Friday, 17 April 2015

Maastricht to Bocholt

Friday 10 April

What a stunning day! Cool and crisp in the morning, warming up to shorts and t-shirts in the afternoon and nary a breath of wind - cruising bliss. 

We departed Maastricht at 08h40 and, after a short wait at the Bosscheveld Sluis, stared our journey north along the Zuidwillemsvaart canal, almost paralleling the Juliana canal along which we had traveled south from Maasbracht to Maastricht.

Bosscheveld Sluis
Change of courtesy flag required

The canal is pretty with tree-lined banks and interspersed with rural villages and lots of graffitti covered bridges.

Spotted this old bunker alongside


Just before midday we stopped at Eisden (not to be confused with the Dutch Eijsden just south of Maastricht) to top up our water supply and to look for Belgian sim cards for data and phone. With the water connection nowhere to be found we decided to push on to Bocholt where Ian had found an ICC instructor colleague of Geert-Jan Smolders (Aquaplanning) who had agreed to do Ian’s practical test.

During the trip Lynn kept herself busy sanding and varnishing the gangplank and sanding the handrail which will look lovely when finished.

This is how it should look (only four coats so far).
At 14h45 we made fast at the smallish pontoons (maximum allowable boat size of 15m) at Bocholt passantehaven, unloaded the E-bikes and headed into town to look for sim cards and bicycle locks; found neither so will ‘cycle’ into the bigger town of Bree tomorrow.

Bocholt mooring
Looking the other way
The other side
The cycle bridge to the other side.
Down stream

6 hours
1 lock
Bocholt N 051.17772 E 005.58475
Passantehaven: €7.50 p/n mooring including toilets and electricity, €0.50 for a 3 minute shower and €0.50 for approximately 90l drinking water.

The next day (Saturday 11 April, 2015) started with me scraping and sanding the handrail and covered it with plastic just in time as it started raining.
We rode into the next town Bree (home of Kim Clijsters) to try and organise phone and data cards with Mobistar; somehow they agreed that we could get a contract, cancellable at no notice, which will allow 2.5 hours talktime in Belgium and 5GB data per month. But they needed a copy of my passport, so back to Bochot it was…by which time Ian’s ICC examiner had arrived. Lynn stayed with Ian and Sian on Elle (so that Ian’s licence would cover boats longer than 10m as their boat Njord is only 9m long) while I took the bike back to Bree in pouring rain to try and get the cards sorted out. Eventually this was done and in great anticipation of being able to log onto the net and retrieve email later that evening, I headed back to Bocholt only to see Elle cruising past me on her way to Bree so it was about turn until Ian picked me up. Thank goodness for electric bikes – 31kms on the clock on an ordinary bike would have had me totally bushed!

Ian and ICC examiner Michael

That evening we went for dinner at the highly recommended, Michelin mentioned De Marmiet restaurant – unfortunately we did not take a camera along.

Lynn started with a pretty mediocre seafood bisque and my entrĂ©e of Cannelloni tuna and king crab, wakame, candied ginger, wasabi cream and mirrin sounded delicious but when it arrived it consisted of a half dozen miniature coquilles of tuna with dots of crab in the centre and teeny dollops of wasabi etc., sauces surrounding them. But the ‘funny’ thing was that the arrangement hugged the edge of the plate, leaving this blank platter centre stage – mentally, all I saw was a big question mark staring at me as if waiting for the main event to arrive. Comments from the other guests who ordered the same item seemed to reflect our views completely.

Mains were an over seasoned saltimbocca of veal, Ganda ham, foie gras and sage (a bit like a beef olive if you know what those are) and a splendid fillet of Spanish Iberico pig, grain mustard and honey sauce but also a bit salty.

The red wine which was recommended was excellent but the whole package at €144 was not worth it.


  1. +1 for Geert-Jan, he took us for VHF training. Have you any feeling as to how much, if any, assistance the e-bikes provide on hills? One recent comment I had was that they were only good for pretty flat territory, and hills had to be by pedal.

    1. Hi Ian,
      Nice to hear from you again.
      Being where we are there aren't many hills on which to test the eBikes but we whizz over the bridges over major roads without touching the throttle. Ian used his in the Azores and he said it went up and down those steep hills with very little assistance. Obviously when the battery starts going flat then you have to use more pedal power - yeasterday, after 30kms Lynns battery was on 25% power and although she did not have to pedal on the flat, her speed dropped from the 25kph on a full battery to about 12kph.
      Bring on the hills and valleys of France! Btw, I still prefer using my Dutch bike for shorter trips here - at least there is some exercise being done.

  2. Thanks, that's most useful. My wife Lisette is not good on long rides with her bursitis, and eBikes are definitely in the plan - but it would have been less useful if they were useless on hills. If you have a link to your bike's manufacturer/retailer, it would be useful for reference.

    Bread from a dispenser?! Bet you are reeeely keen to get back to France!

  3. Hi Ian,

    We originally found the bikes here but they would not deliver to Holland so Ian found their Dutch outlet selling the same bike at the same price.

    The bread dispensers are definitely in the minority as baking outlets. In Brecht where we have just come from the only places open at 07h00 on Sunday morning were the 1/2 dozen or so bakeries. Even found a patissserie seling fresh croissants. But yes, French food is calling.