Sunday, 10 August 2014

Monday 4th August 2014 Abv Ampsin to Sclayn. 22.6kms 1 lock

Collegiate church of Notre Dame in Huy and citadel behind it
18.3°C Sunny start with a few clouds and some drizzle. Mike and I went out in the car and bought two cans of diesel for the boat at 1,345€/litre, then went to get a few groceries from a Delhaize supermarket and paid by card! (We’ve been having to pay extra by paying in cash (withdrawal charges apply) for our shopping since we left Belgium last year as supermarkets and fuel stations in the Netherlands and Germany do not accept Visa) Asked in a branch of Expert electrical store about an Internet SIM but they had none. Into the town of Huy, we
The citadel at Huy
parked by the commercial centre and walked back to the main street and went in The Phone House, they had nothing try Mobistar across the road, they only offered Internet at 15€ a month for a year on contract (for which we’d need a Belgian bank account and we’re not staying that long anyway). Across the road was another independent phone seller and he said yes and produced a PAYG SIM from BASE with 2Gig for 15€/month and we had a 15€ topup – and paid by card again! Back home and Mike picked Oll up to go and get some diesel for the Snail.
Bridge at Huy
We set off at 1 pm heading upstream on the Meuse in light drizzle which thankfully didn’t last long. Passing the nuclear power station on our left and rows of moored commercials by another cement works, then an empty called Sakera went past heading downriver. A few minutes after that a high speed fishermen followed it in an open boat with a massive outboard engine. Passing on our left the shops and the garage that we’d been to by car earlier - and tree covered hills on the right, we headed upriver into Huy. There was a fairground spread out along the main road on the left and the Guignol theatre company of puppets was also in town. The magnificent medieval Notre Dame Collegiate church dominates the town with the citadel on the cliffs behind it.
Suspension bridge at Wanze by the sugar refinerie
Loaded Dutch péniche Mon Desir went past heading downstream near the Port de Statte and the suspension bridge at the big sugar refinerie in Wanze. Two big commercials were at the sugar works quay, Marie-Joseph (110m) was unloading and Libele (105m) was waiting its turn to unload. A cruiser went downriver as we passed the first big island in the river and another followed it ten minutes later. The tree covered hills were now on the left bank and houses all along the right. We paused on the wall below Andenne lock while
Moored at Sclayn
two large commercials came down. Mike said he’d heard the lock keeper on VHF radio remind the skipper of the first one that there was a small cruiser right in front of his bows! (What do the skippers of pleasure craft think they are doing when they go into locks in front of commercials, don’t they realise that unless there is a camera on the bows of his boat the skipper of the big boat just can’t see them!) Once they’d cleared the chamber we followed a big empty commercial, 110m Romania-G into the chamber, he went straight up to the top end gates and we stayed well back in the huge chamber. Bollards were far too far apart to use two ropes so I put the centre rope around one and Mike stood on the roof to control the rope as we rose 5m while I made a cuppa. 
As we left the lock there was more downhill traffic and we took the right hand side of a small island which wasn’t marked as navigable on our charts (but was over 6m deep) as loaded Wilina went past through the right hand arch of the bridge (on our side, not his!). There was a large flock of Canada geese together with Egyptian geese and the first sandpipers we’d seen in ages flew off in front of the boat as we came into Sclayn. We tied up where Spoetnik’s fuel barge and bunkerships used to be at 5.40 pm and now there were no mooring signs which no one had taken any notice of. Mike didn’t go back for the car, he said he’d go and get it the following day.

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