Friday, 15 August 2014

Friday 8th August 2014 La Louvière to Ville-sur-Haine. 11.2kms 1 boatlift.

Guillotine flood gate on new bypass canal around the 4 old lifts.
13.2°C Sunny start, after overnight heavy rain, grey clouds, then the rain started again. We set off at 10.15 am following the Snail back to the junction with the new canal that bypasses the four old lifts. 6 kms to the big new lift at Strèpy-Thieu. Under the new guillotine flood gate. The new canal is wide, deep and edged with sloping concrete and planted with trees which make it look like we’re travelling through parkland. We could see a pushtow in the distance – he’ll been down the lift well before we get there. I baked some part-cooked bread buns in the oven ready for lunch as we’d almost finished our first Belgian loaf. Over the aqueduct that
Behind a big Dutch cruiser in Strepy-Thieu
carries the canal across several roads, the view was too misty for photos as it had started to rain. Several large cruisers caught up and overtook, a German one from Wuppertal, two Dutch cruisers and a smaller Danish one was catching up. After a short wait above the tank two cruisers came up in the right hand caisson and then we all piled in after the three big cruisers and the smaller Danish one came in behind us. Plenty of room left over. (We’ve been in it in the
The Snail in Strepy-Thieu lift
past when we’ve had several commercials and a tripper and enough cruisers to fill the tank!) The keeper was taking boat names as we entered the caisson and no doubt he checked us all on his computer to make sure we were all logged in on the system before we set off down. OK and the motors powered up, sounding like a jet engine getting ready for take-off. In maybe ten minutes we’d descended 73m - the trip through the four old lifts used to take most of one day, if there were no breakdowns. It was pouring down when we set off again. The cruisers disappeared into the distance as we passed the new lock (now automatic) that takes boats up to the only
Going down!
(currently) working lift, no 4 Thieu. Two more cruisers went past heading for the lift. There is a long waiting quay below the new lock and not a single boat was moored there. A loaded push-towed pair, called Bibifoc and Flipper went past followed by a British cruiser called Paddington V whose skipper shouted “It’s English rain!” Mike said no, it’s American! (we’ve got the remains of hurricane Bertha coming across the Atlantic) We motored on a short distance and tied up at another long, deserted quay at Ville-sur-Haine, close to where there used to be a lock of the
Moored at Ville-sur-Haine in the pouring rain.
same name on the old canal before the lifts. We got soaked tying up and setting up the TV (no Wi-Fi). Made sandwiches for lunch then gave Mike a hand to get all his stuff together and unwrap the moped. The quay was high enough that he didn’t need a plank. He got kitted out in wellies and waterproof trousers, taking a pair of pumps with him to drive back in. Around 1.30 pm he went back to get the car. It was still pouring when he returned and we got wet again putting the bike back on the roof and covering it. Wet clothes and shoes everywhere, dripping on the front deck and in the shower. Oh the joys of boating in the rain!

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