Monday, April 30, 2018

A week of highs and lows (or Smoke on the Water)

I've just looked at that title and smiled. It sounds a bit dramatic, doesn't it? But actually every week is like that to some extent. Anyway, I'll get rid of the low bits first so we can move on to the highs, which are much more fun.

The main low is my ongoing frustration over workmen who don't pitch up to do a job. I won't bore you with the details, but it's becoming a pattern that's beginning to feel like a burden as it stops us moving on with things. Enough said, I think.

The main high was much more exciting. We finally got the Vereeniging's engine going after more than a year of puzzling over the fact that it wouldn't run. This is a massive thrill and a huge relief as it suddenly makes that dream trip to Utrecht all the more possible.

As far as we can tell, there were two problems: the first being that it had the dreaded diesel bug, a recent phenomenon caused by the use of plant based oils mixed with mineral diesel oil (normal practice these days). Plant oils are vulnerable and since we are no longer allowed to use marine red diesel, which is purer, we constantly run the risk of getting bacteria in our fuel. This is especially risky when it condensates over the winter (if the tank is not completely full). It seems this happened and we weren't aware of it. A nice fungus develops in the fuel and once it gets into the engine, it causes havoc – well, it makes it stop running, anyway, which is havoc of a sort. We only actually found the contaminated diesel in the filter, but drained the tank to be sure. Then Koos flushed it through, changed the filter and put more diesel in again with some anti-bacteria additive.

The second problem was a bit odd, and I'm not sure if Koos actually believes it either, but the diesel wasn't reaching the engine inlet. It seems possible (to me, anyway) that we simply didn't have enough in the tank to push it through the fuel line system, which works on gravity and communicating vessels. I won't go into too much explanation, but once we put an extra twenty litres in, the diesel finally reached the inlet to the engine and we were all systems go again. The thrill of hearing it burst into life again after so long was just magic; the smoke that filled the harbour as it started running like the clappers was not, but that was soon dealt with. It was a glorious moment that we both needed and the feeling that my lovely barge has woken up again is just amazing.

Lastly, it shouldn't go without mention that Friday was King's Day here in the Netherlands, it being his majesty's birthday and a public holiday. As tradition demands, the Dutch deck themselves out in Orange gear and do daft things. The harbour was not exempt from these displays and this was what I saw when looking out of the engine room on the Vereeniging.




I should say that the weather was not particularly conducive to stripping off, but the tub is full of hot water, so I suppose at least their lower halves were toasty warm! There was definitely a fairly brisk wind and a maximum temperature of about 14 degrees. Not something I would do, but it takes all sorts and they appeared to be having fun.

Have a good week, allemaal!

PS: If you'd like to read my first memoir about my life in the Oude Haven, it is currently selling for 99p/c on Amazon's UK and US sites as an e-book. Here is the link

14 comments:

  1. Hi Val - glad you got the challenges out of the way, so now you can look forward to Utrecht ... and that hot tub looks so much fun - bet they were giggling furiously ... delightful! Cheers Hilary

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    1. They were giggling indeed, Hilary, and I suspect that was helped by the bottle of champagne they were imbibing :)

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  2. Yay, Val and Koos! What joy to hear the barge come to life. I am amazed. I knew nothing about bacteria in fuel. Now that commercial in Alabama for the filling station that uses the old, original fuel makes sense! Happy, joyful celebration for y'all. (Steph)

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    1. Steph, I've known about the diesel bug story for a while now, but it's one of those 'it won't happen to us' situations, isn't it? I'm amazed it took us so long to realise what it was! Thank you for sharing our joy!

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  3. I just love those people in the boat - at first glance they look to me like Lego people and, although I know their not, it’s an image that has stuck!

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    1. Haha, Jo, they do look a bit like lego people, don't they? They were enjoying themselves as much as any children!

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  4. A lovely post, Val, and great to hear that you worked out what wasn't working! :) I didn't know 'red' diesel had stopped; pity. xxx

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    1. Thank you, Fran! Yes, the loss of red diesel is a blow in many ways, but the worst is that we are now so vulnerable to this awful bug. The irony is that biofuels were supposed to be the 'greener' alternative to fossil fuels, but we now have to use very aggressive 'ungreen' remedies to kill the bug...sigh.

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  5. Excellent news of the Vereeniging! Now you're going places! I hope you soon have the same success with your reluctant workmen.

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    1. Thank you, Roger! It was just the best moment as I know you’ll appreciate :)

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  6. It was the words "Smoke on the Water" that drew my attention !
    But of course you live in Amsterdam the place with the Cafés so lots of smoke near the water er' h'mm and a friend of mine recently spent a week there sampling it's delights.
    A delightful bathtub boat wouldn't mind one of them myself on our local river.

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    1. They are great fun, aren't they? I love watching them, Mel. But it's actually Rotterdam where I live, not that it makes much difference to the smoke o'er the water :D

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  7. Great to have the engine running again, what is your aircraft?

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    1. Well, now, you had me confused....aircraft? How did you know I had a bi-plane too. Then I twigged...haha...my air draft is about 1,50, certainly no more :)

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