It is now the beginning of June and we only launched on the 4th. The repair work from our hitting a hard object on the Marne last year could have taken just a few weeks and the other few repairs to hull and anti-fouling were complete in November. We did ask for a small amount of work on the port engine, but this took for ages and as a result of Eos being out of the water for so long new cracks appeared in the upper hull which Reginald had to repair and repaint.
We do understand that the boatyard had problems with moving premises. In spite of all this there was a really jolly and friendly atmosphere; we now know most of the barges which pass. Augustin (grandson) greets Mike “bonjour Monsieur Tomkinson”, Duchesse the Scottie dog is delightful, we have been invited to BBQ’s, suppers, given copious presents and have been made very welcome, almost as part of the family.
Finally we launched and set off, with Reginald on board, for the Port de Liege supposedly for one night.
Disaster struck when the starboard engine ran out of oil big time. I thought Mike would burst into tears, it was so upsetting.
Now we have to take out the engine, this entailed moving to the opposite quay where the crane had access. The only mooring space was alongside the police boat - very scary lifting this huge engine above all their communication masts, never mind the oil drips on the decks. Patrick a wizard with engines and a colleague of Reginald will do the repair work. Mike did a lot of the donkey work which entailed getting very oily and biking to the outskirts of Herstal. Least said the better.
In the spare time we did watch a few F1 grand prix at a bar up near the citadel and did more sight seeing. I hurt my back and had to visit the hospital and Mike bruised his little toe very badly!!
Charles (Mike’s father) died on 25 June and we returned home. Mike returned in mid-July to supervise the installation of the engine and I came back on 6 September, weather dull/grey, not nearly warm enough.
MONDAY 10 SEPT 2007 Dull, threatening rain, Sunshine/showers
At last we are ready to leave Liege exactly one year from arriving. The day before, Sunday, Jean from the Taverne in rue St. Paul came to see the boat; he brought me a huge bunch of flowers, Mike a Jupiler tankard, a book on Belgium beers, 4 old Jupiler beer glasses and some special beers. Mike had only been to the pub on a few occasions, but how kind. Jean Camille and Josette came for a last supper, I don’t suppose we shall see them again, but will keep in touch.
Set off, called in at Herstal to buy beer and wine supplies from Colruyt. Goodbyes all round to Reginald and Adrienne, Benoit and Philomene. Augustin gave us his last two bubblegum - very kind but yuck!
Off again in the pouring rain to Lanaye lock which took us 1.5 hours to go through
14m deep with floating bollards set into dock wall, very easy. Swapped courtesy flags as now in Holland.
Arrived at Maastricht.
Couldn’t get into yacht haven as we are too high, so tied up at free area on the inside of “training wall”. We were advised to have duplicate lines at high and low levels as drunks walk along the wall and cut/untie high level ropes - charming! Mind you the steps down from the road are tortuous so could be difficult to negotiate if inebriated!!
Had a brief walk into town, prosperous shops, cafes etc. Nice old buildings, very hazardous crossing the road ‘cos of bikes, car free area. Very pleasant town. I keep thinking of John Major and the Maastricht Treaty.
1830 Arrived back alongside to find smell of diesel and rectified leaking joint to PME feed system.
Had to use generator for cooking; early to bed so as not to keep the neighbours awake.
TUES 11 Dull, chilly
Nearly warm enough to sit outside. Fixed fuel leaks to delivery pipe and water leaks to two hose elbows.
Slip and proceed 0935
4 locks, dropped nearly 50m in total. All had floating bollards. I am surprised at the relative lack of canal traffic considering how much went through Liege; most must go down the Juliana canal to Antwerp.
1400 First Blue Flag ever!! (see note)
1545 Skipper tried to ram the ferry which was towing a buoy by going between buoy and ferry. Bad idea.
We decided not to explore the Roermond area which is meant to be very pretty but it entailed two extra locks and too soon to stop for night.
Pleasant countryside, sheep and cattle. Lots of gravel workings and recycling plants!
Stopped for night at WV Poseidon at 97 km. Lovely small lake off the canal, v.good club house, bar, immaculate showers, tables outside on a plateau giving lovely view of boats, canal and countryside. Low power availability- only 6 amps.
