Monday, 28 July 2014

Sorry! I missed this posting out! Tuesday 22nd July 2014 Arkel to Den Bosch. 41.1kms 4 locks

Grote Merwedesluis at Gorinchem
18.0°C Heavy rain in the night, hazy sunshine first thing then hot later with a nice breeze. Winded and set off into Gorinchem at 8.00 am. Several cruisers went past heading towards Arkel as we arrived at the Kerkhofsluis where there were new traffic lights. We presumed that the single amber light meant no commercials were coming and we carried on through the open flood lock and down to the Grote Merwedesluis. Mike called the keeper and he opened the lock gates and lifted the bridge (one we couldn’t get under). Just us
Heading out on to the Rhine branch called the Wal,
here called Boven Merwede
in the lock and we dropped down about 15cms on to the level of the Wal, here called the Boven Merwede, (the main channel of the Rhine which has no locks in the Netherlands and runs straight out to sea via Dordrecht and Rotterdam). Mike lowered our mast to get under the other liftbridge and we set off towards the Big River. It was 8.45am as we turned left going upstream following an empty called Natal, who was blue-boarding (indicating that he was going the “wrong” side) heading for the bunkerstation on the left bank for fuel, (all the other
Traffic on the Boven Merwede
upstream traffic was on the far side of the river running closer to the right bank). River traffic was busy, as it always is, with a big tug pushing two large empty pans heading downriver overtaking several loaded boats, while a fast river taxi was going from Gorichem old haven to various places on the far bank and making quite a bit of wash. We kept to the left side of the river as no one takes much notice of where pleasure boats go as long as they keep out of the way of the commercial traffic. Mike reckoned the flow on the river
Guillotine floodgates at the end of Van Heusden's kanaal
was about 3 to 4kph. The water taxi went past again and a couple of Waterways tugs went past making the river very lumpy for a while which causes the boat to “corkscrew” - a very unpleasant sensation, fortunately it didn’t last long. Two cruisers went past hugging the left bank until they were almost opposite Woudrichem before crossing the river to the right bank. We waited for a craneboat to pass us heading downstream, then we set off across the river heading for a gap after two upriver loaded boats. More traffic was coming
Wilhelminasluis, sloping sided chamber
upriver behind them and we were soon overtaken by a 3,000 tonne load of coal. We kept close to the right bank but well away from the groynes which stick out into the river, the ends of which have water swirling from them and sloping sandy beaches between them. The big ferry boat from Woudrichem to Gorinchem was just setting off as we arrived at the junction with the Afgedamde Maas. A cruiser followed the ferry across the river. It was 9.30 am as we passed the haven full of moored masted tjalks and another full of converted Dutch barges. The
Wilhelminasluis, sloping sided chamber
water was quieter and had less flow. There was no sign of the two cruisers that had overtaken us or the empty boat that had come downriver and turned into the Maas just before we did. There were lots of commercials moored by the silos to the left of the lock entrance for Wilhelminasluis. An empty 47m boat called Semper-Spera had just left the lock so Mike gave the lock a call, didn’t understand the answer and it was in English, sort of. When we got there we could see the two cruisers that had overtaken us on the Wal
Couldn't believe my eyes when I looked at this picture,
it's a helicopter gunship coming up behind us at low level!!!
were waiting for the lock. The gates opened and another empty came out followed by three cruisers. Into the lock with the two cruisers and a yacht that had caught us up. Wilhelminasluis is a large sloping sided lock with wooden baulks to tie to. Its gates closed very, very slowly and we had plenty of time to look at the shell covered bottom of the lock as the water was so clear. We dropped down a mere 10cms (I was expecting the water level to rise). After leaving the lock we tied on the very end of the baulks and Mike connected the Markon drive so that I could do some washing. Set off again five
In Engelen sluis
minutes later. Mike put the brolly up to dry it out as it was still wet from yesterday’s rain. A few minutes later a helicopter took off from the riverbank behind us and came swooping slowly up the river and went directly over us about twenty feet up. The downdraft took half the cover off the brolly! Fortunately it didn’t break any of the ribs and Mike was able to put it back together, however, we’d lost the two cords with hooks that we use to hold it down to the handrails, will have
Lady making hard work of locking,
rope round lockside bollard and back round bollard on deck!
