Sunday, 4 October 2009

Shake Down

Sept 09

After taking over Kotare in Belgium the first few weeks were spent kitting out, then it was off for a months familiarisation cruise.  First up the River Leie from Kortrijk to the Ringvaart near Gent, then west across to Plassendale (near Ostend).  Beautiful weather but we had the canals to ourselves other than commercials - perhaps someone was preceeding us with a red flag and bell.

We had blown the bowthruster fuse on Day 1 backing out of the Kortrijk mooring in windy conditions (panicking under pressure) so we learnt to cope without for the month!  The large locks (sluis) were a shock after our UK narrowboat experiences.

A few minor mishaps like a mooring line parting after a commercial passed us at speed - must get new ropes in Antwerp (I can recommend Francois Chandlers) - the odd spot of embarrassment when caught by wind when mooring (of course I meant to turn around).

Some of the barges were not to be argued with.

Brugge Ring
Then it was around the Oudenbourg-Fintele-Veurne - Nieuwpoort ring in West Flanders before heading east again.  Several lots of relatives caught up with us for a few days so too much food and drink.

Veurne Rail Bridge
We were learning that there were lots of free moorings - often with electricity and water on tap

Then we cruised up through Gent Haven and along the scenic Moervaart where saw a good barge extension.

Lower Moervaart
Gent Haven and no seagoing quals
On the return trip down the Moervaart we hit heavy fog at the Gent junction so moored up for the day.

Moervaart before the fog
Then we headed back down the River Leie through Deinze to Kortrijk.

Upper Leie - Autumn is imminent
We moored up for the Winter on 31 Oct 09 within 200m of the Broeltorens. The car still had all its wheels and other appendages and we had already found the supermarkets and a bricolage so all was well.

Broeltorens Kortrijk
Our final act before hibernation was a quick car trip back to UK to select our final crewmember

Kes at 4 weeks

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