Friday, 20 June 2014

Tuesday 17th June 2014 Wedde to De Dellen 29kms 2 locks.

14.2°C Sunny spells with lots of white clouds, strong North wind. Set off at 9.05 am reversing
from wooden staging to wind and return back downstream on the Westerwoldse Aa.
Mooring at Wedde
Immediately the clegs found us, repellent on and swatters out. Past the little windmill (a water pump) and the banks lined with Giant Hogweed as we passed the offline basin where the trip boats were moored at Wedderveen; on past the islands and the chalets, caravans and tents, then out into open countryside with wide water meadows, reed beds and boggy land with rushes. Lapwings flew up from the fields and a solitary Egyptian goose took off. Round the new bends where the reed beds had encroached where the Veendeip came in from the right, then the channel became wider and
Windmill water pump
deeper with higher banks (no views across the fields) where sheep and lambs grazing. We’d moored several times in the past next to an empty roof-high quay at Langebrug, a lovely isolated quiet mooring in the middle of nowhere – but not today. Under more low fixed bridges at around 2.5m air draught, so the mast stayed flat on the roof. Turned sharp left, heading West on the Winschoterdiep and pressed the button on the wooden baulks below Bulsterverlaat to empty the lock. Once it was empty and we had a green light we went into the chamber on the right hand side only to find the chain to pull and activate the lock was in the ladder slot on the left hand side. A nifty bit of manoeuvring by Mike and I could reach to yank the chain. The lock was a bigger one at 5.8m wide by 40m long. We rose only 0.6m. The Winschoterdiep was much wider and a metre deeper at 3.5m than the previous navigation. Still no traffic on it though. The noisy A7 followed the right bank, filled with lorries, just 4kms from the German border. A buzzard soared above and grebes were diving, a pair of goldeneye ducks flew off in front, but the mallards stayed put. Mike had forgotten all about the rail swingbridge and it
Lock activation button Bulsterverlaat
was fast approaching midday so we slung a rope on the timber posts expecting a two hour wait during the keeper’s lunch break. A two-car Arriva train went across then a young man walked across from his portacabin office and I shouted we thought you’d be gone to lunch, he waved. He opened the bridge for us and we found we were now behind a loaded commercial which had just come from the Rensel haven, an arm off to the left in Winschoten. Noted there had been a new yacht harbour excavated off to the right at Oldambtmeer making a crossroads with the Rensel. We followed Weslie from Ten Boer to Beertsterbrug liftbridge and a small cruiser appeared and
Bulsterverlaat lock, emptying
circled around behind the commercial. The latter attached his bow to the timber posts by the bridge and we hovered as there was nowhere to tie up while the bridge keeper had his lunch break. The wind blowed every whichway and we were broadside across the canal most of the time, the cruiser went alongside the bank that was constructed of rock gabions. At 1 pm we followed the other two through the liftbridge with long queues of road traffic waiting while we went through. Waved to the bloke in the control cabin
Yank the chain and the lock works!
and trundled on for 2kms behind the big boat to Kloosterbrug. A lady keeper this time and she had the bridge up ready for the commercial. Another 2kms to Graaf Adolfsbrug with our lady keeper officiating. Likewise, she pressed the buttons in the cabin to lift Eexterbrug and we continued through the open floodlock where a piling gang were working. Went slowly, letting the commercial get ahead as we were not continuing along the Winschoterdiep, the cruiser followed it until we slowed right down to sweep right under a low bridge on to the Opdiep
Following Weslie and a cruiser through
the liftbridges on Winschoterdiep
leading into the town of Scheemda. The cruiser winded to follow us (he’d missed the junction). Under a wooden footbridge, passing new flats and houses and a large offline marina and I hopped off to lift the bridge while Mike stayed back. The cruiser came alongside him. It took me a few minutes to realise that the instructions on the bridge said to keep pressing the buttons! Mike did the sharp left turn under the bridge followed by the cruiser and I lowered the bridge then walked down to the lock passing another cruiser. I
Moored by the windmill De Dellen
said sorry I didn’t realise they were waiting for the bridge, they could have come through before I lowered it. Mike by this time had our boat in the schutsluis (back to small locks - 6m wide by 25m long) and the cruiser went in ignoring Mike’s miming of “turn the key in the slot before you come in”. The lock light was still red, so they had to back out and put the key in and turn it before the power pack started up to operate the lock. They pulled the cord and we dropped down 2m. Wished them a good trip as they were carrying on to Nieuwolda, completely forgetting there were a couple of bridges to operate. Round a sharp right hand bend on to the Termunsterzijldiep, now heading North, and it was just a short distance to Zwaagsterklap liftbridge. The lady off the cruiser had got the bridge open (and a long queue of road traffic was fast forming) and we started to follow the cruiser through the bridge - except she pressed the button to drop the bridge – Mike gave a toot on the hooter and the bridge
Giant hogweed
stopped going down. As we passed them we said we’d work the next bridge for them. OK. It was only a few hundred metres to Tichelwaardsdraai swingbridge. Waited until they were close behind us and I opened the bridge which had manually operated barriers (it only led to a boat workshop) and an electrically operated bridge. She said that she’d hit the stop button and had only to pull it back out again before the bridge carried on working! We wished the crew a good journey as they went past and Mike followed them through the bridge, then paused to pick me up after I’d closed it – I had one van waiting to cross the bridge. Under the busy A7 motorway and 1.5kms to the mooring by the windmill called De Dellen, built in 1854 it worked for 133 years before being retired in favour of a small electric water pump! Someone had left an old wooden canoe tied in the middle of the mooring, we went in front of it with our bows a couple of metres beyond the end. Mike put a pin in the bank to hold the bows steady in the ever-blowing North wind. It was 3.30 pm.

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