to make some new ones. The river below the lock, which was now called the Andelse Maas, was wide and deep and lined with moorings, boatyards and shipbuilders, houses and holiday homes. People were swimming in the edges or lying on the sandy beaches, walking dogs or cycling along the dyke road up above the navigation. A cable ferry was working hard taking cars and bikes across from Veen to Aalst and vice versa. The old Maas continued in a dead end arm to our left while we continued on the Heusdens Kanaal which links with the Bergse Maas. Under a guillotine floodgate and turned left with a bunch of cruisers. It was 12.30 pm. Going upstream on the Maas was slow going
Below lock 0 in Den Bosch - the keeper waited for us.
with the generator running. An empty 85m boat overtook us then blue-boarded round a left hand bend. A loaded container boat, a pusher pair, came downriver keeping as far to the outside of the bend as it could, “wrong” siding around the bend. Above Heusden there was a five kilometre ski zone and, although there were no water-skiiers, there were plenty of high speed motor boats zapping up and down, turning the water very choppy. Mike had the sunshade up and was having trouble with the
Rival in lock 0 Den Bosch.
wind dipping the front left hand corner so he wedged a short boat shaft diagonally across to hold it up. That was OK for a while until the wind gusted and flicked the shaft overboard! Because we’d still got the drive connected he couldn’t over-rev it so we went back to pick it up slowly in reverse. A Belgian boat loaded with containers, called Thiakita from Gent, overtook us just before the junction with the canalised river Dienze and we turned right to follow him up the Dienze. Came to a stop below the lock at Engelen where the Belgian had moored to wait for the lock and we joined a queue of cruisers and a small tug. Three commercials came out of the lock and
Rival leaving lock 0 Den Bosch
the Belgian went in, followed by a péniche called Rival loaded with gravel who tied alongside the Belgian. More and more cruisers arrived, we’d got the tug and two cruisers in front of us, one behind us, one hanging alongside us and three behind the commercials and there was still masses of room left in the lock for more! We rose 2m slowly then slowly we left the lock in a crocodile lead by the two commercials. Two more were waiting to come down, Mea Vota and Pia. On into Den Bosch. Past more moorings and commercial quays. Under a railway bridge decorated with woven sides. By some trip boat
Moored above lock 0 in Den Bosch
moorings next to a Gamma DIY shop stood the first Mosque we’d seen in a long time. Past the two havens for pleasure boats and Mike lowered our mast to get under the lift bridges on the narrow section of canal leading to lock 0, the first lock on the Zuid Willemsvaart. We could see the two commercials were still going into the huge odd-shaped lock so Mike increased speed to see if we could get there before the keeper closed the gates behind them. Rival seemed to be taking ages to get into the banana-shaped lock, which made it easy for us to catch up. The lock keeper was leaning out of his lock cabin and I shouted thank you to him for keeping the gates open for us (the liftbridge had gone down but we could easily get under that). Tied on the left behind the Belgian and we rose 2.6m. Mike asked the keeper if we could moor above the lock and he said OK, go on the right. The designated area for sport boats was short and filled with boats. A commercial was moored right on the end of the sport boat moorings and a cruiser beyond him, so we winded and moored beyond the cruiser. It was 4.45 pm. Gave Mike a hand to get the bike off, easy as the quay is almost cabin height, and he went to collect the car from Jutphaas.

