We finally left Zelzate on Thurs 3rd Oct after another few days up in the air & on the wonk! They were as keen for us to go as we were to leave as another boat was revving up to replace Piedaleau up in the air….
But we have had the transmission leak redone (after only 80 engine hours! not happy!), the back fender we ripped off last year rewelded in position, the fractured hose & isolation tap replaced and had a new solanoid provided so that we can turn the engine off easily again! Phew! It sure has been an expensive year this year.
And we still have the water tank to get sorted. Chris Hanley (not Lanley!) came to have a proper look at the weekend and is thinking it through. He will do the drawings etc for TecTanks to fabricate made to measure plastic tanks for us. The logistics of getting guys and tanks here to do the actual work have yet to be worked out.
We were planning for Chris and his mate to come over to Bruges to do the work in Nov or December and Adrian would come over too if possible. However, disaster hit Chris and put him out of action. They were awaiting a weather window in Calais so that they could return across the channel to their birth in Ipswich, when Chris had a nasty argument with the winch! Took off the top of his thumb and broke a finger on the other hand. So no crossing the channel to return home and no working on any boats for a while. Last we heard they are still in Calais after a couple of operations and various hospital visits! Ouch!!!
So, the saga of the LEAK drips on & on …… Has to be left until the New Year now.
Back to my tale: So there we were ….. heading up the Ternuzen Canal through the port of Ghent with all the big boys which was fine this time …… & no police boarders this time either …. when I suddenly got a text saying ‘I can see you on cctv in the harbour!’ ….. spooky or what! Joeri, whom we met last year, is now a lieutenant for the Port of Ghent, was obviously keeping his eye on Piedaleau on the AIS!
We were heading for Schipdonk for the night so that we would have an easy run through to Bruges on Friday. As we approached the moorings we saw Coole Swan (Pat) was already there. We went on board for a beer (or so) and planned to set off together in the morning.
We set off happily enough and were overtaken by another boat from Flandria with Patrick the harbour master on board. Then along came Joni (Grainne & Andy) with Jeanne (Keith) behind! We formed quite a convoy! Patrick called into the control centre so that we could all get through the lifting bridges together. Made our life easier but I’m not sure the cars, bikes, pedestrians thought much of waiting for 5 boats to go through!
We are moored in front of the clubhouse this year which is helpful for showers etc. Nice & close for aperitifs ….. and not far to stumble back afterwards. Which is exactly what we did on Friday (4th Oct) evening – all celebrating our various returns to Bruges for the winter and exchanging tales from the season’s cruising. This important activity continued on the Saturday when we joined friends from La Coupure to help Diana celebrate her birthday. We felt it was particularly important to do this as Chris and Diana have sold their boat, Esme, and will be returning to UK as landlubbers very soon. Chris is, however, continuing to act as editor for the DBA’s Blue Flag magazine so they are not severing all boaty type ties.
We (well Grainne & I) decided to host a shared supper – us, Grainne & Andy, Chris F, Keith and Irish couple, Paul & Elaine, whom we met on the Somme and are now moored beside us for the winter. Managed to seat all 8 on Piedaleau for dinner. Great evening.
Then suddenly we were packing up and trying to empty out all the water from the tank in order to return home for a while. Packing up always seems to take so much time and we are always amazed at how much stuff has to come to & fro with us!
We came home on 14th Oct – 10 days in which to prepare for our next adventure!