A flight of little gulls I’ve never seen before, coots, cormorants, grey wagtails, little grebes.
There is not a sound here except some quacking ducks and the gentle wash from passing barges.
Note:: “Blue flagging” is a normal practice initiated by a barge travelling upstream on a river when they want to get into a slacker current, particularly on left hand bends. Under these conditions you pass Starboard to Starboard not Port to Port as normal. This is signified by a blue board with flashing light that is raised or lowered by the initiating barge according to the situation. Others then have to behave accordingly to acknowledge. The main objective for a small boat is not to argue, although you can see from some of our photos that the rules are interpreted with enthusiasm.
WED 12 Bright but dull, no wind. Sunny
Awoke to silence except for the coots calling in the reeds, a slight mist across the fields.
Washed the decks and at long last we look smart enough to hold our heads high!
09.15 off. Slipped 0915. Various leaks. Starboard engine oil pressure settled at 40 psi at 700 rpm and 45 at 900. That’s good enough.
Leak from intercoooler elbow- fixed. Passed lovely farm land, masses of horses. All very quiet, but not for long, suddenly river full of traffic. Blue flagging for the second time; you have to keep your wits about you. We are not very impressed with the local pleasure craft navigation, a bit like Sundays on English motorways.
Had to negotiate around 5 ferries who are a bit too cavalier in their behaviour and need careful watching.
We passed a VERY smart village with enormous modern houses and gardens to the river. A lot of flood defence work.
Luckily we were just by a landing stage when the port engine alarm went off. Stopped engine v. quickly and tied up alongside; luckily it was a temporary blockage in the water intake - plastic bag or something - phew!! (Nearby was a barge named Lena , Eos was originally Lena III).
The WAALKANAL was v. boring until we arrived at Port de Niemegen with commercial traffic all around, hardly any clear water and certainly nowhere alongside - help.
However, we were very calm, the Harbourmaster was cool and efficient and with his help and that of a bargee’s wife we found a berth inside the training wall, which turned out to be very quiet and miraculously the chaos vanished. A long walk along the wall and then miles from town; Mike biked to nearest shops, my foot still not good for long walking. Slept like logs.
THURS 13 Sun before 08.00, thereafter overcast
This is THE day. This is finally the “moment critique”. From now on we are subject to Rhine regulations and the whims of the River Police.
Ran washing machine.
We locked in with 3 barges, 1 VERY large @ 09.30, then out onto the Rhine, quite busy at first, just like a motorway after a busy junction, everyone vying for position, blue flagging on and off at a moments notice. The water quite choppy and then became calmer. Groins on both sides to prevent the banks washing away and to steady the flow.
We settled at 1000 revs giving us 11.6km, 8.5 approx over the ground.
Very wide flood plain, therefore not much habitation close, because of flooding, 1995, 2002, huge waters. Natural sandy beaches, good for dog walking.
Stopped for night at Emmerich am Rhein twinned with King’s Lynn, Norfolk, is there a dating service for town twinning?
Lovely new promenade with some very nice new and modern designed railings and gates, lots of cafes, too many people with zimmer frames!! Obviously an out of season Saga destination.Bad tempered woman in Erle supermarket
There is a Sport haven up a winding creek but we were too nervous about the depth. Mike biked there later to the chandlery, the Haven was quite big but downmarket. We are moored next to the container port in a very steep sided harbour shared with the equivalent of Trinity House. Lots of ducks and rooks.
Just up the steep bank and through a small park is the town.
We commissioned the washing machine, as one does, but all OK.
FRI 14 Sun, quite chilly
Warm sun for a short time. 09.15 off. Still very wide flood plain. Man walking his sheep like a dog, along the path below a power station. Cattle have steps down the river bank to enable them to drink.
Lots of power stations, mostly coal fired, groups of 1-3 wind turbines, probably to power small villages/farms.
Very, very busy, the M1 on a Friday night, probably about 100 barge movements in six hours.
Sunny enough for wearing shorts for a while.
Early stop at Haven Wesel, lots of space and good welcome by Rolf who has sailed the Atlantic several times and is converting the most extraordinary shaped boat, doesn’t look very sea worthy to me. The haven is used by several boat/rowing clubs; the one nearest us is celebrating 100 years tomorrow.