Sunday, 27 July 2014

Saturday 26th July 2014 Helmond to Weert. 33.1kms 6 locks

Lock 9 and the old canal (still used by commercials) Helmond south
14.7° C. Rain overnight, roof and bike cover wet. Misty start, light clouds, sunny and hot with a light breeze later. Four cruisers set off from the moorings on the dot of eight, the last of them had navi lights on so Mike couldn’t resist saying it – you’ve got your lights on – yes, she said, I know, it's misty; so he retorted how fast are you going to go? – she didn’t follow his English sarcasm, visibility was at least 2kms if not more. We set off after Mike got all the pins out at 8.15 am. Turned right at the crossroads on to the new ringvaart around Helmond. We were overtaken by another cruiser and a wide short fishing boat style of steel boat. An
Silos and unloading quay below lock 11
empty called Let’s Go was moored at the end of the lock waiting area, washing down. We joined the queue for the lock. It was 9.30 am. The sun came out at 9.50 am. At 10.15 the lock gates opened and we went into the deep lock with seven cruisers and the fishing boat. Rose about 6m and followed the others out of the lock at 10.40 am. Away went the queue at around twice our speed. We ambled on to the junction with the old canal then on up to lock 10. On the long straight we could see the boats we’d locked up Helmond with were just leaving the top of lock 10 -
The last remaining lock houses. Lock 11. Mike on rope duty
before we’d even got there! We arrived below lock 10 at 11.30 am and Mike called on VHF Channel 18. The lock emptied, there was just us to go up a couple of metres in the new lock. Nearly midday when we set off for lock 11. The N279 continued to follow the right bank of the canal, hidden from view by tall reed beds, but we could hear the traffic noise. Two cruisers went past heading downhill. Surprise, lock 11 was empty, gates open and we’d got a green light. Below the lock was an unloading place at a silo, it had piles of sand but they were covered in a growth of grass. Into the lock, up and out in less than ten minutes! Four downhill cruisers went past in
Waiting below lock 12 for a bunch of cruisers
two groups of two. A commercial was in lock 12, the group in front had already cleared it. A loaded French péniche called Broomstick from Dunquerque went past heading downhill and we went into lock 12. Mike held the rope while we rose another 2m and I made some lunch. We moored below lock 13, which had a liftbridge at the tail end, it was empty with the gates shut and there were more cruisers coming up in the lock behind us so we had to wait for them. Ten minutes later the first cruiser was heading for the liftbridge and it opened as he got there so we followed him in, the remaining three cruisers arrived a few minutes later and we all rose
View from lock 12 back to lock 11
 and the cruisers we had to wait for
together a further 1.5m. It was 2.30 pm when we left the top. The cruisers did their usual 12kph+ and we motored on at our most energy-efficient 6.5kph. The passantenhaven at Neederweert, a small square offline basin with end on moorings at each side, was almost full. Most of the crews were sitting out in the sunshine, they waved as we passed by. On to the crossroads with the Noordervaart to our left (a dead end), the Wessem-Nederweert straight ahead (which leads to the the Maas at Maasbracht and the Juliana kanaal – the route we’ve always taken before) and the Zuid Willemsvaart continued to the right. We turned right, on to new waters (we’d never
In lock 15, old lock with offset gates - bottom end gates
been this way before) at 3.35 pm. The boats we’d locked with were below lock 15 still waiting. Mike called the keeper on Ch 20 and got a reply. A few minutes later the gates opened, two cruisers came out and we followed three of the four we’d locked up with in lock 13 into the 5m deep old brick chamber with offset gates of lock 15. Two of the cruisers took the right hand wall, one had gone right to the front on the left wall so we took the left wall. The lock filled from halfway along the right wall and the water came across
In lock 15, old lock with offset gates - top end gates
the chamber and forced us off the wall. Glad we’d got fore and aft ropes and not the single centre line we’d used with the previous five locks! We’ll know next time! I managed to haul the bows back to the wall so I could lift the rope up the recessed bollards. That was fun. There were two men in the lock cabin but both were so engrossed they didn’t speak and we noticed the lock had many cameras so it may have been remotely operated but was having problems. The cruisers hared off into the distance. It was 4 pm as we set off after them. There was a considerable flow on the canal,
Biesterbrug closed - a good quiet mooring.
