My Travel Blog

We did it! We’re free!

Scott and I made it back to the boat after another successful trip to the patisserie and market.   Captain Jan was aboard, but Wilco had taken the train back to Bergen op Zoom to get his car. If and when we are able to move we will use Rabelo’s crane to hoist the car on deck, and carry it with us.  Unfortunately I have this feeling that we could be stuck here a long time, but at least we will have a car to drive to the market.

Scott and I are making dinner and all of a sudden Rabelo shudders.  What’s going on?   We look out the large window in the galley and the ice all around us is moving.   And then we see it.  There is a 330ft barge passing not 10 feet from us.  It is beginning to slow.  It’s going to dock directly in front of us.  What incredible luck. If we can follow the barge tomorrow morning when it leaves we just might make it to the lock.

Wilco returns late with the car and we decide to load it in the rain just incase the barge ahead of us decides to leave early in the morning.

Hooking up Wilco’s car to load onto Rabelo.

Loading Wilco’s car onto Rabelo.

We did it.  We’re free.  We actually made it out.  I thought that all of Europe was one solid block of ice.  With the rain last night the ice was much softer. We got up early only to see barge after barge going by.   We didn’t wait for the barge parked ahead of us.  We backed into the channel just as another barge named Erone went by.  We managed to stay close on her heels all the way to the lock.

Close on the heels of Erone.

When we arrived the lock was filling with water, so we asked Erone if we could side tie to them.

Getting ready to side tie to Erone.

It was a good thing we did.  When it was time to enter the lock Eros told us to stay tied up so they could tow us in.  There was so much ice in the lock we never would have made it.  Some of it was over a foot thick.

Being towed into lock by Erone. Note how thick the ice is and the green lights telling us it is safe to enter the lock.

Wilco started up a conversation with the friendly crew of Erone.  The woman that was driving this huge barge turned out to be the cousin of Mrs. Deprez, the former owner of Rabelo.  The barging community is very compact, and many of the captains are women.

We have now been traveling for four hours and have not seen a block of ice.  I don’t understand what happened, but I’m not going to complain.  Our next stop is Liege where we will fill up with fuel and water.  This stretch of the Meuse River is very industrialized and not very pretty.  I can’t wait to get back to the small canals of France.

Narrow tunnel ahead.


Sometimes we get a little close when passing on these small canals.


-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.