Sunday, 27 July 2014

Saturday 26th July 2014 Helmond to Weert. 33.1kms 6 locks

Lock 9 and the old canal (still used by commercials) Helmond south
14.7° C. Rain overnight, roof and bike cover wet. Misty start, light clouds, sunny and hot with a light breeze later. Four cruisers set off from the moorings on the dot of eight, the last of them had navi lights on so Mike couldn’t resist saying it – you’ve got your lights on – yes, she said, I know, it's misty; so he retorted how fast are you going to go? – she didn’t follow his English sarcasm, visibility was at least 2kms if not more. We set off after Mike got all the pins out at 8.15 am. Turned right at the crossroads on to the new ringvaart around Helmond. We were overtaken by another cruiser and a wide short fishing boat style of steel boat. An
Silos and unloading quay below lock 11
empty called Let’s Go was moored at the end of the lock waiting area, washing down. We joined the queue for the lock. It was 9.30 am. The sun came out at 9.50 am. At 10.15 the lock gates opened and we went into the deep lock with seven cruisers and the fishing boat. Rose about 6m and followed the others out of the lock at 10.40 am. Away went the queue at around twice our speed. We ambled on to the junction with the old canal then on up to lock 10. On the long straight we could see the boats we’d locked up Helmond with were just leaving the top of lock 10 -
The last remaining lock houses. Lock 11. Mike on rope duty
before we’d even got there! We arrived below lock 10 at 11.30 am and Mike called on VHF Channel 18. The lock emptied, there was just us to go up a couple of metres in the new lock. Nearly midday when we set off for lock 11. The N279 continued to follow the right bank of the canal, hidden from view by tall reed beds, but we could hear the traffic noise. Two cruisers went past heading downhill. Surprise, lock 11 was empty, gates open and we’d got a green light. Below the lock was an unloading place at a silo, it had piles of sand but they were covered in a growth of grass. Into the lock, up and out in less than ten minutes! Four downhill cruisers went past in
Waiting below lock 12 for a bunch of cruisers
two groups of two. A commercial was in lock 12, the group in front had already cleared it. A loaded French péniche called Broomstick from Dunquerque went past heading downhill and we went into lock 12. Mike held the rope while we rose another 2m and I made some lunch. We moored below lock 13, which had a liftbridge at the tail end, it was empty with the gates shut and there were more cruisers coming up in the lock behind us so we had to wait for them. Ten minutes later the first cruiser was heading for the liftbridge and it opened as he got there so we followed him in, the remaining three cruisers arrived a few minutes later and we all rose
View from lock 12 back to lock 11
 and the cruisers we had to wait for
together a further 1.5m. It was 2.30 pm when we left the top. The cruisers did their usual 12kph+ and we motored on at our most energy-efficient 6.5kph. The passantenhaven at Neederweert, a small square offline basin with end on moorings at each side, was almost full. Most of the crews were sitting out in the sunshine, they waved as we passed by. On to the crossroads with the Noordervaart to our left (a dead end), the Wessem-Nederweert straight ahead (which leads to the the Maas at Maasbracht and the Juliana kanaal – the route we’ve always taken before) and the Zuid Willemsvaart continued to the right. We turned right, on to new waters (we’d never
In lock 15, old lock with offset gates - bottom end gates
been this way before) at 3.35 pm. The boats we’d locked with were below lock 15 still waiting. Mike called the keeper on Ch 20 and got a reply. A few minutes later the gates opened, two cruisers came out and we followed three of the four we’d locked up with in lock 13 into the 5m deep old brick chamber with offset gates of lock 15. Two of the cruisers took the right hand wall, one had gone right to the front on the left wall so we took the left wall. The lock filled from halfway along the right wall and the water came across
In lock 15, old lock with offset gates - top end gates
the chamber and forced us off the wall. Glad we’d got fore and aft ropes and not the single centre line we’d used with the previous five locks! We’ll know next time! I managed to haul the bows back to the wall so I could lift the rope up the recessed bollards. That was fun. There were two men in the lock cabin but both were so engrossed they didn’t speak and we noticed the lock had many cameras so it may have been remotely operated but was having problems. The cruisers hared off into the distance. It was 4 pm as we set off after them. There was a considerable flow on the canal,
Biesterbrug closed - a good quiet mooring.
around 1.5kph, so we were going slower than normal. At Weert, in the distance, we could see the two liftbridges we had to go through to get to the mooring we intended to use to stay on over Sunday. The cruisers went through the bridges but when we arrived at the first bridge Biesterbrug, it had double reds. They’d gone home! It was 4.30 pm. Looked in our ten year old Wateralmanak and found that on Saturdays they were open 7 -17 and closed Sundays! (That was wrong the bridges open on Sundays nowadays) We knocked pegs in on a section of new piling by some houses next to the bridge and settled down for the rest of the weekend. Gave Mike a hand to get the moped off the roof and he went to get the car from Helmond.

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