We finally escaped from Zelzate and the boatyard on 3rd July – much poorer but much relieved to have got through it all. We altered our plans again. Decided to return home for our ‘summer break’ early and so headed back to Wambrechies where we had booked to leave the boat. This also put us on a quite tight timescale as we could use one of the remaining tunnel crossings for this year (we buy a set of 10 per year & providing we use 6 or more we are winners!). Last date we could travel on this was 8th July so we planned to arrive in Wambrechies by the Saturday, pack up and return home on Monday 8th.
We tarried an extra day or so in Deinze – Keith kindly helped us transfer our car from Zelzate to Wanbrechies – and aimed to set off early on the Saturday. Being somewhat paranoid about all things engine, Adrian tried to sort some things and was checking under the gearbox when a hose on top of the transmission arm sprung a leak (actually he sat on it trying to reach under the gearbox). 3 hours later, the salon full of ‘blue’ air he had managed to apply a rather special bandaid to seal the leak and off we set, heading for Menen that night.
Two hours later we reached the first lock to discover the gates were under repair & so it was shut until the next morning. Nowhere close by for us to moor as lots of commercials were lining up ready for the morning. We had to go back about half an hour and managed to moor ‘illegally’ on a passenger boat pontoon. Didn’t look as if it was expected anytime soon, & we tried to ring to get permission to moor there…… no reply so we stayed!
Next morning, Sunday, we headed up to the lock about 10am expecting quite a long wait but we were called in with another pleasure boat behind a HUGE commercial, so we were off again….. We hoped we could get all the way to Wambrechies – except the locks shut earlier on a Sunday so we didn’t quite manage it! Moored in front of the last lock and were ready for the off early Monday. But by 8am it didn’t look as if the lock was open – so I radioed the geezer to ask when it would open and was told he’d open the gates NOW. Never seen Adrian get up, dressed and at the wheel so quickly!
We arrived in Wanbrechies by 9am and enjoyed coffee and croissants before packing everything up, loading the car and heading for home. Left at 2pm & home around 9pm having stopped for dinner because of traffic problems.
So our best laid plans nearly came a cropper once again ……..
Never a dull moment as they say in the trade!