My Travel Blog

We’re Legal To Drive Rabelo! … In Most European Countries…

It’s been a tough week.  All we did was get up, eat breakfast and then head out to shop.  If there were time we’d grab a quick bite for lunch and then back to the stores.  Normally we didn’t eat dinner until after 8:30pm. When we got back to the Hotel Old Dutch we would check our e-mail and then lights out only to repeat the same schedule the next day.

It’s time to take a break.  We are going to Cambria, France to take a barge course to qualify for our International Certificate of Competency (ICC.)  This will allow us to drive Rabelo legally in most European countries.  Lisa and I have been studying the last two months for the written test, but we will have to rely on our experience for the practical portion.  I’ve had lots of practice driving barges, but Lisa has had almost none.  We don’t know how well she will do.

Tam and Di Murrell’s barge Friesland.

We arrived in Cambria at 6:00pm.  Checked into our hotel and then walked to the basin where Friesland, our classroom for the next two days, was tied up.  At 80 ft. and just over 13 ft. wide she was an intimidating vessel, but compared to Rabelo she’s quite small and should be easy to drive in and out of the locks.  Tam and Di were our delightful hosts and instructors.  Peter and Ann were the other couple that took the course with us.  We sat down for drinks and hors d’œuvre and then went out for a lovely dinner.  The following day the real work would begin.  Each couple was required to handle Friesland without help.  I took the helm first with Tam watching over me. Lisa went forward with Di where she was given a lesson in handling the heavy mooring lines.  We spent two seasons on Tigre Rose going in and out of locks, and never knew how to properly use the bollards or throw the lines.  Thanks to Di’s patient instructions now we do.  After two days of gentle prodding and poking everyone was starting to feel pretty comfortable operating Friesland.  It was time for our test, and we both passed.  I was especially proud of Lisa as she really surprised everyone with how well she drove Friesland.  Rabelo will be a challenge, but I’m confident that she will catch on right away.

Lisa at the helm of Friesland.


Peter trying his luck at throwing a dock line.

This is why we want to return to the canals of France.

Di preparing one of her incredible lunches.

The four-hour drive back to Hotel Old Dutch flew by.  Lisa and I couldn’t stop talking about the wonderful course that Tam and Di ran.  They were both great teachers and Di was an amazing cook.  We decided to take the next day off and go to Keukenhof Gardens. The tulips were in bloom, and we have always wanted to see them.

Lots of tulips.

More tulips.

The guy that sold Lisa these shoes said they would help her run faster.

-Tom Miller
Author of “The Wave” – 
a Chuck Palmer Adventure novel


About the Author:

Tom Miller graduated from the University of Southern California with a Bachelor of Science in Geology. He is a consummate adventurer with over 1,000 dives as a recreational scuba diver, and an avid sailor who has traveled 65,000 miles throughout the Pacific including the Hawaiian Islands. Miller has also cruised the canals of Europe on his canal barge and given numerous lectures on cruising the canals of Europe, as well as sailing in the South Pacific. Piloting is also an interest of Miller's, and He has completed over 1,000 hours flying everything from small Cessnas to Lear jets.