around 1.5kph, so we were going slower than normal. At Weert, in the distance, we could see the two liftbridges we had to go through to get to the mooring we intended to use to stay on over Sunday. The cruisers went through the bridges but when we arrived at the first bridge Biesterbrug, it had double reds. They’d gone home! It was 4.30 pm. Looked in our ten year old Wateralmanak and found that on Saturdays they were open 7 -17 and closed Sundays! (That was wrong the bridges open on Sundays nowadays) We knocked pegs in on a section of new piling by some houses next to the bridge and settled down for the rest of the weekend. Gave Mike a hand to get the moped off the roof and he went to get the car from Helmond.

Wednesday 23rd July 2014 Den Bosch to Helmond north. 30.6kms 4 locks.

Little Rival unloading at Den Bosch
19.4°C Hot and sunny all day with a moderate wind blowing. Winded and left at 8.20 am, backing out as we had a cruiser close to our bows and an empty commercial moored tight on to our stern. Two empties were coming down the canal towards the bridge at the end of the moorings. Just beyond the bridge Rival was unloading at the quay, as was Erato. We were overtaken by the first cruiser within the first twenty minutes. An empty was fast catching up as we arrived at the first liftbridge, Dungensebrug, but an empty from the opposite
Reconstruction of the canal at Den Bosch
CLICK HERE to have a look at the photos of the new canal and locks
direction, called Anna from Maasbracht, was at the bridge first so he came through then us and we got out of the way of Erato so he could overtake easily. The widening work on the canal was advancing towards Den Bosch and there was a new high road bridge alongside the canal carrying the busy N279 which follows the canal all the way into Helmond. They’d piled a new edge back from the original and were taking the soil out. The piling continued under the new bridge to our left that’s where the new canal and replacement lock for lock 0 is under construction. The next empty, Albertina,
Pusher pair The-An leaving lock 3 Schijndel
went past heading for Den Bosch at the end of the first long straight, round the left hand bend and Laurein loaded with containers went past heading downhill. We arrived at the first lock, number three Schijndel, at 10.05 am and tied on the waiting area. Two boats came down the lock, loaded boat Leeuw and empty C’est la Vie. Then the gates closed behind them! Mike called on channel 18 but got no reply (found out later that it had changed to channel 20). Two cruisers arrived and went on
In lock 3 Schijndel with Henmar
the quay in front of us, neither crew spoke English. The lock was refilling. A black and red tjalk bashed into the quay behind us and another cruiser arrived. Pusher pair The-An came out of the lock, by which time an empty called Henmar had arrived and went into the empty chamber. It was 10.45 am. The two cruisers in front went in slowly heading for the wall behind the commercial on the right, so we went left and went alongside him on the left wall, the other cruiser came in behind us and the tjalk made no move to enter the lock so the gates closed and we rose 3.6m, swapping the ropes on up the
In lock 4 (nr Veghel) with cruiser
bollards recessed into the concrete walls of the lock chamber. The lock keeper came down from his high cabin and gave us a new map of the Noord-Brabant and Midden-Limburg canals, a very useful basic map with VHF channels, moorings and water tap locations. Great, because we only had a small map in our ten year old ANWB Wateralmanak. Left the top of the lock at 11.05 am. Two loaded boats, Mea Vota and Carmen, were heading for the lock, followed by four
Waterways survey boat creeping along the bank
cruisers and a yacht. At the next new road bridge we met Pia, loaded, headed downhill. A tiny Waterways survey boat was trundling slowly down the canal next to the left bank. An empty called Harja went past. The water had turned chocolate coloured, the colour of disturbed peat. Traffic on the road backed up as a German lorry had stopped, broken down most likely, great queues formed as the busy road is only two lanes wide. The boat we’d locked with, Henmar, winded and went to where some dredging was going on – that explains the colour of the water. Into the new port area of Veghel (pronounced Feckle, rhyming with freckle) and there was a long line of moored boats on the left, factories and
Lock 6 - on our own
silos on both banks. Animo (loaded) was moored by the first bridge, Festina Lente was unloading by the silos. The new container port was on the right bank and a huge warehouse for the supermarket chain Jumbo was on the left. There was a row of moored loaded boats on the left, Anta, Speedy, Salem, Marja; Maurice, Swing and Novalis were moored three abreast - and little Pax (37.45m x6.52m – an odd size, wonder where it was built for?) was moored next to a larger boat called Corma, both were loaded. On the right Memento was unloading and Spessecunda was waiting to unload. Beyond them Emeraldis with a digger on board had paused from doing work on the bank piling up rocks.
