After thanking the lock keeper for our extended stay at Weurt Lock, we reversed out of the mooring, turned around and headed south along the canal to the junction with the Maas. It was 9am and we had a long day ahead.
The Maas was also flowing fast, but did not look quite as angry as either the Rhine or the Waal and we whizzed along at about 14 kph.
The Maas in flood.
Our new Blue Board in action.
Mid afternoon, we turned off left onto the River Dieze which leads to s’Hertogenbosch known as Den Bosch for short. The first lock we came to was broken and in the process of being repaired with quite a few small boats queuing. There are long waiting pontoons and we were half hoping we could just stay there for the night, however the lock was repaired after about forty minutes and we went on through.
Keen to get moored up were relieved to find a space just before an impressive looking railway bridge at around 6pm.
The very modern looking bridge named The Royal Welsh after the troops that liberated Den Bosch in WW2. The names of the soldiers killed during the action are welded around the structure.
Den Bosch proved to be an interesting and pretty town and was in the throes of a 500 year anniversary of the life one of its sons… Jheronimus Bosch. Of course we were ignorant of this at the start of our stay, but did wonder at the rather Pythonesque sculptures dotted around the town when we cycled in to explore the next day.
Wouldn’t have been my taste then…
Our arrival coincided with that of David and Evelyn (‘L’Escapade’) who were moored on the other side of the town at Lock 0. We spent a very pleasant day with them. Coffee, drinks (Peter and David,) an exhibition of Bosch’s work (Nicci and Evelyn,), a lovely lunch in a fish restaurant and then a visit to the one and only brewery which required several ‘tastings’.
A fine lunch.
A brewery tour by the son of the owner.
I enjoyed several walks and cycles around the town where the ‘Bosch celebrations’ continued apace, culminating in three rather odd processions of weirdly decorated rafts along the Deize on the final weekend. We also took one of the ‘underground’ boat trips available in the town which was very interesting and informative.
The start of our subterranean boat trip.
The town was extended over the top of the canal system rather than increase the size of the external fortifications.
After a week we were ready to move on and set off fairly early on Sunday 12th June. Peter had just started to turn the barge so that we could head back to the lock and onto the Maas when there was a loud “BANG!” from the engine room. After quickly putting the gear into neutral, he checked in the engine room and was horrified to discover that the gearbox was lying at a strange angle separated from the engine. He quickly turned the engine off and we floated slowly across the river towards the camp shedding on the opposite bank. Suitably fended, ‘Aurigny’ nudged into the bank and gently turned to face upstream again.
First view of the damage.
With nothing on that side of the river to put a rope on we quickly launched our newly acquired canoe. Peter took one end of a 30 metre rope and paddled across towards our previous mooring and when he had run out of rope I added another 25 metres and tied it off on a front Bit (bollard). The ropes spanned the entire width of the river.
While Peter hauled the barge towards the bank I signalled to a couple of passing cruisers that they would have to wait as we had ‘a spot of bother!’
Within twenty minutes of the incident, we were back alongside the mooring just a few metres further up. Relief…tinged with worry about what had happened and how we were going to sort a repair.
All bar one of the bolts on the universal joint had sheared off. The gearbox had been wrenched off shattering the mounting plate and the drive plate within.
The gearbox had landed on the keel cooling pipes for the generator causing them to buckle and leak. After propping up the gearbox and fixing the leaks we decided to postpone any further work until the following morning.
Peter was then able to remove all the broken pieces and find out what parts we would need. At this point we weren’t sure if we would need to go into a shipyard or not.
On the bright side, at least it had happened there and not when on the fast flowing River Maas.
Peter phoned the insurance company assuming it was to be an expensive repair, they were quite helpful and we took photos of the damage.
The next day, while I took a train back to Nijmegen to collect the car; Peter tidied the engine room and carefully removed our jigsaw puzzle of broken bits. Amazingly he was able to source all the parts on the ASAP web site and for a small fee arranged delivery to the barge. In the hope that the shaft and propeller were undamaged he decided to attempt the repairs himself.
Fortuitously, our friends Carol and Jeremy (‘Anthonia’) had seen our plight on the ubiquitous Facebook and, coincidently were heading to Bruges by train to retrieve their car that day. Owing to problems in Rotterdam, their train was diverted through Den Bosch and they saw ‘Aurigny’ from the nearby railway bridge. A few text messages later and they agreed to stop by for supper en route back from Bruges.
We had a very pleasant and boozy evening together having also invited Robyn and Ron (‘Echo’) moored close by in for drinks. Carol and Jeremy stayed the night and before they left the next morning Jeremy was able to give Peter a second opinion about the forthcoming repair. He kindly offered to return once the parts had arrived and bring his chain hoist with him.
No sooner had they left than we heard from the delivery company that our parcel would arrive later that day! Sadly the van driver couldn’t find us and it was two days before we finally got hold of the parts.
Old on the floor, new on the table and seat.
Peter texted Jeremy and within a couple of hours he and Carol were back on board and the repair was underway. Meanwhile, Carol and I walked into the town. Sadly the rain prevented us from going on one of the river trips but we enjoyed a couple of coffees and a wander around the Cathedral instead.
Three hours later the gearbox was replaced, even allowing for the two day delay, a five day turnaround was pretty amazing!
With the gearbox reattached and the insurance company promising to pay for the parts, we decided to stay another day and recce the next moorings by car. On the way to Meerkerk (Merwedkanaal) we stopped off in Heusden (Maas,) a pretty fortress town with two windmills at the port entrance.
As we strolled around a medieval market in the centre lots of people were dressed in costume and various old crafts were on show.
Back in time at Heusden.
Exactly a week to the day since our ‘accident’, we set off once again under the watchful eyes of Robyn and Ron who were still there. All was well and we headed back onto the River Maas for a long trip down to Arkel.