Monday, May 1, 2017

Barge Date: 29-04-2017 

 First outing for 2017

Today is the day. Our first official outing for the summer. The boat is ready and, along with the Silk Purse (pictured below), I depart Diksmuide at 9:59 this morning. Our route has us going upstream and then heading west towards a little intersection called Fintele.

For Silk Purse, this is a shakeout cruise as this is the first time her owners, Barrie and Carole, have left the marina this year. So I will be following behind (see photo below, courtesy of Carole) and we will both be stopping at Fintele. There is really not much here at this little intersection. It is the junction of several canals and it is somewhat unique in that it has a lock that is oval in shape, not your run-of-the-mill straight cut through the dirt. I have been up this way once before when I hitched a ride on another barge to get some experience.

We arrive about noon and we spend some time tying the boats up to the small dock. I think there will be a small charge for staying here for 2 1/2 days. There is electricity if we care to use it. I will connect at that time. I want to know how much solar power I can capture for my batteries before I get into trouble. This is something that is good to know.

One other reason that we wanted to make this trip is to eat at a restaurant that is located here. Barrie and Carole ate here last year thinking they were just getting a little lunch when in fact they had a complete meal that lasted three or four hours. They said it was terrific and the restaurant was packed. So on Sunday at dinner time we will be having some splendid meal of unknown design.

I was on the bike tonight trying to get a better picture of the lay of the land around here. It is, as they say, centrally isolated. There are some small towns not too far off but nothing in terms of a grocery store which I would like to find. If the weather is good tomorrow, I plan on taking the bike out for a longer trip.

In between all these other things I have been working on the signs for the name of the boat. I have switched gears here; I originally wanted to mount the names on Plexiglas and then mount the Plexiglas to the boat. I was hoping that this might give us some benefits such as easy removal when you paint the boat and, as I was going to lift the Plexiglas off the metal hull by about 1/2 inch, I thought this might give the names some depth of field.

But I changed my mind. Someone at the marina showed me his boat which had lettering on magnetic plastic. The same stuff you have sticking to your refrigerator. I thought this was a great idea and checked with the people that have made my lettering. Yes, they sold this and it was used primarily on cars and trucks to show business information. So I ordered enough to handle the job and I have been working on it for two days. But I am a little concerned. Not all boat metal is made equal. I have put a small amount on the boat and was not terribly impressed as to how well it held. The proof will be when I lay on an entire word like Lionel. Will it stick?

It does stick. Here are a couple of pictures:

The meal was fancy and an event. Good service. I had eel and Barrie and Carole had lamb chops. These were the 2 selections for the main meal; Barrie had bass prior to the main meal and Carole and I had smoked salmon. We were not overwhelmed with the meal. Perhaps just the selections tonight.

Our plans were to return to Diksmuide on Monday but morning brought some strong winds. We needed to do a 180 to return down river. Since barges have little or no keel they can tend to skate over the water with some wind. If underway, this force can be counteracted by “crabbing” into the wind. So you are going in a straight line but the boat’s bow is off the line by some amount. Barrie knows best and this is an important calculation I must make in the future. His barge is impacted more by winds. So we wait; it is raining off and on.

Conditions are better on May 2 and we make our turns at 10am and head to Diksmuide.

Good news – our “Lettre De Pavillon Non Commerciale” has been received. The work with the Belgian boat people is now complete. About 2 months to get it.

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