Maasbracht - Mamma mia - here we go again…!

We are back on the boat! 

Seeing the Freshwater afloat was great (thanks for the preview pics Lucy and Max!) but on closer inspection we got quite a shock! Having come to terms with that the boat hadn’t been painted, we did expect it had been cleaned by the boatyard - silly optimists that we are!

In fact the inside was covered with dust and grime. As there are no facilities at the boatyard and a thunderstorm was brewing, we had no choice but to head off towards the nearest marina in Maasbracht. The first lock of the year, always a place of contention, was shared with two massive commercial barges. But after an initial shuffle from one bollard to the next, we mastered the descend with bravado!

And then we were back in the marina of Maasbracht where we had finished our boats trip in 2016. Here the serious unpacking, sorting and scrubbing could begin. After a break of nearly two years this was almost like moving house. We discovered clothes we had forgotten about, food with expired used-by labels, totally flat soft drinks and boating items that had become obsolete. 

While still up to the elbows in grease we saw an Aussie flag on the bow of a barge called Moondance which was sitting across from us in the harbour. Before Austin could do his usual walk- about, the owners of Moondance, Deborah and Howard, walked past and invited us for a drink. We had a lovely evening on deck of their beautiful 96 year old barge.

Since we hadn’t heard from the canopy maker whom we expected to meet on our arrival in Maasbracht we rang and were told that the canopy wouldn’t be ready until the following week. With dark clouds looming overhead we dug out our biggest tarpaulin and under puzzled looks from neighbouring boats, draped the unattractive plastic sheet over the deck of the Freshwater. Luckily, while waiting for our new “roof”, we had only one heavy shower, but we appreciated the shelter from the hot sun and Austin thought that the G & T tasted just as nice under our makeshift contraption. 

On a positive note: during our absence the new curtains had been hung and the dirty old carpet replaced. It made such a difference! Also the weekend in Maastricht was full of entertainment with cruise ships and party boats in full swing, the waterside cafés full of patrons and the local fishmonger cooking up delicious food.

Today our Belgian sailmaker arrived and fitted the newly designed canopy. It looks great and gives us protection from rain and wind.

Now we are off to see the Netherlands and learn new skills from the experienced Dutch “Schippers”. The fridge is filled with gouda and Amstel beer - nothing to stop us now!

© Austin Robinson 2019