Monday, April 17, 2017

Barge Date: Mid March 2017 

First trip — and a drip

Everything seems to be going quickly and it does not seem like I have a lot of time for things like this blog so let me summarize the past several days.

Having found all the grocery stores in town (not true, still 2 more), I think my favorite is Delhaize. It seems I go every day to the local hardware store called Delva. I have been cleaning the top side of the boat as the deck is quite dirty but as of today it looks much better. Down below I have been looking into every nook and cranny and finding supplies secreted away. Sometimes useful finds, I think, other times I wonder why I will need this or that but I am reluctant to throw anything away. I spend a morning in the engine room trying to determine what tools are there and what supplies are available for boat maintenance.

The boat's diesel fuel fireplace is working out quite well. In the evening it is keeping me warm and overnight, with a small burn, it keeps the boat comfortable. By mid-morning, if there is some sun there is no need for the stove and I shut it off. I have not attempted to start the central heating system but I would like to do so, just to see how it runs for several days.

I am learning that lunchtime in Flanders means stores close. But couldn't all stores be on the same schedule? Some open at 1pm, some at 1:30 and a few at 2pm. Just better to go early or go after 2:00. I notice the people in the butcher shops and in the pastry shops lining up for food at all times during the day. Typically, in the early morning, I see four or five people queuing up for their bread. I have yet to do this as I wonder whether I can consume a baguette before it becomes a club.

The downtown square and a number of streets have been under renovation for the past year with still

some months to go. This means taking a good picture of the town hall or other buildings will always have a backhoe or fence in front.

I have been three times to two local bike stores as I would like to purchase two new bikes for the boat. I think I have made my selection with a gentleman in downtown, Luc. Tomorrow, I should be able to exchange the two old bikes for two new bikes (and euros).

This past Monday, with the help of another barge captain, I started the engine. It caught immediately and we idled for some 10 to 15 minutes. During that time, I noticed a small drip from the water cooling pump that keeps the engine at proper temperature. I hoped that it might stop once the engine was at temperature but that is not the case. So I have been online and calling and I think I made the
Impeller from pump.  Seen better days.
right order for parts. In cases like this, I often turn to the DBA, a group of like-minded barge owners. Parts were ordered on Tuesday and arrived late Wednesday afternoon from the UK. Tomorrow I will remove the pump and I will determine what parts should be swapped out.

Despite the slow drip at the pump, I was able, with the help of friends, to take our boat out for a cruise (have I mentioned the new name) up the river from the marina. We executed a smooth departure from the dock. My mentor whispers in my ear suggestions as we travel but I believe I might have the knack for it. Up the river for a mile or so, then did a 180 degree turn heading back to town and just beyond the marina. There we did another 180 (an important task that requires some pre planning and practice) and headed back to the dock. Docking is more difficult than leaving. Our space gives us 2 meters both bow and stern. Not much. Nonetheless, we were able to resume our berth between two other boats without incident.

Over the past several days my new experiences included fixing a stubborn toilet, charging the batteries, cleaning away the last of the dirt on the deck and getting ready to take the boat out on a regular basis. At the end of this month an instructor/ inspector will arrive on the boat to determine whether I receive an inland waterways license. I should be able to do this, you think?

Received today by e-mail requests for a few additional items for the boat registration. I should be able to send this to them by e-mail on Thursday and perhaps within a week we will receive our registration for the boat (not true).

I have been writing these daily notes (well, perhaps not daily) without yet setting up a blog location but I hope to do that some day.

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