The lady club member with good English from school days is very welcoming and also owns a Storebro 34 (not the most attractive member of the fleet) which has bits of rot on the top sides, just like Eos.
SAT 15 Sunny
09.15 off. Calm and almost free of traffic. Still the same wide flood plain, grazing sheep/cattle. Power stations. Even in the most industrial areas only one side of the river is industrialised, the other farmland.
We annoyed one barge, but if he had used sound signals we would have known what he intended!!
Did a bit of chrome polishing and put in hooks for the curtain tie backs, at last.
Beautifully designed road bridges across the river.
Krefeld yacht harbour in an old sand/gravel working just off the river, for the night. Again a very friendly welcome. The Club house is in an old barge with dining out under an awning , white table cloths and striped chair seats - quite classy, but inside is really old fashioned with beams and a lot of yellow paper butterflies - didn’t get the significance of these.
The acting Harbourmaster (Club member) is 72 and still sailing a Yngling (Olympic Class 26ft. keel boat). He owned a printing works in Düsseldorf, which printed Littlewoods Mail Order catalogues; also, in emergency, when the English printers went on strike, Littlewoods Pools coupons: he had to have several chartered planes waiting on the tarmac at Düsseldorf to fly the printed coupons to UK - knows Liverpool well.
We met Wolfgang who had taken his boat to Limehouse Dock, London, and also to Rugen Island (German) in the Baltic. We have found the Germans to be quite adventurous boaters; their boats being designed for speed and long distances, as opposed to the Dutch whose boats are definitely canal only boats. We were given a lot of useful info re overnight stops and the state of the river. Showers, excellent for 50 cents, white tiled and immaculately clean, installed by the members last year.
Supper in Club house, not quite what we thought it was going to be - a very large flat crepe 40 cm x 25 cm with ham and cheese; shan’t have one again as they get very cold quickly.
The Club apologised for not hoisting a flag for us visiting foreigners but their flag master was away.
SUN 16 Sun then cloud but warmish
10.00 slipped, river not too busy and calm. Blue flagging again. Similar landscape though more trees. The banks of shingle with willows and birches remind me of NZ river banks. No evidence of flotsam and jetsam, we think this cleared early summer so as not to damage propellers.
Had to bake bread - no shops.
Stopped early in lovely marina under the shadow of the TV tower in Düsseldorf, in an old dock.
The husband and wife Capitain, very welcoming, live in a very modern octagonal building in the centre of the marina.
Had early lunch then off to find a bar with TV for the Belgium GP.
The whole of the riverfront filled with stalls - every conceivable activity for children - the world and its buggy was there.
Mike walked to station to check trains for Sally, long walk back to Marina. I am still not walking far so settle for the most delicious butterscotch ice-cream!
Funky architecture all around the marina, one building has different coloured plastic “pipe cleaner” people climbing up it, another is clad in stainless steel.
Because the German marinas or sport havens are largely run by members and have bars/restaurants, they are more friendly and open - don’t know why the Dutch were so stand offish and dull.
No shops open, food stocks running low.
MON 17 Warm, cloud, sun, then rain.
Barges: 3 upstream. 28 downstream, 3 ferries and 1 amphicar.
Slipped 09.15. Capitain and wife very sorry to see us leave. Very calm, very little traffic. Barge traffic increases towards end of week as they endeavour to reach loading/unloading points before the weekend, Sundays can be quite busy and Mondays quiet.
More towns close to river as land rises; lots of flood defences being built; More trees.
3 cruise ships, 1 amphicar, several rowing fours and five police high speed ribs on training, from which we got a wave.
Passed by Cologne where we have spent several hours catching trains and having good lunches at the station.
16.30 moored alongside Njoor in Porz, portside of river and not much room. Another large club house serving food to non-members. Walked to town centre to shops. Old fashioned bars on waterfront but closed Mondays.
TUE 18 Rain, poor visibility, more rain. Sun later.
Barges: 30 downstream 5 up
Met the owner of Njoor who lives on board but didn’t get back till late last night. Picked her brains re stops further up river.
