Plans in Jelly

Cruising in 2015

Planning for cruising in a barge can be essential – but should be worthless.

As a fellow bargee recently quipped “just keep your plans set in jelly and you’ll be fine”. It’s often necessary to have some idea of where you are going, and how long it will take to get there, so you know exactly how much of the rest of your time can be spent dawdling elsewhere.

We know we will start in Groningen, NL at the start of July and want to end up somewhere in Belgium (yet to be finalised) at the end of September. Once we have booked somewhere for winter 2015/16, that will be definite. However, we can make a pretty good guess/wish if we say that we will end up in Bruges (for the English and French) or Brugge (for the Dutch) or nearby.

Bargees use a variety of means to plan trips, but a commonly used tool is PC Navigo. Not cheap, but very comprehensive. Also good as a navigation tool. Into it we enter the dimensions of ‘Neo Vita’; an estimate of average cruising speed; our preferred cruising hours/days; and start and end point. It will automagically  generate a route which our barge can navigate. Then we are able to customise this route by selecting options such as the ‘fastest’ or ‘shortest’ or ‘tourist’ route, and specify places we wish to go to, or that we want to avoid. Then it refines the plan.

The Plan

So, this is the ‘plan in jelly’ we get at the moment :

Groningen (NL) to Brugge (BE) - tourist route by PC Navigo

Groningen (NL) to Brugge (BE) – tourist route by PC Navigo

A useful number is how many days this cruise will take, uninterrupted. If we take that number away from the total time available, and make some allowances for startup and shut down, we can then determine roughly how much ‘wobble’ is in the plan.

Thus we find that PC Navigo tells us the cruise will take 20 days, uninterrupted. Allowing ten more for start up and winterising at the end, and seven days for a side trip to Bavaria (not by barge!), that makes 37 days allocated out of a total available of 83. This means there are 46 ‘dawdling’ days for the 20 spent actually cruising. About two days loitering for each day travelling. Perfect!

While we haven’t quite settled on the naming of this year’s cruise, last year we used “Finding ‘Neo Vita'”, so perhaps this year it might be “Returning ‘Catharina Elisabeth'”.