Modern lock cabin now redundant, all locks remotely operated
The dividing wall that used to be all the way along the port when it was just the left side had now gone as had the old railway lift bridge. The passantenhaven in the old arm into Veghel looked full. Noted that the water point was still there opposite the Campina Dairies at the start of the arm. We arrived at lock 4 at 12.20 pm and threw a line around a stump. Mike called on VHF 20 and was told there was a boat coming down. Marian, a loaded boat, came down the lock and a cruiser called Ferres had caught up. Another tjalk, a white one, had turned into the arm. We locked up 2m with the cruiser behind us. It was 1 pm when we left the top on the 5kms pound so I made some sandwiches for lunch. It was getting hotter and hotter. We “shade chased” along the pound, keeping to
The line of moored boats at Helmond north
the right as far as possible in the shade from the trees. The cruiser sped off into the distance. No sign of him when we reached Erpsebrug so Mike called on VHF. The keeper said there was a boat “coming at us” and we could go up lock 5 with the cruiser! (He’d been kept waiting by a loaded boat called Ostrea coming down). Ferres was right up by the top end gates, we stayed at the back, calmest place to be in a lock that fills at the front through gate paddles. Up another 1.9m. Another 5kms pound, chasing the shade. We could see the boat we’d locked with fast approaching the next liftbridge and three more cruisers coming towards us and a workboat with hydraulic drive also went past heading downhill. Paused for Donksebrug to be lifted. No
Moored next to grassy bank at end of moorings
answer this time on the radio or the intercom. Made a cuppa. Eventually the bridge lifted and lock 6 emptied. A new mooring had been added between the liftbridge and the lock, it was 50m long and was a three day mooring. Half of it was occupied by a Dutch barge. We went up lock 6 on our own, rising another 2.1m. Past a factory for sale next to an ancient crane in Beek en Donk. To our great surprise the cruiser Ferres was moored on the stumps by the very busy road bridge, liftbridge Beeksebrug. The crew had been shopping and they rushed to get on board and untied to follow us as the bridge was lifting as we approached it. The cruiser overtook us as
Moored by the reeds in Helmond north
soon as it could but when it arrived at the crossroads with the Wilhelmina kanaal to the right, straight ahead the dead end of the old canal through Helmond (now used as moorings and where we were headed) they turned left on the new ring canal around Helmond. Great, we thought, they aren’t going to grab the last space on the moorings! Nope, they were already full. What do you expect at 4 pm? We made our own mooring on the end before the wooden staging. A helpful guy off the first boat came to pull on a rope while we moored on pins. Mike chopped down the high herbage with lots of nettles, thistles and brambles. Set up the TV, found no Wi-Fi and then gave him a hand to get the bike off the roof and he went to collect the car from Den Bosch. 