09.15 slipped. Weather and vis not good, very heavy rain at intervals.
The scenery is changing - we have seen some hills and first vineyards, small castles. Very smart and tidy houses.
Stopped at Oberwinter, newish refurbished marina, pretty village. Hooray we are next to a main road and the railway line after 8 days of near silence! But it was flat calm and the photos are awesome.
We were moored next to man who thought this the best place ever and didn’t want to move - strange, perhaps he is deaf!
WED 19 Sun- quite windy later.
Barges: 25 downstream 7 up. Short day.
09.45 slipped. Calm. Fantastical houses and castles. Sadly a number of vine growing areas have been abandoned.
Hills are tree covered and becoming dramatic.
Ferries, lots of, and you have to keep a watchful eye on them.
Towns appear prosperous, I haven’t yet seen where poor Germans live, and there doesn’t seem to be the same “allotment” type gardens that you get in France and Belgium on outskirts of villages.
Passed the remains of the bridge at REMAGEN that the Allies had bombed.
Fire service boat came up river stopped here and there but didn’t seem to have anything to do, not even training!
Stopped early at Motor Yacht Club Neuwied in an old dock. Welcoming. 15.50€ per night
Next door behind a wire fence some sort of institutional housing, makes the place feel a bit Colditz like.
Friendly boat owner on Silki which he had just brought up the Rhone/Saone/Rhine; suggested we had plenty of small beer cans and other goodies to help us with officialdom down the Danube.
We started to repair yet another Wavelength bad works - cutting away the badly set mastic around windscreen, 4 hours later water is still weeping from the port side.
Went to Yacht Club house in the dark, think it has very pretty gardens and BBQ areas; unfortunately, though it appeared open, a yacht masters course was in progress, however, we were able to buy a beer before they shut up shop.
THUR 20 Sun/clouds. Later glorious sun and no cloud
11.30 slipped having done useful things inc. laying aft cabin carpet. Came out of harbour to be met by 2 sport boats causing an enormous wash which sent everything flying! To minimize the roll we now turn across their wash.
A short day to Koblenz. We are in a “ratty and moley” type backwater with very nice houses around and only 10 minutes walk to main train station ready to meet Sally tomorrow.
Met up with MY Adler whom we first met in Krefeld, the couple are on way back to Wurzburg.
So many houses painted tomato red or bright yellow, one with blue shutters, not looking at all out of place.
A magnificent equestrian statue of Kaiser Wilhelm at confluence of Rhine/Mosel, which from time to time is taken down depending on the mood of the inhabitants of Koblenz. It is amazing, at this time year of low tides, to know that the plinth and indeed sometimes the statue itself, are often under flood water.
Mike had his hair cut and I did a very long supermarket shop at Edeke, doesn’t take cards! I haven’t got the hang of shopping with NO language skills. Too many packets of nondescript sliced meat/sausage which I would never buy in England. In spite of all the shopping nothing actually to eat tonight so had to walk into the centre. Beautiful old palace and lovely shops. Had drink, then dinner at Lorenz, café/bar in Jesuitenplatz. The couple at the next table, he English, she German and very chic (owner of smart clothes shop called Oxford Green) got into conversation re food/menu, and did we understand! Very kind though.
FRI 21 Sun Lovely day.
Mike sorted out our demisters and got ready for the arrival of Sal. She did very well and was in Koblenz by 11.13. I hadn’t had time to wash my hair!!
River traffic relatively quiet, but current getting stronger.
So many castles perched perilously on their hilltops. Some villages obviously very old and others quite modern and boring looking. More extensive vineyards.
Stopped at St. Goar next to railway line, hope trains don’t keep Sal awake. Had drink in village, there appear to be a huge number of VERY tall citizens on very tall bikes. Also coaches of Japanese/Chinese.
The castle above us, now a hotel, is beautifully lit at night.
Marina showers and loos in wooden huts, almost Scandinavian, dolphin decorated loo seats.
SAT 22 Sunny
10.15 slipped, just getting going when small oil leak appeared on port turbo so came back in; put in a new “O” ring and all was well. We need to be in full working order for this next part of journey, which has been written up with horror stories of ripping currents, capsizings, groundings etc.
