These are the adventures of Andy and Sally Rawnsley on their narrowboat "The Puzzler". We have been living on the boat for over eight 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, returning to Roanne for a second winter.


Tuesday, 19 May 2015

5th - 11th May 2015. From Meerkerk on the Merwede kanaal. Up the Linge river to Leerdam then back to Gorinchem. Across Nieuwe Merwede to the Biesbosch.



We sailed on to Meerkerk, and had to stay there for three days as it was too windy to move.
From the Merwede canal, we detoured up the Linge river to a campsite in Heukelum village. From there we cycled on to Leerdam, where glass is the main industry. There was a lot of teamwork in these glassblowing demonstrations – typical Dutch efficiency!


These ornaments show the work of one of the famous Leerdam glass workers.
After coming back down the Linge, we followed the Merwede canal to Gorinchem, where it was quite busy.
We had to wait for the third locking out on to the River Boven Merwede. We just fitted in with two small boats, so it was quite a contrast to the last lock. The barges have their own lock, downstream of this one.
This is a big waterway, with working barges moving quickly past us. They do not make much wash though, so are not a problem for The Puzzler.


That barge was long gone before we reached the junction, going left on to the Nieuwe Merwede river.
Soon after that junction, we locked down into the Brabantse Biesbosch, which is a large National Park. In many ways it is similar to Upper Lough Erne in Northern Ireland, having many islands within the lakes here.
We tried different types of moorings. The only thing is that this is an area affected by a tidal rise and fall of as much as 18 inches, so the boat must not be tied too tightly! Here we are on Rietsplas Island.
There are several narrow channels to follow between the islands. The minimum depth of each is shown on the chart, and we managed one of 0.5 metres, so it was reminiscent of the English canals.
At this mooring we had to be careful not to go underneath the jetty, when the tide fell. If this happened, then the boat could not come up on the tide, which would be disastrous!
On the opposite bank we watched a beaver chewing small branches. He was swimming when we first saw him, and we thought he was an otter. Then he came out of the water, and was huge, being the size of a large retriever dog.


In the morning, this deer swam across from our island to the next one. This is really an area which encourages wildlife.

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