European Boat-MAN – Part 2

Monday 11th January – Woke up at 0730, two other trucks, low loaders, had arrived in the night ready for a busy and cold day loading. I’m up and dressed and start on setting up the truck with timbers etc, ready for my loading spot. Crane rocks up at 0800, gets set up and is on with loading the German registered Glogau Yacht transport R730. These are some seriously sized boats going out today, 5m wide and upwards of 13m length! It takes them longer to get out of the gate than to actually crane the boats on. A Polish low loader is up next, another 5m wide and super long boat loaded and another 20 minutes to get out the yard. I get the go ahead to come in and get in position by half 9, loaded and secured down by half 10, all going well so far. We’re 3m wide and 4.3m high so the marker boards and beacons go on, now it’s just the usual waiting around all day for them to finish their last jobs on the boat. Meanwhile my next important job is swapping alcohol with my polish electrician mate, Grappa for him and Vodka for me! Time ticks by but, unbeliveably and also unprecedented, I get the green light to leave by midday, so just an hour to wait for my 24h to finish and then on my merry way at 13:30. Being Convoy Cat 1, there aren’t too many rules to hinder my journey, unlike the German and Polish low loaders who are running at cat 2 and 3, they will have to wait until 22:00 to leave, have escorts and a whole host more regulations to adhere to. I run up to exactly 4h30 just  into Germany, take a quick break then carry on west to the AS24 just before Hannover. I’m heading Belgium and Paris way on the return leg, as its ever so slightly quicker. With just over an hour left on a 9hr drive, I keep on and make it to an Autohof (the only places in Germany with space at that sorta time) on exactly 9hrs drive! Its 23:30 now, so straight to bed for me. 738Km done.

Tuesday 12th January – 0800 and up, I wander into the Autohof to make use of the facilities. I pay for the privilege of a space to park and at a cost of 14 euro for just 9 hours, I don’t feel like i’ve had a bargain, but needs must I suppose. Its absolutely pissing down and I set off at half 8. I make my way down to Wuppertal and across to Dusseldorf, avoiding traffic at Cologne. Heading down the 44 now, I clear Germany at Aachen and i’m into Belgium. I make it past Liege and pull up on 4h28. (as you can tell, I don’t like to waste minutes and with the least amount of stopping as possible!) I’m heading for Paris now, but its early evening so its not an ideal time for the worst city in europe traffic wise. I pick up some more diesel in Vemars Total, the last services on the A1 before gay Paris. I had thought about staying here for the night but, its rammed at half 5. I head on and use the A104, finding space in a services, luckily! Its half 6 and i’m on 8H45 and i’ve covered 702km today.

Wednesday 13th January – I’m doing well for time this week so I take an 11h break and i’m up and on the road at 0530. I continue around the 104, then pick up the a4 into Paris as the traffic is still pretty quiet. A86, A6, past Rungis and I’m clear of Paris within an hour. I run out my 4 and a half and pull in just north of Poitiers on 4h25. I chill out for 45 minutes and then do a further 1hr30, stopping for some lunch. Out the corner of my eye I spot a tudor services Merc parked up in a services south bound on the a10, then via FB later see it was in fact the owner himself en route to spain and being questioned by the gendarmes! Other than that brief excitment, its a very quiet and boring drive between Paris and Bordeaux. There is no traffic at Bordeaux again and I run my time out as far I can get to Spain. It runs out at the last services before the border and I’m on 9h56 driving time. I make use of the car bays again as it’s a tad busy being evening in a french services. Good quiet day and 842Km covered.

Thursday 14th January – Still doing really well on time and also as we’re not able to arrive in Lisbon until friday morning, I take another 11hours off. I’m across the border at Irun again in the dark, no police at all this time and pull in for diesel at the as24. I do 2 hours more, which gets me to Miranda do Ebro, I stop for a break and take some pictures as its particularly cold and snowy here! By chance, while I was up in Poland, they had another disruptive amount of snow but I’ve managed to skirt it again! The rest of the morning is almost all in freezing fog, it takes a long time for the sun to make it through the clouds and finally at 11:30 it actually feels like day time! I make it to the As24 by Salamanca on 3h47 for the last fuel stop. I have a bite to eat and start the last 4h to home. Unfortunately, now the sun is up and burnt through the clouds, I’m driving straight into it for the duration of the last leg, which really plays havoc with in cab temperatures and also ones eyes! All good though, PT-ES border crossed without worry and just the hilly, absolutely dead road down to home. I park the truck just near the house at 17:15, on a respectable 9hr38 drive, 826km. Its 15 degrees down here, so a walk with the Wife and the dog, a bbq to follow and its time for bed. 

Friday 15th January – I’m up and away down to Lisbon at 03:30, arriving in the Marina just after 5am, Lisbon like most cities, has a curfew for abnormal loads and only permits them into the city between midnight and 6am. I found out the hard way that they do enforce it, so I follow that rule now! There are no cars blocking the entrance this time and the security guard is on hand to open the gate for me. I catch a couple of hours more sleep, and wake up at 8. Unfortunately I can already see that the tide is on its way out, which means that unloading the boat is going to be delayed somewhat. My fears are confirmed and the boat is booked to be lifted off at higher tide circa 2pm. I spend some time having breakfast with the bosses and helping with some maintenance on the existing house boats we have down here and the time soon passes. Finally we get down to business, slightly later than planned but all goes well without any hitches. The new owners are there too, to watch their investment hit the water. I’ve had 9hrs off by now so I finish tidying up the truck, strap down and hit the road home. No dramas on the last stint, just under 2hrs back to the house including a quick stop for a new air duster and pressure gauge. I make it home just within daylight, a 9 day trip complete and not far off 7000km.      

Great 2 part blog thanks George @. Can never get enough of drivers diaries as I’m not out there doing my own. Please send another as and when you want to. Also if any of you readers are keen, then feel free to email me, long or short with some photos and I’ll happily publish them on TBUK.

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