It’s another record! 16 bridges in 4 miles!

2nd August
We do not have far to go today, except to get closer to the railway station at Groningen so Ellie can get back to Schipol Airport! Our aim was the Oosterhaven Marina, which is very close to the centre of Groningen. It is on the eastern side of town, along side the Emms canal and very small. Phoning ahead we check there will be space for us!
We refuel at Reitdiep Marina before we leave, it is the only filling station before Delfzijl and I am concerned about fuel levels especially as the tank's gauge no longer seems to work….it is always full! However Grace seems to be continuing her very abstemious streak, burning just 40 litres of derv for 34 hours running, so a rate of 1.2 litres per hour! I also buy 3 lovely new big blue fenders to replace the one I lost! I strategically place two new ones at the bow, we look a bit like a bumper car but I feel more relaxed! I also buy a service kit for our Jabasco Sea Toilet as I watched a YouTube video on how to stop them squeaking and I am now convinced the joker valve needs replacing! It will be messy and I may even manage sink the boat if I build up enough courage to change it! It is amazing what rubbish people put on YouTube…..I've a few thoughts to add a few of my own!
We leave the Marina through its convoluted exit, from the bridge people watch just waiting for you to come a cropper! It feels very gladiatorial where the crowds are already have their thumbs down! We are now back in the Reitdiep and through the first of our city bridges. It is 1115 and we have 45 minutes before all the bridge keepers stop for their lunch.

Rafted up for lunch!

We make the next two bridge easily including a tramway bridge and we are a couple minutes from the next one, the Herman Colleniusbrug when our luck runs out! It is only 1150, all the bridge lights are off and people are moored up. There is nothing to be done but to raft up against a big motorboat, then have a pleasant chat to its skipper (who turned out to be a master of a big barge on his holidays!) while he advised me to get a move on through the bridges and have lunch!
Promptly at 1300 a man appears on his bike and opens the bridge. There really is no point in rushing to the next bridge as the bridge keeper will have to close this one, hop on his bike and go to the next one! We continue through the centre of town, it is very pretty and we only have one sticky moment with the canal wall while I test the strength and durability of one of my new fenders! Fortunately it survives, although a bit scuffed and slightly flattened!
Views of the canals of Groningen

We always seemed to end up in people's photos!

At the junction with the Emms canal three major canals meet, either taking you up to Aachen and Germany or out to Delfzijl and the sea. It is here that we meet a big barge heading for Germany, chaos ensues, horns are sounded, much engine revving occurs as the barge attempts a 90 degree turn surrounded by yachts and motorboats. I am too much of a coward to do battle with him and retreat out of his way. In this case, discretion really is the better part of valour! We miss the bridge opening but are in one piece and are safely moored to the waiting pontoon. Time for tea and ginger cake!

A bit of rope throwing practice while we wait for the bridge!

Just 3 more bridges and we are at the Marina. Going slowly past we are hailed by the harbour master with a megaphone. She gives us and in fact anyone else passing detailed instructions about where and how we should tie up. The place is just a few pontoons and posts on the side of the canal but it is a great location. Our berth, 43 is very small and tight but we can worry about how to get out of it in a couple of days when the wet and windy weather has passed!

The hafenmeister's megaphone, she and it are famous across Holland, we have run into a couple of boats who have benefited from her advice!

Toilets in marinas vary considerably, in the last month we have had luxury ones with baths and views, floating ones, underwater ones, just plain grim ones but these are a bit special! They are completely communal ones, toilets and showers and in the middle of it all, the washing machines, so you can always be assured of an audience!

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