Quite turbulent around the Lorelei, we were too busy to look carefully but Mike wasn’t seduced and we lived to see another day. Later in the year we had a much better view from the train!
Wonderful castles, lots of rocks, channel changing all the time and although not difficult I am glad we are used to the swift current of the Mersey and Menai Straits; not a trip to be undertaken in bad weather. We followed a barge through a series of “traffic lights” which I am afraid we didn’t understand - slapped wrists for not doing homework!
I thought the Bingen Hole was the most sinister, a very wide river with a weir on one side and no point of reference.
Obviously this is the day for end of season parties, flotillas of club boats on river. We saw masses of moorings in the old river but without knowing the depth, we decided on Schierstein near Wiesbaden. This is a huge harbour with lots of yacht and rowing clubs, we chose the WYC, a large timber building on an old barge run by Maureen (Scottish) and German husband. Again we had a lovely welcome.
Good loos and showers. W. machine also.
Good bar but no meals. After supper on board went into village to explore - mostly shut up but found a bar with not very upmarket decorations and had v.strong deep yellow German wine which neither Sally nor I could finish.
SUN 23 Thick mist, couldn’t see your hand in front of your face.
Beautiful hot sun later. Woke to a complete whiteout, which cleared by 10.00. Still a fair amount of traffic. Found our way into Mainz Yacht Hafen, our home for the winter. Although we had been in correspondence with Reinhardt about depth, length of pontoon etc., he hadn’t mentioned the bridge at the entrance - this we discovered in good time, is too low for us so down came our masts and in we went but not before the port engine alarm went off - luckily only a blockage at the impeller; this always happens when I am at the wheel. As we came under the bridge, Sal heard a father say to his son “it’s the British and their little destroyer.”
Again we were made to feel very welcome. Our mooring is a bit short for us; hope it will be OK. Think we may have trouble from leaves as we have an avenue of trees on the bank above us.
Slightly scruffy harbour and MYC boat house. Invited by Reinhardt and Ziggy for end of season lunch - delicious, two butchers are members so the meat is very good.
We discovered that Reinhardt came on an exchange to Worcester Road, Crosby and fell in love with the girl next door; the following year he stayed at the YMCA in Mount Pleasant, we must take photos for him. (And we did)
We are very close to the station for trains to Hauptbahnhof to buy Sal’s ticket back to Cologne. Explored. Cathedral large and dull. Good ice creams.
Sal took us to supper at Colosseo, the Italian Restaurant across the Malakofplatz. Just warm enough to sit outside.
MON 24 Mist Sun later Rain in evening
Up early for Sal to catch her train.
Started work on shower and work to stern lockers. Whilst Mike was biking to get “bits and bobs” he discovered our lovely old neighbourhood, 5 minutes from us. All the local shops we could possibly want, bars, restaurants, arty shops etc.
Alexandra’s flat mate Naveena was at uni here and has given us addresses of bars/rest run by friends.
TUES 25 Sun Warm Washing day
The new w.machine may be an extravagance but beats looking for launderettes and the appropriate small change.
Looked hard for a post office for letter stamps and the only one is near the station; apparently the Germans have sub-let the post offices to TNT who subsequently closed most and reduced staffing, ours are brilliant by comparison and we lose them at our peril.
Reinhardt came by with our contract for the mooring, he looks much better in office clothes than his rather weird boat togs, he is a huge man. He works as a building consultant for the American armed services - hence his American accent in spite of learning English in Liverpool, actually Mainz is an area that has had American armed services since the war and many have married local girls.
We found café Goldstein just for a drink this time, run by the mother of Naveena’s uni friend Caro, mother doesn’t speak English but we made ourselves known to her via the waitress who did.
Also we met Guido who was propping up the bar. However, he has proved a good friend. He runs a fine restaurant also.
I was forced to try Sambucca liqueur which is disgusting, might be better chilled.
No electrics to area when we arrived back at boat.
WED 26 Dull Sun later, cool wind
Tried to have shower at club house but no power still. Continued with shower room panelling, it’s going to look very good. Mike biked off in search of said PO, tourist office and money. We have had a problem with our joint bank a/c cards, according to First Direct someone/thing has tampered with our cards but the bank won’t tell us where/when. We have to phone when we are at an ATM to tell them which one, they then sanction the withdrawal.
