My Travel Blog

The Rabelo Has A Captain At Last! The Travel Adventure Continues

We have been forced to move on.  With so much wind it was impossible to dock, and drop off the car.  The red and green street lights are really starting to drive me nuts.  Half the time they look just like the navigation lights on the other barges.  There is nothing worse than all of a sudden seeing a red light, or even worse a green light that looks like it is coming right at you.  Under normal situations boats always pass port to port, or on their left sides.  When you see a green light coming at you that means you are looking at the starboard side of the oncoming vessel or the right side.  Do I move further over to the right, or is he docking and I need to stay where I am?  Oh, the light just turned red.  It’s a streetlight… but maybe the next one will be a real barge. Who knew barge sailing could be so full of anxiety??

I leave Scott and captain Ian in the pilothouse while Wilco and I go down below to enjoy another one of Scott’s wonderful meals.  We were discussing all the work that Wilco has to do on Rabelo when he drops a real bomb.  He said it so oft handed that it took me a few of minutes to comprehend what he was really saying.  Wilco asked how my search for a captain was going.  I said I had a few applicants that looked promising, but that I had not made up my mind yet.  He said that if nothing works out he would do it.  I grated a little more Parmesan cheese over my pasta carbonara, and then it hit me.

“Wilco, are you saying you will take the job to help me out or because you would like to have it?  You have a wife and daughter.  You won’t be living at home.”

“No, I spoke with Marina (his wife) and she said it was okay.  I just need to come home every once in a while.  She doesn’t want me gone six weeks like my last delivery trip.  I would like the job.”

What a stroke of luck.  I’ve known Wilco for ten years.  He has all the qualities I was looking for, things like honesty, hard working, he speaks a number of languages, and he’s resourceful and smart.  Most important he is just a good guy to be around.   We discuss the economics and worked out some of the details like he could work five days on and go home for two days or he could work ten days straight and go home for four days.  I told him if he left Friday afternoon and came back by 9:00am Monday that would be fine with me.  He even said that because he would want a car to drive home we could use his car when he was on the boat instead of me having to lease a car.  I told Wilco I would speak to Lisa, but that I was sure she would be thrilled to have him as our captain.

The main engine that Wilco will have to maintain.

Generator, fuel tank and prop shaft that all need to be looked after.

We are back in the pilothouse and Wilco is calling the next lock.  He talks to the lock keeper in Dutch, and I haven’t a clue what they are talking about.  When they are done Wilco tells me we have to turn around.  We just past a Y in the river and we need to go the other way.  There is a place not far from here where we can spend the night and also drop off the car.  We find the empty dock.  The wind is still blowing, but there is some protection from all the equipment sitting on the dock.  I manage to dock Rabelo and we find a place between huge pieces of construction equipment where we can drop off the car so that Wilco can take Scott to the train at 5:00am.

The beautiful village of Honfleur just across the Seine from La Havre where we found rabelo.

The magnificent medieval city of Carcassonne.

A lockkeepers house and front yard. Most of the locks are automated, and no longer require lockkeepers. Many of these old homes have been rented by artists that sell their work to passing barges.

  -Tom Miller


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.