Monday 21st July 2014 Jutphaas to Arkel. 23.7kms 2 locks

18.0°C Dull and overcast, heavy rain later. Winded and set off at 9.30 am noting the the “no mooring” area continued beyond where we’d tied up and went as far as the junction with the Doorslag (which leads to the Hollandse Ijssel). There were just two cruisers left on the “no mooring” area of grassy bank and both were permanent moorers. We turned left, keeping on the Merwede Kanaal, into Nieuwegein. The first liftbridge had ample room for us to pass underneath without taking the mast down, then we had a short wait by the Wiersebrug, by the steel works (used to be British Steel, then Tata, now it’s got a Dutch name.) Passing into the town there were many moored commercials with private boats moored alongside them. A boat club
Mooring charges at Vianen
moorings on the left looked pretty full, might have been a slot for about an 8m long boat. Signs said the moorings on the right were for commercials only and restricted to 14 days, there were quite a few DBs among them and one small cruiser tucked in between the big boys. On the opposite bank there was a line of houseboats stretching all the way down to the lock, Koninginnensluis (12m wide by 120m long) with a liftbridge across the top end gates of the lock. We threw a rope around a bollard and waited while three
Watering up at Vianen,
note 8m length of mooring from water point = 10m overhang!
cruisers came up in the double chambered lock (bottom end chamber, which is hardly ever used, can turn it into a staircase if need be). The liftbridge went up, the cruisers left and we went in, liftbridge down again and a ten minute wait while two more cruisers arrived, liftbridge up again and they came into the chamber and went right to the front, liftbridge down again. We dropped down 15cms (the drop depends on the water levels in the river Lek, a branch of the Rhine) and followed the two cruisers out of the lock – there were three more waiting to go up. We turned left on the Lek – amazed that we saw no commercial traffic, then right into
Wooden staging at Vianen
the continuation of the Merwede Kanaal. The waiting area below the lock had been turned into a passanthaven with boats moored both sides of the passerelle. Mike called the Grote Sluis at Vianen on the radio and had a reply from the keeper. After a short wait the gates opened and an empty péniche called Nova Cura (39mx5.05m) from Tiel came out first and was followed by nine cruisers of various sizes. Just us to go up. The keeper came down on to his lockside to chat as we rose 0.6m. He
A lockful of boats turning into the arm for water
wanted to know where we were going. Surprised we were going all the way to Arkel and not going up the river Linge (another contender for the prettiest river in the Netherlands, but no moorings convenient for us and everywhere else on the river had no mooring signs when we went up it and back many years ago). We told him we could exit the lock without lifting the Julianabrug. He had to lift it shortly after as there were four more cruisers heading for the lock. On the mooring areas both sides of the canal above the lock, there was only one commercial moored, called Boreas (it looked about 67m), probably its crew were on their
Chaos reigns as they all get in the way of one another
all wanting water!
holidays and everybody else was missing as they were working! Usually it’s quite crowded. We turned right into the arm where there are moorings in Vianen and paused while we took on water. The last 8m of the long wooden landing stage was reserved for the water point and a cruiser was moored immediately at the end of that. I put a side rope on and Mike threw a stern rope to the bank which he went and attached to a lamp post as 10m of the boat had no staging to lie against. A sign said the charges from 1st April until 31st October were 1,35€/m per night, pay at the machine. This included (we presumed) water and electricity. As we finished topping up the tank a cruiser, called Cpt
Bolgerijensebrug swingbridge
Haddock, was reversing down the moorings – he wanted to water up – we backed out and winded as another lockful came out of the Grote Sluis and all five of them went into the arm as another one was leaving, all getting in the way of one another as they all wanted water! It was 11.45 am as we pushed on along the Merwede Kanaal. Just one small cruiser from the last locking was following us, not long before it caught up and went past. Six more cruisers went past heading for Vianen. We had to wait at the first bridge, a swingbridge called Bolgerijensebrug, we couldn’t keep up with the
Senang at Zwanskuikenbrug
cruiser, had no intention of wasting diesel trying, so he had continued and we had to wait. I threw a rope around the wooden stumps and made some lunch while we waited for the next lot of cruisers to arrive, one more caught us up – we went through first - the wind was blowing from the right so it blew us off the stumps as I took the rope off.  Seven more cruisers had arrived and went through from the other side, two more were catching us up, but the bridge went down to let the road traffic cross so the two cruisers going the same way as us had to wait. It started to pour with rain. At Zwanskuikenbrug liftbridge an empty commercial called Senang came through towards us, followed by two cruisers. The two fast cruisers that had been kept
