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Sunday, 21 July 2013

Trip to Belgium and France – Day 11

Up in the morning, and after breakfast hung around the boat waiting for the call to go down to the car decks. There was an announcement that unloading would be delayed due to 'passport checks', but that turned out to be a bit of an understatement.
Eventually we were called down to the car decks, untied our bikes, and waited..... and waited.....
After an unusually long time for unloading a ferry, some of the cars started moving, but it was very 'stop and start' until we eventually got off, only to join a long queue.
One of the dock staff signalled the bikes up one side of the queue and I made my way up towards the 'UK Immigration'. However, nothing seemed to be moving and we waited.... and waited.....
Occasionally we moved forwards about 1 bike length, but we just sat there getting hotter and hooter.
A strange incident happened about 4 or 5 bikes ahead of me. I could see a couple on a BMW RT waiting in the queue. One minute they are in the queue and the next time I look the bike is on its side and they are lying on the ground. The rider picked the bike up, but it must have been running in gear as when the tyre touched the ground it jumped forward. It was hard to see, but I think it hit the side of one of the cars. A large group of people gathered around the bike, it was eventually picked up, but I've no idea of what happened. All of this delayed the queue even more.
Eventually I got to the front of the queue to find that every passport was being checked (despite being checked twice before we got on), all motorcyclist had to remove their helmets to check they matched their photos, and all caravans and campervans (there were a lot of these) were being searched. I'd noticed on board that the ferry had a capacity of 1000 passengers, and how many Immigration officers were doing the checking – two! Yes, two!
When we'd arrived in Belgium we were just waved out of the docks and onto the main road (after all, our passports had been checked on the way on), but coming back into Britain we're confronted with a Third World type checkpoint! Welcome home.
After that it was a fairly easy, dry, and unremarkable 5 – 6 hour ride home. During the trip I'd covered 2082 miles / 3350 km, and the bike had almost behaved itself impeccably. I say almost because on about the 3rd or 4th day I'd noticed that my 'overheating' light had come on in town. A quick check found that the fans weren't operating due to a blown fuse. Once replaced, the light only came on once or twice, and then only in the heaviest traffic. Can't really complain – the fans came on more in one day in France than they do in a year at home, so the fuse wasn't used to that amount of work!

Some of the bikes were at one end of the ferry.

While the rest of us were on a raised 'ramp'

Song of the Day:

1 comment:

  1. The bike that got knocked over: someone in a car decided that they didn't like all the bikes riding past and 'skipping the queue' so opened their car door to stop them. Unfortunately, they opened it right in front of the BMW who hit the door and dropped the bike. Needless to say people had an opinion on this!