Anticipation turns to dread as engine fails

Setting off from Pijnacker in the Netherlands on our next European adventure on such a rainy and miserable day should have dampened our spirits but we set off full of excitement and anticipation.

It really was a filthy day when we set off

Less than half an hour later we were feeling more anxious than excited and the anticipation was more a like a feeling of dread.

As we were were driving down the freeway towards Belgium our camper van’s engine lost power and started to “miss”.

On our way to Bruges but would we get there?

We entered a road tunnel terrified that the engine was going to die altogether. Jonathan changed down through the gears hoping to find a stopping place. The engine stalled briefly but thankfully it started again and we crawled along in first gear with our hazards on at ten kilometres an hour.

I was worried that with all the traffic whizzing along at high speed we would cause an accident but luckily we must have been spotted on traffic cam as suddenly signs flashed up to say the lane we were in was closed and we crawled along in splendid isolation.

Fortunately there was a petrol station straight after the tunnel and after we filled up we had a little test run round the car park. It seemed that the van would only go so fast in each gear – we thought that maybe the turbo had gone but we discovered later that the onboard computer limits the speed in each gear when it recognises something is amiss with the engine, thereby avoiding collateral damage.

So we limped on in the pouring rain to our first stop in Bruges and arrived at our campsite just in time for dinner with our yachting friends Sara and Chris who were wintering over in Bruges on their beautiful canal barge “Pelican”.

We made it!
Sara shows us round the handsome Pelican

We had first met Sara and Chris on the Sail to Indonesia Rally in 2015 and last met the day they sold their Lagoon 420 catamaran in Malaysia in 2017.

Chris on the good ship Pelican

It was great to catch up with them again and see their beautiful new vessel.

The dining area with windows that open up to the rear deck
Pelican’s wheelhouse

The following day we contacted the Ford dealers in Bruges and for the second time since we bought our van ended up sleeping in the van parked on the forecourt of a Ford dealership.

Back at another Ford dealership

We were stuck in Bruges for four days while the van was repaired under warranty (the fuel injectors needed replacing for the second time). I must admit there are worse places to get stuck in!

It was a pleasant walk into the city from where Pelican was moored
One of the four remaining mills (out of 23 in the 16th Century) on the city walls
Watching a boat go through the canal lock in Bruges
These moules were absolutely heavenly
The iconic bell tower in Bruges
The horses waiting patiently for their next group of tourists
A magnificent chandelier – in a patisserie!
The fabulous coloured canal-side houses
A swing bridge about to open to let barges through
One of the city gates in Bruges

While we were there we did lots of sightseeing including a canal trip round the ancient city. We also had an excellent lunch of that delicious Belgian speciality – mussels – with Chris and Sarah.

Papageno, the Bird catcher from Mozart’s The Magic Flute, which stands in front of the Royal Concert Hall in Bruges
Another view of that famous belfry
The market square taken from the Historium Exhibition building
Another view of the market square

It was great to be back on the road again once the repairs had been made and off we went again with our spirits only slightly dampened.

The canal trip around Bruges was very worthwhile and interesting
The canal trip was a great way to see the amazing architecture of Bruges

The famous towers of Bruges
Bruges is just so photogenic!

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Salty tales from Bali Hai

In 2015, after a break from cruising of almost 30 years, my husband and I sailed off into the sunset - this time to the wonderful Islands of Indonesia and beyond. Three years passed and we swapped sails for wheels driving through Scandinavia and Europe in a motor home. Now we are on the brink of another adventure - buying a Lagoon 420 Catamaran in Athens. This is our story.

4 thoughts on “Anticipation turns to dread as engine fails”

  1. Hi Dot and Jonathan
    Great tales Dot – always read them with great relish. Looking forward to the next installment!


  2. Hi Dot&Jonathan!

    I have a photo of Cath&I on a canal boat in Bruges from fifty years ago!

    I’m sending you greetings from Rio, where we’re visiting Jack, girlfriend Talita and her family. We’re also celebrating George and my birthdays!!


    1. Hi Sally

      Thank you for all your lovely blog comments! Wow how exciting to be visiting Rio – it must have been a wonderful reunion to see Jack again after such a long separation. Looking forward very much to catching up soon and hearing all about it. Did Jackie mention meeting up in Beckenham next Wednesday?! We haven’t confirmed it yet but am hoping it will work out.

      We have just arrived in England and have spent the last two nights in Norfolk with Jonathan’s brother. Off to Devon tomorrow for my nephew’s wedding on Saturday.

      Belated happy birthday and hope to see you soon xxxx



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