Well, in cold wet conditions we travelled 30 kilometres or so along the Dortmund – Ems to the 108km mark, where a right turn took us onto the Mittelland Kanal. Another 30 saw us arrive at the night’s stop: peaceful calm countryside still raining, of course.

The Mittelland Kanal was a miniature highway, as a continual flow of boats moved in both directions.

Passing the slower craft proved challenging and slow as a result of the suction created by their bow waves.

It was also beware the barge captain who increases speed as you reach the half – way point in passing! Unable to make way, Gratis had to be slowed in order to slip back behind. In doing this, a pint was reached where the forces were so great that she was dragged along in the vacuum which was created. It was only by carrying out bursts of throttle in a mix of fast, slow, reverse, forward thrusts that Gratis was released from the momentary prison to then slip behind once more.

Drama over, it was a case of sit behind the wretched barge at snail’s pace, for the helmsmen reduced his engine to his original speed…….