Aug 5 Jack’s tales In Offenbach

Written by Jack van Ommen on August 5th, 2010

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Offenbach is just east of Frankfurt on the Main River. I have had problems getting my laptop connected to the internet. The internet cafes just let you use their computers because they are afraid of other laptops infecting theirs. Right now I found a friendly receptionist at a local hotel to hook up to their Wi-Fi. I wrote the below yesterday :

It is Wednesday evening. I arrived mid afternoon at the junction where the Main River flows into the Rhine. I am tucked away in a marina across from Mainz in a small town called Gustavsburg. So, what a relief that the most difficult part of this trip, the about 350 k.m. tow up the Rhine River,  is behind me. Tomorrow the trip continues with 384 k.m. on the Main through 34 locks, but fortunately very little current against me.  This will take me about a week to get into the Main-Donau Canal at Bamberg.

I was extremely fortunate to have Marinus and Leni Hoogendoorn help me to get up the Rhine to Koblenz. And then, once again with their help, I got towed to Mainz today.

But let me start introducing the whole gang aboard “Glissando”.  In the below picture there are 10 of them. Marinus and his wife Leni are the owner/operators of the vessel.  Marinus grew up on his family’s barge. His brother Leendert runs one and their oldest son, also Leendert (who was not aboard “Glissando”) owns another barge.Kees, one of the Hoogendoorn brothers and his wife Anja and their two tow head daughters came along for the ride and they and their car got off on Monday in Cologne. Jan, son #2, and his girlfriend, Joline, drove back from Duesseldorf and took the Hoogendoorn’s youngest daughter, Marilene, with them for her to attend sail camp.  The youngest son, Arie, also drove back to Holland from Duesseldorf.

Kees, Anja and the girls and Marinus and I went to 11 a.m. Sunday mass at the old Dominican church of Sankt Andreas.  The service was standing room only. Later in the afternoon the whole gang held a Sunday service aboard by listening to a recorded Sunday service. There were enough bibles and song books aboard for all to read and sing along. I was raised in a protestant family with similar values and rituals. A blessing is prayed before and a prayer of thanks after our meals and a bible reading is done.  I was pleased to find that this has not disappeared in Holland all together, afterall.   The great grandson of my great uncle ( I believe this  is something like a nephew twice removed??) Hubert Arendt and his wife Manuela came to visit me on “Glissando”.  They live near Duesseldorf. I had discovered the existence of his father, Georg Arendt, in 2003 and saw him for the first and last time in 2004. He passed away in 2005. Hubert’s grandmother was a cousin of my mother and they both grew up with the same first and last name.

His grandma grew up in Germany and was a member of the Nazional Socialist party during the 2nd WW and my mother was arrested for resisting the same system.  But thank God we have all survived it and it has not affected the family bond.

At dinner time last night a barge pulled in, to rest for the night, ahead of “Glissando”  where we were being unloaded of the full load of street salt crystals.  “Avensis” was also from Werkendam, where the Hoogendoorns hail from. Marinus found the skipper, Rinus, agreeable to pull me to Mainz. They were going to discharge their load of coal upriver from Mainz. This barge ran a knot and a half faster and it was a hairy and fast ride, especially through the rapids at the Lorelei. But all worked well. Marinus came aboard “Avensis” at 4.30 a.m. and made sure all went well. He let me use the tow ropes he had specially bought for the tow and his system wiuth the starboard and port lines again worked very well even at the higher speed and through the rapids. Leni came and picked Marinus up after we were on our way for a half hour or so, in the inflatable runabout they carry on board “Glissando”.

The weather was not ideal for photos, it was dark and frequent showers. Later in the asfternoon it cleared up. This Rhine trip is a favorite tourist attraction and you will have seen many pictures of it. For some reason I had expected more of the Lorelei. Just another Rock pile. Oh, well. The rush of the water on the hull, at planing speed, drowned out the Siren Song. But the villages and the vinyards draped on the hill sides are a sight to behold.

Thursday again: I am getting the routine down on the locks. I am forever grateful to Henk Nauta, who has done this trip to Turkey, and when I met him in Friesland, last month,  recommended that I make up wooden boards to cover the fenders. This works great. Because the fenders otherwise disappear in the cavities of the undulated iron lock walls. And these walls are slimy and nasty. But the slowing is agonizing slow. If I had more engine speed I could tag along with the rest of the traffic. Now I end up showing up by myself and then have to wait for the next batch of barges and sport boats to catch up to me from the previous lock I passed through. There is a lock about every 6 nautical miles…. Today I left at 9 a.m. and arrived in Offenbach at 5.30 p.m. covering all of 40 k.m., about 22 nautical miles, ouch! I went through three locks.   There are locks for pleasure boats only. But they are self service and it is impossible for me to handle all the operations of mooring at the lock, opening the gate, letting the water in, opening the exit door, putting it back in neutral and running back to the boat to be sure the lines are raised while the boat rises, by my self. In the first lock I rafted onto a Dutch barge. This avoids having to continuously adjust the two lines while the water level rises. Three locks down 95 to go till the Black Sea…..

 

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