The Journey – Day 56 – May 26th

Yesterday I spent the afternoon wandering around the town of Straubing after sorting the Banana out and stopping blood coming out of my finger.  I caught up on some sleep and did a bit of tourism and some filming of the town.  There is a huge car park, free to all which is also used for the towns festivals.  I decided not to park there for the night as the local hot rods use it as a race track, driving around without an exhaust to attract young women who are not interested in idols posing in a resprayed banger with Abba blasting from open windows.

Although here it is more like Porches that are making the racket with real engines one board.  I found a quiet car park near a holiday park and had a good night’s sleep for a change.

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The Journey – Day 55 – May 25th

The day started about four hours too early this morning.  I was awake most of the night listening and surveying the idiots who got out of the rain to practice laughing at nothing at all, running around throwing beer at each other and attempting to grow a hangover.  I went down the bank to the Banana and found it in good order.  There were two main things to do.  One launch it, the other get it around the pillar of the bridge which came down almost directly into the lock wall.

The ‘hydrofoil’ was hooked on the stones and partly on a step , so it could not easily be pushed out into the lock.  This was a good plan which worked well, except I needed to push it into the lock and take it to the waiting ship.  Surprisingly my idea to leaver it into the water with the paddles I have worked first time, no problem at all.  I pulled the Banana around towards the bank and towed it along towards the bridge.

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The Journey Day 54 – May 24th

The motorhome would not start this morning, the batteries are all nearly completely depleted.  I linked the 12v outboard motor batteries to the motorhome and started the engine.  The batteries for the little electric motor are charged by a solar panned in the window of the motorhome, howeve I have been using them to run a transformer to keep the equipment charged up.  This is a power wasteful system but it works.  The problem is that the batteries are soon depleted and take a long time to be recharged.

I connected them to start the engine then left them connected to be charged in turn by the alternator.  I decided that today would be mostly used in getting the domestic arrangements sorted out.  I need gas, diesel, water, internet, toilet emptying, batteries charging and fresh drinking water.  I have no choice about the washing, I am down to my last underwear and the socks that have accumulated in a carrier bag are becoming a health hazard.

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The Journey Day 53 – May 23rd

Spent most of the day on the lookout for a ship which did not come.  Maybe Monday is not a good day for shipping.  I pulled the Banana on the quay, and repaired the damage to the tow ropes.  Whoever cut the ropes had done it quickly, with a very sharp knife.  Clean cuts with no sawing, all done at the top of the bank and fortunately it did not occur to them their knife would have destroyed the Banana in seconds.

They must have known I was not far away and were probably afraid of being caught.  I braided another length of rope into the original ropes and made good the temporary repairs done in the lock.  I also attached another tow rope onto the two internal tow rings to ensure that if the original system came undone again the secondary would hold.

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The Journey Day 52 – May 22nd

Last night I parked the motorhome legally; as near to the Banana as possible, but too far away to survey it.  This morning I found the Banana half in the water, all the ropes cut and strewn around.  Someone with a sharp knife left me a message not to shine torches in their faces whilst they are having fun banging on a motorhome.  Fortunately, my punishment was just cutting the ropes and not slashing the Banana.  This probably was due to the fact that when the ropes were cut the Banana would have slipped further into the water and became more dangerous to go near.

I made the Banana secure once again and went back to the motorhome.  As I left the quay another ship glided into the lock without slowing.  The old ship that spent two days at the quay had left; leaving behind one of its mooring ropes that had clearly come to the end of its life and its shredded remains were left hanging on the moorings.

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The Journey Day 47 ’till 50

The book will be full of details about the trip along the Main Danube canal, but time to write it here is not available.  I simply have to sort domestic things out like shopping and getting washing done.

The voyage along the canal was full of locks and aqueducts, river bank views of life ashore with occasional glimpse into the river cruise ships with their uniformed waiters standing to attention waiting for any command from guests.  They in turn were seemingly dying to wave at anyone who would wave back, which I was happy to do for them.

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The Journey Day 46, May 16th

Up, showered and dressed before the first cruise ship came through the lock.  I had stood bare foot on the transformer which reminded me that all my equipment needed charging, most of it needing 240v which I now no longer had.  I went back to the town and went to the bar.  They had no internet (available for me) and suggested going to the restaurant; which I did.

Their internet was limited, so I used my tablet to send some basic messages, drank my coffee and went to the snack bar.  They were watching a Chinese soap whilst cleaning and preparing for customers that didn’t come.  I ordered chicken and chips for breakfast and set up a multi socket full of little transformers to charge my phones, razor, camera battery and all.  Conversation with then was almost impossible.

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The Journey Day 45

I walked to the ship in the cold, damp, dark dawn and took up my position in the wheel house.  As the sun came up a very familiar countryside of neat villages and wooded gentle hillsides was reviled.  Lock after lock took the ship higher and higher every half hour or so until Bamberg came into view.

Stadt Wurzburg was tied up in front of the Port de Mar.  No one was on board and the crane was in position to lift their car back on the ship when their trip to town was over.  The crew got ready to leave; cleaning everything for the new crew coming on board soon.

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The Journey Day 44 – May 14th

4:45 came far too early!  I tortured myself out of bed, got my bits and pieces together and walked across the car park to the waiting boat as the engines started to fire up and the crew busied with the preparations for getting underway.

I put my main camera on board and set myself up in the wheel house, trying to keep out of the way.  Before I realised the ship slipped away from the quay and, as the lock was open, we slowly edged through the tiny opening.  At 12m wide it was a tiny aperture because the ship was 11.75m wide.

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The Journey – Day 43

Day 43 – May 13, Friday

 Stadt Wurtzburg

Friday the 13th actually turned out to be a lucky day for the Banana Voyage.  Sitting in the motorhome, listening to the rain, writing up notes and drinking far too much coffee, I did not hold out too much hope of getting a tow out of the Lock at Harrback.  The events of the day before had left the Banana on the grass at the top of the Lock, the place that ships pass as they build up speed to get out of the channel and into the full flowing river; not a place to stop and pick up a hitch hiking Banana.

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