waiting at the previous bridge were racing hard to catch up, they followed us through the bridge and overtook at high speed. They got through Meerkerksebrug liftbridge, which shut after them and, as we were a long way behind, we had to wait again until another bunch of cruisers came from the opposite direction. As we were motoring on past the moorings in Meerkerk, a large cruiser cut right across in front of our bows heading for the only gap in the moorings at the end nearest the windmill. Mike gave a loud hoot on the horn and asked him what he thought he was playing at! I was making a cuppa so I shouted at him too from our side doors as he went past close, down the “wrong”
Grassy bank moorings at Arkel. River Linge
side. And after all that the mooring was too short for him. We think he was trying to beat us into the mooring – except we weren’t stopping! There were several more moorings available further on the way we were going, a long one by the café (noisy) and one by the road junction (also noisy). An empty called Tempore overtook us and we followed him through Bazelbrug liftbridge, whoopee no waiting! More heavy rain. Next wait was for the swinging railway bridge where two trains went past before the bridge swung open for us. A cruiser had caught up and had been hovering mid-canal as we were on the wooden stumps – he overtook and went for the stumps by the next liftbridge, Schotdeurnsebrug, on the start of the verbindingskanaal leading to the river Linge. He hadn’t got a rope round a stump before the lights changed to red and green and the bridge lifted. We followed him through the liftbridge and through the floodlock then he was off like a whippet to get himself a mooring in Arkel before we got there! There was bags of space. A British-flagged tjalk was moored at the nearest end of the long grassy bank moorings and there were about half a dozen cruisers with big gaps between them. We went right to the far end, winded and tied up in the rain. It was 4 pm. The trip timer recorded 6 hours 20 minutes, but moving time was only four hours – two hours twenty minutes hanging about time! Knocking pins into the rocky bank was exhausting. Being sodden as well didn’t help. Finally got inside and dried out.

Saturday, 19 July 2014

Friday 18th July 2014 Oud-Zijlen to Jutphaas. 11.2kms 3 locks

Rodebrug. Utrecht
16.1°C Very hot and sunny with a little breeze. Set off 9.00 am winded and carried on along the Vecht into Utrecht. The line of houseboats started just around the next bend and ran most of the way into the city, up to and beyond the red light district (a long row of wooden houseboats with their backs to the river, picture windows on the other side where the “ladies” sit waiting for business) and beyond. Mast, flag and sunshade down and handlebar on the moped turned to get under the first liftbridge, Rodebrug (2.2m), then a high concrete road bridge
Trip boat leaving Weerdsluis Utrecht
with ample headroom. A Nun went past riding a bike, dressed in an all-white habit – she said hello as we passed. The next liftbridge was a modern one but also low, David Van Mollembrug, we got underneath with everything lowered. We had a short wait below Weerdsluis as it was full and boats were arriving to go down. After almost half an hour the lock started emptying. First out was a tripper, another refugee from Amsterdam, followed by a string of cruisers, a small replica tjalk and a Locaboat – a dozen boats in all. It is a huge lock,
Keeper winding capstan, manually operated Weerdsluis
dimensions say it is 82.5m long and 8.1m wide, I think the latter is the width of the big set of gates as the chamber must be getting on for 15m wide. Just us to go up at 10.30 am. Three lock keepers to work it as it is all manual except for the footbridge across the top end of the chamber. 10.50 am we left the top. It was beautifully quiet going through the city centre down below the basements of the houses and shops bordering the narrow channel. Most of the basements have been turned into shops, cafés and bars, most of which hadn’t opened yet. A few people were sitting out
Into the old city centre
having coffee and reading the paper. One small cruiser went past and a canoeist. A pedalo appeared in front of us, meandering nonchalantly along and oblivious to the boat that was catching them up. Mike gave a blip on our hooter, not wanting to disturb the peace – they didn’t hear it. I had an air klaxon with me on the front deck and gave them a double burst on that – they looked round and pedalled for the right bank, looking shocked! Sorry, but you didn’t really want us to shove you out of the way?? Out of the narrow confines of the city and into a big basin where there is a watery crossroads
Bridges on tight turns in the centre of Utrecht
with the alternative route around the city and the dead-end Singel Gracht where there are moorings. We carried straight on along the Vaartse Rijn heading out of the city. Access to the first liftbridge, Vondelbrug, was restricted by building works (a new railway bridge) and access to the press button to request the bridge opening was very awkward. Mike swung the bows across and I pressed the button, twice. Then I had a reply to say move up to the bridge as we got a red/green light. Not easy as we
A boat making a delivery to a city centre shop.
