Come with us as we travel round Europe in our floating home

Wednesday, 14 June 2017

Nieuwpoort to Bruges

Hello, Bienvenue, Goededag...............Take your pick as there are lots of different languages spoken around here

We said goodbye to Martin and Maggie early on Saturday morning when they set off back to the UK and as the wind had eased off a bit we finally managed to leave Nieuwpoort Marina at high tide later that morning.

First job was to fill up with diesel which wasn't as straight forward as we'd been told in the marina office. We pulled onto the services pontoon to the self-service diesel pump and then had to work out how to use it as it was all in Dutch. Luckily when I inserted my new French bank card it converted to French instructions which we understood, but it would only let us have 125 Euros worth of fuel which was just a drop in our tank. We had another splash using a different bank card but decided to call it a day and try elsewhere later.

The man in the marina office had also told us we could buy our Belgian Waterways Licence at the first lock but on inquiring over the VHF radio we were told that was impossible and to try at the next lock.  At the next lock we were answered with a firm "NO" and then at the third lock we were just met with silence!  We were illegal aliens!

It was a beautiful day for our first cruise

and being weekend one of the first things we came across was a fishing match.  It went on for about a mile and we slowed down as we would have done in UK. It wasn't just to be polite but to have a good look in all the tents that the fishermen had erected. It seemed like the whole family made a day out of it, with some having even brought their sofas as well as tables and chairs and the ubiquitous BBQ. We were greeted and waved at by the fishermen but when a speeding hire boat came in the opposite direction they shouted abuse and waved fists - seems like fishermen are the same over here as at home.....

This was a bit of a surreal sight. Four teams of men in kilts were tossing cabers and drinking beer

The bridges are all operated for you here. Most of the time they know you are coming and either raise the bridge

or lift the footpath

or even the entire road! It really is spectacular engineering.

We stopped on a free public mooring on Saturday evening and carried on into Bruges on Sunday. The guide book tells you that Sunday is a day for pleasure boats and that commercial vessels don't operate, so we were rather surprised to meet this tug pulling a huge crane in one of the bridge holes

Our destination in Bruges was the Coupure Yacht Haven which we'd pre-booked for a couple of nights. They were expecting us and raised the foot bridge to let us in

This photo was taken by one of my Face Book friends who was already moored there.

On Monday the Harbour Master phoned the last lock for us as he was really worried that we didn't have a licence and could be heavily fined if there was a spot check.  It took us about half an hour to walk back to the lock office where we did the paperwork and were told that the locks are unmanned on a Sunday, with everything being controlled from the central office which explains why we'd been unable to buy our licence.

As soon as we arrived in Coupure we joined the local yacht club/association to take advantage of half price mooring fees and are enjoying Bruges so much that we've decided to stay a couple of extra nights. It's a beautiful city but everything is hellishly expensive, especially food in restaurants and supermarkets alike.

Our next port of call will be Ghent, so please come back again soon and see how we get on there.

Bye for now

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