Kinette
Written by Christian and Charlotte Huber (Kinette)   
Sunday, 12 July 2009 00:00

 

Our Swiss friends on Kinette recently sent us this email about their cruising adventures.  Chris is a great photographer, so even though their web site is written in Swiss German, you should still go there to enjoy their pictures. www.kinette.ch

Dear friends

When we left Roanne Easter Monday, we had two fixed appointments: The DBA rally in Paris June 12 - 17 and the shipyard in the Netherlands September 4 - 11. So we had a lot of time to mess around the latéral à la Loire, the Briare and the Loing Canal. Here it was again, our Burgundy rhythm: three hours cruising, three days biking and exploring the region. In Beaulon we had "little Roanne" (the escaped ones...) with Andries and Rita (Weltevreden) and the Kyrenia-people. Once in St-Mammès (June 2) we made our DAF breath the fresh Seine air which it obviously appreciated.

The DBA rally in the Villette basin was gorgeous, about 30 barges, decorated with flags and pennants. What an eyecatcher! Socializing from morning until late in the night was hard work but of course great fun. Moreover we had our son on board who appreciated his private chambre d'hôte in the middle of Paris.

Down the Seine, up the Oise and spending a fortune at Guerdin's in Compiègne because we needed new ropes, new batteries and fuel. We discussed how to head north: Canal de St-Quentin or Canal du Nord? We had heard interesting horror stories about the Canal du Nord, heavy traffic and nothing but concrete banks - but we never have done it before so we did it. Just great! Thanks to the economical crisis few traffic, professional work of the lockkeepers and thanks to the VHF no waiting at all. The region around Péronne where we crossed the Somme river was absolutely marvellous! Mooring - to be honest - was not as we were used to but we always found a quiet place to stay overnight, mostly upstream of locks.

At the end of the Canal du Nord, in Arleux, we headed towards Dunkirk on the Escaut-Dunkerque (grand gabarit) Canal, a water highway again. We left it to reach Lille because we had friends on board who wanted to catch the TGV.

The canalized Deûle to Lille was green of algae, and the Don lock so full of algae you could have walked on it. Every half hour we had to stop,turn off the engine and clean the water strainer. Great fun.

Lille is worth a visit. No, absolutely no amenities for pleasure craft, but a hidden mooring in the "bras de la citadelle", just in front of a park and a greek restaurant. You know the Greeks? Their gastronomy? Their overwhelming friendliness? We could have spent the rest of the year there!

From Lille we cruised down the Lys (lilly in english), a quiet, small, rural river with the name it deserves. Weed, algae, shallow - great fun again.

On the Canal du Nord, in one of those endless long  lock, we met a professional captain transporting some hundred tons of grain. In the next lock, he said on VHF: "You seem to be nice people. I have a private mooring just before Dunkirk. Come and see me!" He explained us the entrance in the old Canal having to be done in reverse but we would have water and electricity. You have to take those opportunities if they come to you!

It was a very - VERY! - windy day (Flandres is flat as flat can be!) when we tried to turn 180° to enter through a narrow bridge into the Canal de la moyenne Colme. But the wind was so strong we just had no chance to turn on the grand gabarit Canal. So new decision: we enter there forwards. The bridge has on its two pillars wooden crash protectors. To be correct: it HAD two wooden crash protectors. One is missing now by unknown reasons.

Anyway, we managed to get in that Canal and saw (i) our captain friend and (ii) three steel piles close to the left bank. We had strong offshore wind. Repeat: Strong offshore wind. To make a long story short: We managed to throw our ropes to the bank (the steel piles would have cut them), we managed to get as close as possible to those steel piles, there was no gangway with the appropriate length and the wind blew that day, it blew the next day - and we were on our ship and saw the bank. No way to get out in reverse with this wind. Again: great fun.

Day three we woke up at 7 a.m. No wind. No breakfast, no completing our morning toilet. Just our check list "standard operating procedures for take off" and there we went, in reverse, back to the grand gabarit. It was like escaping from jail.

This happenend just some 8 kms from Dunkirk and, frankly said, Dunkirk's barge moorings are more than grotty. So we decided to enter the Canal de Bergues.

And here we are at the moment: Bergues. Scenic medieval fortress with a splendid harbour nobody seems to know, water and electricity and all amenities of a Ch'ti town. By the way: They really turned it here, the movie "Bienvenue chez les Ch'tis". Bergues is French, its Flemish and it's marvellous. Once more we wonder how people can choose an other lifestyle than messing around with a barge!

Next week we want to make the Furnes-Canal to Belgium, the Lo-Canal up, the river Ijzer down and then - of course! - Brugge and Gent.

Now that's it for the moment.

We miss you, we hope you are okay, you enjoy life and you have a good time!

Love

Charlotte & Christian Huber
M.S. Kinette
En voyage sur les voies navigables
d'Europe

Their journey continues with this update from September 13, 2009

Dear friends

About two months ago we reported our gorgeous journey from Roanne to belgian Flanders and we told you that boat and crew never did fail. If you now expect juicy stories about break downs in the worst possible moment: letdown! Thanks to the work done by Foster the last winter and the winter before we made it without the usual disaster (you remember Texas Bill? "In fact we do not cruise but we stumble from catastrophe to catastrophe"). Even two very, very long journeys, one of 84 kms (Gent-Antwerp) and one of 98 kms (Antwerp-Drimmelen NL) with full speed ahead didn't get Kinette worked up. Brugge was nice but very, very touristic and we felt ripped off. Gent was much more relaxed, a gorgeous town too and very friendly people. From Gent to Antwerp we took the fast train by waiting for the flood and then surfing down to Antwerp in six hours, sliding around the corners of twisting River Schelde. Great fun!

We left Antwerp 6 a.m. and cruising through the huge commercial harbour in the morning haze just before sunrise was a moment to die for. Hope you'll like the pics on our homepage as soon as report #56 is online.

Some quiet days in the nature reserve "Biesbosch" in southern Holland and then we headed for the shipyard. With Dicky and Ton Wilhelm ("Vrouwe Dirkje") we had arranged to go there one after the other. We helped and hosted each other and this turned out to be a perfect arrangement.

After all the experiences we had made with shipyards ("Oh! You're already here? We are behind! But you only have to wait one week!") this was heaven: arrival 9 a.m., hauled out 9.15 a.m., start high pressure cleaning 10 a.m., ship clean 11. a.m., prop off 11.15 a.m. and so on.

As we had some work to do to make Kinette conform to TRIWV (Technical Requirements for Inland Waterway Vessels) it looked like the pit stop at a car race: shipyard workers painting, insurance expert inspecting the hull, electrician installing an echo sounder and a transponder (expensive and useless gadgets we are obliged to have if we want to get that f... TRIWV certificate), carpenters making lovely teak hatches - above, below and in the boat were workers and in the eye of the hurricane Charlotte made coffee for everybody. Great fun again.

Now we are off the shipyard, our billfold is empty and we are happy. The weather being fine at the moment we have decided to mess around on those beautiful rivers and canals before we slip into the scenic town harbor in the centre of Gorinchem where we will spend the winter. A beautiful, small, medieval and fortified town, on the banks of the Rhine, here called Boven Merwede.

Everything would be fine if you all were here too. We sorely miss you and we are looking forward to seeing you again where ever it may be!

From Holland with love

Charlotte & Christian Huber
M.S. Kinette
En voyage sur les voies navigables d'Europe

www.kinette.ch