Monday, 28 July 2014

Sorry! I missed this posting out! Tuesday 22nd July 2014 Arkel to Den Bosch. 41.1kms 4 locks

Grote Merwedesluis at Gorinchem
18.0°C Heavy rain in the night, hazy sunshine first thing then hot later with a nice breeze. Winded and set off into Gorinchem at 8.00 am. Several cruisers went past heading towards Arkel as we arrived at the Kerkhofsluis where there were new traffic lights. We presumed that the single amber light meant no commercials were coming and we carried on through the open flood lock and down to the Grote Merwedesluis. Mike called the keeper and he opened the lock gates and lifted the bridge (one we couldn’t get under). Just us
Heading out on to the Rhine branch called the Wal,
here called Boven Merwede
in the lock and we dropped down about 15cms on to the level of the Wal, here called the Boven Merwede, (the main channel of the Rhine which has no locks in the Netherlands and runs straight out to sea via Dordrecht and Rotterdam). Mike lowered our mast to get under the other liftbridge and we set off towards the Big River. It was 8.45am as we turned left going upstream following an empty called Natal, who was blue-boarding (indicating that he was going the “wrong” side) heading for the bunkerstation on the left bank for fuel, (all the other
Traffic on the Boven Merwede
upstream traffic was on the far side of the river running closer to the right bank). River traffic was busy, as it always is, with a big tug pushing two large empty pans heading downriver overtaking several loaded boats, while a fast river taxi was going from Gorichem old haven to various places on the far bank and making quite a bit of wash. We kept to the left side of the river as no one takes much notice of where pleasure boats go as long as they keep out of the way of the commercial traffic. Mike reckoned the flow on the river
Guillotine floodgates at the end of Van Heusden's kanaal
was about 3 to 4kph. The water taxi went past again and a couple of Waterways tugs went past making the river very lumpy for a while which causes the boat to “corkscrew” - a very unpleasant sensation, fortunately it didn’t last long. Two cruisers went past hugging the left bank until they were almost opposite Woudrichem before crossing the river to the right bank. We waited for a craneboat to pass us heading downstream, then we set off across the river heading for a gap after two upriver loaded boats. More traffic was coming
Wilhelminasluis, sloping sided chamber
upriver behind them and we were soon overtaken by a 3,000 tonne load of coal. We kept close to the right bank but well away from the groynes which stick out into the river, the ends of which have water swirling from them and sloping sandy beaches between them. The big ferry boat from Woudrichem to Gorinchem was just setting off as we arrived at the junction with the Afgedamde Maas. A cruiser followed the ferry across the river. It was 9.30 am as we passed the haven full of moored masted tjalks and another full of converted Dutch barges. The
Wilhelminasluis, sloping sided chamber
water was quieter and had less flow. There was no sign of the two cruisers that had overtaken us or the empty boat that had come downriver and turned into the Maas just before we did. There were lots of commercials moored by the silos to the left of the lock entrance for Wilhelminasluis. An empty 47m boat called Semper-Spera had just left the lock so Mike gave the lock a call, didn’t understand the answer and it was in English, sort of. When we got there we could see the two cruisers that had overtaken us on the Wal
Couldn't believe my eyes when I looked at this picture,
it's a helicopter gunship coming up behind us at low level!!!
were waiting for the lock. The gates opened and another empty came out followed by three cruisers. Into the lock with the two cruisers and a yacht that had caught us up. Wilhelminasluis is a large sloping sided lock with wooden baulks to tie to. Its gates closed very, very slowly and we had plenty of time to look at the shell covered bottom of the lock as the water was so clear. We dropped down a mere 10cms (I was expecting the water level to rise). After leaving the lock we tied on the very end of the baulks and Mike connected the Markon drive so that I could do some washing. Set off again five
In Engelen sluis
minutes later. Mike put the brolly up to dry it out as it was still wet from yesterday’s rain. A few minutes later a helicopter took off from the riverbank behind us and came swooping slowly up the river and went directly over us about twenty feet up. The downdraft took half the cover off the brolly! Fortunately it didn’t break any of the ribs and Mike was able to put it back together, however, we’d lost the two cords with hooks that we use to hold it down to the handrails, will have
Lady making hard work of locking,
rope round lockside bollard and back round bollard on deck!
to make some new ones. The river below the lock, which was now called the Andelse Maas, was wide and deep and lined with moorings, boatyards and shipbuilders, houses and holiday homes. People were swimming in the edges or lying on the sandy beaches, walking dogs or cycling along the dyke road up above the navigation. A cable ferry was working hard taking cars and bikes across from Veen to Aalst and vice versa. The old Maas continued in a dead end arm to our left while we continued on the Heusdens Kanaal which links with the Bergse Maas. Under a guillotine floodgate and turned left with a bunch of cruisers. It was 12.30 pm. Going upstream on the Maas was slow going
Below lock 0 in Den Bosch - the keeper waited for us.
with the generator running. An empty 85m boat overtook us then blue-boarded round a left hand bend. A loaded container boat, a pusher pair, came downriver keeping as far to the outside of the bend as it could, “wrong” siding around the bend. Above Heusden there was a five kilometre ski zone and, although there were no water-skiiers, there were plenty of high speed motor boats zapping up and down, turning the water very choppy. Mike had the sunshade up and was having trouble with the
Rival in lock 0 Den Bosch.
wind dipping the front left hand corner so he wedged a short boat shaft diagonally across to hold it up. That was OK for a while until the wind gusted and flicked the shaft overboard! Because we’d still got the drive connected he couldn’t over-rev it so we went back to pick it up slowly in reverse. A Belgian boat loaded with containers, called Thiakita from Gent, overtook us just before the junction with the canalised river Dienze and we turned right to follow him up the Dienze. Came to a stop below the lock at Engelen where the Belgian had moored to wait for the lock and we joined a queue of cruisers and a small tug. Three commercials came out of the lock and
Rival leaving lock 0 Den Bosch
the Belgian went in, followed by a péniche called Rival loaded with gravel who tied alongside the Belgian. More and more cruisers arrived, we’d got the tug and two cruisers in front of us, one behind us, one hanging alongside us and three behind the commercials and there was still masses of room left in the lock for more! We rose 2m slowly then slowly we left the lock in a crocodile lead by the two commercials. Two more were waiting to come down, Mea Vota and Pia. On into Den Bosch. Past more moorings and commercial quays. Under a railway bridge decorated with woven sides. By some trip boat
Moored above lock 0 in Den Bosch
moorings next to a Gamma DIY shop stood the first Mosque we’d seen in a long time. Past the two havens for pleasure boats and Mike lowered our mast to get under the lift bridges on the narrow section of canal leading to lock 0, the first lock on the Zuid Willemsvaart. We could see the two commercials were still going into the huge odd-shaped lock so Mike increased speed to see if we could get there before the keeper closed the gates behind them. Rival seemed to be taking ages to get into the banana-shaped lock, which made it easy for us to catch up. The lock keeper was leaning out of his lock cabin and I shouted thank you to him for keeping the gates open for us (the liftbridge had gone down but we could easily get under that). Tied on the left behind the Belgian and we rose 2.6m. Mike asked the keeper if we could moor above the lock and he said OK, go on the right. The designated area for sport boats was short and filled with boats. A commercial was moored right on the end of the sport boat moorings and a cruiser beyond him, so we winded and moored beyond the cruiser. It was 4.45 pm. Gave Mike a hand to get the bike off, easy as the quay is almost cabin height, and he went to collect the car from Jutphaas.

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