These are the adventures of Andy and Sally Rawnsley on their narrowboat "The Puzzler". We have been living on the boat for over nine years now and are still loving it. Our Ulster born Shih Tzu, Shannon, has grown up, and has taken over the boat! After three wonderful years in Ireland, we transported The Puzzler to The Netherlands, and spent a year there. In 2015 we went southwards, to reach the north of France by June. After glorious weather throughout the summer, we arrived in Roanne in late October, and enjoyed our winter in this friendly port. We cruised extensively in France in 2016 and 2017, returning to Roanne each winter.

Tuesday, 19 May 2015

12th- 18th May 2015. South towards Belgium on the Maas, Zuid Willemsvaart, and Juliana Kanaal.

From the Biesbosch National park we headed upstream on the Maas, which is a huge river. Although the barges too, are very big, they do not create as much wash as we had expected.
The banks are protected by these large stones.

We moored in the first marina at Heusden, which is an old town built in a star shape.
Leaving the Maas, we went on to the Zuid Willemsvaart and on into 's-Hertogenbosch. This town is usually known as Den Bosch. Sam, Cees and Cheetah joined us here, and we carried on, locking through with one large barge!

There are few moorings on this waterway, but this grassy bank above lock 11 was perfect for us.
The Zuid Willemsvaart is long and straight, but we chose this route, rather than going an extra hundred kilometres upstream on the Maas, in order to reach Belgium sooner.

We pulled into this small harbour at Nederweert to go shopping, but this was a bad decision!
One very large barge came past fast, and sucked most of the water out of our harbour. The Puzzler was tied by the top rope and leant over quite a long way. However, the rope held firm, and we came upright again with no breakages. We moved on quickly before any more barges came along.
Just before reaching Maasbracht, we turned off the main canal into Polderveld, which is a lake complex, full of lovely moorings. To our surprise, we found a full length narrowboat there, so we moored together.
Anne and Ollie live on Wandering Snail, which was also fitted out by them in Norfolk. Anne Husar has written a book called “ A Cigar in Belgium”, which describes the Belgian canals in interesting detail. We look forward to visiting all the places so well described by her, and can highly recommend this book to everybody.

Walking is good here, with stepping stones to add interest.

Shannon and Cheetah had some great games together.

Beavers have been very active here. Even Shannon could not believe the size of this tree which they had felled.

It was time for Sam and Cees to leave us, so Ollie kindly provided the water taxi to get them to a bus in Maasbracht. Andy went along for the ride.

The dinghy, Origami, is groaning under the weight!
After a very pleasant weekend together, we all set off, with Wandering Snail moving out, having first pulled The Puzzler off the bottom. We had settled on the stones quite securely!
It was out to the river in tandem, then The Puzzler went south towards Maastricht, on the Juliana Kanaal, while Wandering Snail headed north down the Maas.
We were in Maasbracht Sluis with two barges, and it filled extremely quickly. I counted 4 seconds for each rung of the lock ladder, as the water covered them.
In Born Sluis, you can see the floating bollards. These are really good, as it is a long way up these locks, on the Juliana Kanaal.
In Maastricht there is a free mooring along a wall, which has been built between two river bridges. We found a spot easily, as the weekend boats had moved on. We were told that it had been quite full yesterday.
This wall acts as a breakwater against the barges on the main river. We can hear them passing, but there is not much wash where we are.

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