Went to Rosie’s - bad move and beer more expensive than most other bars.
THURS 27 Rain all day
Really dreary but finished shower room panels and lights in aft cabin also aft wash room ceiling.
Serves me right - I forgot to refill the water tanks when it was dry and we nearly ran out; luckily rain stopped long enough to refill.
Varnish and repair work to steering console.
Too wet to venture out for evening drink!!
FRI 28 Dull
Great difficulty, first buying postcards which don’t have rude words in German which I don’t understand, so far only 2 shops in the neighbourhood sell good tourist cards; secondly stamps for foreign countries can only be bought at the post office, luckily bought these a day or so ago, now thirdly can’t find a letter box!
Poor Mike had a real struggle and a boring day doing the final installation of the washing machine but now it looks very comfortable!
I am having difficulty keeping the many mirrors free from a greasy sheen.
Had a lovely supper at Naveena’s friend’s Mum’s restaurant - Zum Goldstein; full of locals enjoying a quiet supper.
SAT 29 Dull, cool wind
Eventually found a letterbox, a bit too low key for usefulness as they don’t stand out from a distance unlike our red and the French and Belgium’s yellow. On the way back I discovered a good fish shop and bought more herrings but still no smoked eels.
The market near the Cathedral is brilliant, about 40/50 veg stalls, so many and not a huge number of customers so can’t believe all produce was sold.
Did useful works such as rubbing down and varnishing though it is almost too cold now.
Went to find Guido’s restaurant, smart, but dining only, so went to Captain Flotte’s instead, only just OK.
SUN 30 Sunny and warm
Washing day, we have to keep a careful eye on the pump which doesn’t always close down if you empty a tank.
Quick drink inside at Citrus, the trendy bar on corner of Malakoff Fort.
The Penny store in town sells quite drinkable red wine at 1.29 euros.
MON 1 OCTOBER Hot/sunny
Went upstream for a last run of engines and emptying of grey/black tanks. During a high speed moment the port engine’s water alarm sent off - soon fixed, but I was driving again!
More varnishing and sorting boat for winter.
Guido Zieglmeier and friend Siegfried came for afternoon drink. Guido has two boats in the Winterhafen, one an old police launch and the other a high speed modern boat. He did his hotel training in Paris and at the Park Lane, London, drives a Range Rover.
They both took Mike to an out of town chandlery which we hadn’t been able to locate.
Redid all the mooring ropes so they don’t chafe on the very small metal loops on the landing stage.
“Finishing up” supper.
TUE 2 Sun warm
Out up stream for last tank pumping.
Tarpaulin time, finally got it all tied up, in time to go out for dinner at Guido’s restaurant. Arrive to find Siegfried and partner Gaby, a banker and pilot, who flew a single engine plane from Halifax Canada to near N.Pole; also Felix from Bavaria who did own a small estate, lakes etc. until he had to sell in order to pay his ex wife! Good meal and a very convivial evening.
Home via train to Frankfurt airport and then Cologne where the Frankfurt/Brussels/Paris train broke down.
Emma met us at Hamilton Square.
Good to be home and have a bath.
Returned to put boat to bed, change oil, put in antifreeze etc.
Travelled from Cologne/Bonn airport via the Vienna train to Koblenz all up side of Rhine and managed to take better photos of the Lorelei.
In our absence the Yacht Club have done their end of season tidy up including draining down the water, so we can’t refill our tanks. Reinhardt has lent us some containers which we can fill at Club house. This reminds us that we should have our own clean water containers for emergencies, also a small folding trolley for moving heavy objects.
Much colder now, for warmer getting up we have put the heater on a timer which is a distinct improvement, the galley is really warm, we also use our hot water bottles at night.
Spent a day varnishing and painting inside the fwd cabin lockers - not easy, lucky I am not 6ft tall. Also finished rubbing off the horrible dark brown stain on external hand rails.
We left the boat well wrapped up, clean, dry and engines winterized. Caught afternoon plane, so not too rushed in the morning.
Home for the winter apart from Mike’s two brief overnight visits to check on “lovely boat”.