had to do an S-manoeuvre in a very restricted area with new building work covered with scaffolding on our right (where the button was) which meant sharp left to get round it and then sharp right to get through the lifted bridge. Well wriggled, sir! Just a short wait for the next bridge Oranjebrug, then an open motor boat overtook us as we arrived at Zuiderbrug as we waited for three cruisers to come through the open bridge from the other side, then the speedboat tied up! There were new signs everywhere saying no mooring except for permit holders and the banks were lined with small open boats and
Looking back at junc of Merwede kanal and Vaartse-Rijn
cruisers. A new very modern building had been completed next to the shell of a demolished factory, it had a very fancy new quay with chess pawn type bollards all along it. We saw no signs that said you could or could not moor there, so we guessed it was just for show. Mike dropped our mast to go under the new vertical liftbridge while it was closed but an armada of boats was milling on the far side, two came under the bridge deck but four had to wait so we did likewise and Mike put the mast back up. We went into the open chamber of the Nordersluis (where all the
New flats with decorative quay frontage
ew flatsNboats had just come from) and chatted with the keeper while we waited for a cruiser to arrive. We dropped down about a metre and then followed the cruiser across the busy ARK, a big boat went past in either direction then we went across with four bearing down fast from our right, all overtaking one another. It was very sploshy as we went into Zuidersluis where another open motor boat had just come down and one had gone in, we followed the cruiser in and bounced about until the keeper got the gates closed behind us. We were now on the northern
New vertical liftbridge. Merwede kanal
section of the Merwede Kanal. Rose about a metre then followed the cruiser to the first liftbridge, Blauwebrug, which was open and a load of boats came through heading for the lock. The bridge stayed up but we didn’t get a green light, so we didn’t continue, neither did the cruiser. After five minutes the bridge came down and the queue of road traffic crossing it was impressive. Five minutes later it lifted again and this time we got a green light. The next bridge, Rijnhuizerbrug, was an unusual double lifting deck, we followed the cruiser through it and it carried on. The mooring
View to our right as we crossed the Amsterdam-Rijn-Kanal
in Jutphaas that we’d decided to stay on for the weekend was more or less full – and there were lots of youths swimming from the quay, noisy. We motored on. Beyond the posh quay was a nice grassy bank where a couple of cruisers and a Locaboat were moored. Mike had spotted a three-day mooring before the last bridge and we were going to go back to it when I spied a man on the end cruiser so Mike asked if mooring was OK there (there was a no mooring sign at the end of the quay) and he said yes, if the quay was full then it
Moored at Jutphaas
was OK to moor here. There was a big solid baulk of horizontal timber fendering along the piled edge so Mike dropped ropes around that and we settled down for the weekend. It was 1.15 pm.

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Just after we tied up this beautiful wagon went past - see link.