanal
was no way we were going through them. He moved over. Lock No 4 was empty but had red lights, so we hovered until a young man called us in. There was a van on the lockside and two men were working on the tail end liftbridge, one of them operated the lock from the control panel by the top end gates. The trees had grown so thick now that you could hardly see the former keeper’s house – a very elegant lady used to come out and press the buttons to work the lock before it was modified to work from the office by lock No.5. This lock has slightly sloping walls made with bricks in scallop shapes between metal uprights and tiny bollards along the lock edges. Vertical yellow-painted bars had been
More boats at the museum in Haren Rutenbrock kanal
added in this, the deepest lock on the canal, to thread ropes around for the 1.9m rise. We passed the next cruiser heading downhill, a Dutch one, on the next long straight. There was another cruiser coming down in lock No.3 so we had a short wait while it came out of the chamber, another one wanting the middle! Into the lock and rose 0.8m in no time (remotely operated from lock 5). Another Dutch cruiser came though the liftbridge 100m beyond the lock while we were coming up in it. The liftbridge closed again behind it, so we had a short wait while the keeper got the lock sorted before he lifted the bridge for us. Must be a bit hectic
Liftbridge Rutenbrock kanal
down at lock 5 with all these boats, never seen it so busy. On the run up to the last lock (No. 2 – No.1 is an old flood lock right on the border) Mike went in the cabin to phone the Citroën garage in Stadskanaal to ask them to order new brake discs for the Xsara. They’d got them in stock -164€ ouch! Into Lock No.2 and dropped down a mere 10cms. A guy on a scooter wearing a fluorescent jacket that had Brug & Sluis on the back of it operated the swingbridge for us. Our Dutch mobile lock keeper! Past the old Dutch customs post and quay, then Potze’s garage (selling diesel at 1,35.9€/litre now with a canalside pump) and had a short wait in the old flood lock while our
Lock No 4 Rutenbrock kanal
Dutch lock keeper had an animated conversation on his phone before opening the vertical lifting road bridge. Turned right on to the Compascumkanaal for a short distance to lock 7 with a liftbridge across the top end. Our keeper on a scooter was there to work the lock, with manually operated paddle gear and gates that he opened and closed using a very long boatshaft. An old man came out of the lock cabin and chatted with him while he worked. Another long animated phone call ensued. There was a cruiser below the lock with its bows almost on the gates – it backed off before the keeper wound one gate paddle to empty the lock. Down another 1.5m,
Scalloped brick walls and vertical bar for ropes Lock No4
slowly, and as we left the lock four cruisers piled in, what a busy day! Several more cruisers were moored below the lock, but they looked permanent. A short distance to the start of the Ruiten-Aa-kanaal and my turn to become bridge keeper as this canal is totally DIY. Took my key and a radio and stepped off to operate the liftbridge on a very busy road. The panel was all in Dutch but easy enough to follow, although I’m still not sure why there needed to be buttons to press indicating which way you were going, towards Ter Apel or towards Bourtange. Pressing towards Bourtange caused the
 barriers to come down, nothing else happened so I pressed “bridge up” and the enormous
Bottom end gates that open further into the
lock chamber than normal
structure opened, Mike brought the boat through, “bridge down” and it dropped the bridge back down and then opened the barriers. I took my key out of the panel (it won’t let you have it back until all is secured) and got back on the boat at the little wooden staging on the start of the quietest canal we’ve been on in ages. Although the town of Ter Apel is very close the canal was lined with trees on both banks that made it feel like we were going through woods. Saw the occasional cyclist or dog walker as we continued to the next bridge, a manually operated swing bridge (Leeds and Liverpool style) except it was key
Below lock No 2 Rutenbrock kanal
activated. Once the key was in I could lift the locking bars on the barriers, drop them and lock them again with the bar, then the bridge’s hydraulic jack lowered the deck and I could shove it open. A van appeared on the far side and once I’d closed the bridge and it had automatically jacked the deck back up, the guy from the van opened the far side barrier, once that was open I could open the one on my side and recover my key. Back on the boat at another little wooden landing stage. Mike checked the water depth with the echo sounder, 1.7m deep although the signs at the start of the canal said it was only 1m deep. The water was peat coloured, chocolate brown. On through the woods with birds singing loudly all around us. Around a left hand
Out of the Rutenbrock and on to the Compascumkanaal in NL
bend and we were at the next lock, Ter Apelersluis, with a liftbridge. The liftbridge was in the raised position, lock full with top end gates open and a red traffic light. I stepped on to the landing stage, put my key in the slot and turned it – we got a green light. The liftbridge had been damaged, probably by a farm vehicle that was too big for it, and had barriers across the road on both sides. Into the little lock chamber and looked for another key slot until eventually we remembered that there was a green button
Dutch lock keeper lock 7 Pole to shut gates
to press on a post by the lockside. I pressed it and got back on the boat while we dropped down another 1.7m, the lock chamber walls were made of large stones with no grouting so plants were growing in the gaps and water pouring out of holes as we descended. I had wondered if I should have stayed off the boat in case the key was needed again and we thought that was the case as it took the gates a very long time to activate and start to open. Out on to a different canalscape, now we had open fields on either side and farm houses surrounded by trees. There were two teenage lads fishing by the quay we were heading for at the next swingbridge,
Pole to heave the gate open 
Roelagebrug. They got into their 4x4 and drove off as we were knocking pins in the bank to tie up. Beyond the quay was a paddock with horses next to a farmhouse. It was 5.45pm the longest boating day we’d done for quite a long time, almost 12 hours. Glad to be in a quiet spot with no passing barge or cruiser wash. Not many boats come this way as the canal isn’t very deep and all the structures are DIY. We set the TV up and made a cuppa. I’d got two mossie bites! Mike said he’d leave fetching the car until the next day and we’d stay here while he did the brakes on the Xsara.
Moored at Roelagebrug Ruiten Aa-kanaal
Lock operating DIY
Ter Apelersluis Ruiten-Aa-Kanaal

1 comment:

  1. Happy birthday to you too and welcome back to klompenland. We're loving it here! xx