Thursday, 7 August 2014

Saturday 2nd August 2014 Panheel to below Yvos-Ramet lock. 81.5kms 4 locks

Crossing the river Maas. Early morning quiet.
17.2°C Light cloud first thing, sunny and very hot again. Up very early and left at 6.50 am heading gently down to the lock. Nothing much was stirring. Both locks at Panheel had double red lights. At 7 am (lock opening time) the lights on the smaller lock (left) turned to single red and we headed in that direction. Then the lock lights on the big lock changed to red/green and the gates opened as the commercial nearest to it, an empty called Falkland, fired up his engine, untied, and went into the lock. We followed him. I put our centre rope around a floater and Mike sat on
Needs no explanation
the roof keeping control of it while I had some breakfast and did some chores. Dropped down 7.8m and followed the commercial out of the lock at 7.25 am. Ventura, with a strange load of small open steel boats, was heading for the small lock chamber followed by a couple of wedge shaped cruisers. More empty commercials were moored below the lock and by the first bridge. On down the rest of the canal to the junction with the Maas, straight across and on to the start of the Julianakanaal. Mike called Maasbracht lock
In Maasbracht lock. Start of Julianakanaal
on VHF and was told to use the middle chamber. A cruiser appeared, probably from moorings in the lakes at the end of the Wessem-Neederweert canal, and followed us into the lock, there was already one cruiser in the chamber. We put fore and aft ropes through the metal loops on the floaters and rose gently 13m. The expensive looking boat that had followed us into the lock was called The Gambler and had Monte Carlo written on the side at the stern, but on the back of it it had Maastricht as its home port. Hmm. The two cruisers
In Born lock. Julianakanaal
were soon out of sight. At the first bridge we passed Voorwaarts loaded with very smelly woodchip. Fishermen were enjoying their weekend sport at Echt. On the long section to Born locks I did some catching up on the log as I hadn’t written it up the night before. 2.5kms before Born we were overtaken by a commercial and a cruiser so Mike called on VHF and the lady keeper said OK keep coming and held the lock for us. We saw the cruiser go into the
Floater in Born lock. Julianakanaal
chamber and we were eight minutes behind him after Mike wound the revs on until we were doing 9kph. Into the middle chamber again, fore and aft ropes on floaters, rose another 11m. Neither the commercial, an empty called Jolanda, nor the cruiser stopped their engines in the lock. The commercial took his ropes off when the lock was still 3m from being full and drifted gently backwards down the chamber. Left the top at 10.35 am. Tea and buttered currant buns for early elevenses that felt like lunchtime! An empty 110m cement carrier called Phoenix went past heading downhill. It had a car parked on its side decks. There was a load of rubbish in the canal, plastic and bits of wood mainly, but also floating stuff like an old coat and woven plastic bags. Noted there was a new Jumbo supermarket back of the quay at Urmond. A new oil berth had been constructed from large vertical and horizontal tubes at the start of the long, long quay at Stein, where there were only a few pans and a tug plus one empty commercial moored. At the end of the quay there was on offline basin with more loading
Limmel flood locks. End of Julianakanaal
and unloading quays. A large loaded tanker called Deneb came out of the basin and turned on to the canal heading in the same direction as us just as a string of cruisers were coming the opposite way, it missed them all. The canal became narrower as we went into a cutting with trees on both high sloping grassy banks as we went round an S bend following the course of the Maas, which at this point was very close to the canal on our right. A speedboat full of youngsters went past heading downhill but came back past us again about
Boats moored on the wall in Maastricht. River Maas
half an hour later doing about 30kph. At 12.30 pm the sun was hidden by black clouds, so Mike fetched the sunshade down and I shut the canvases ready for rain as we ran down the last long straight of the Juliana to the flood lock at Limmel. The wind picked up and was blowing a gale. A loaded boat called Vera from Amsterdam (80mx9.5) went past at Bunde brug, then there was a series of sand and gravel workings on our right and the wind was howling across as we had no shelter from it for several hundred metres. A loud clap of thunder as we went back
Posh new sewage works. Maastricht
into the (relative) shelter of the trees and an empty called Kinevy went past heading for Maasbracht. Mike put the brolly up but we hadn’t mended it since the helicopter stripped the cover off it and we lost the strings and hooks to hold it down to the handrails. I got some cord and the scissors and Mike found the new S hooks he’d modified and he added new tethers to the brolly. A loaded tanker called Parkkade (110x10.5 2420T) came past and we slowed down so that a tug called Jilly-F pushing a small pan filled with sand
Below Lanaye lock. Bye Bye Netherlands, hello Belgium!
dredgings could overtake us just before Limmel. We bounced all over the place in his wash as we followed him through the double guillotined flood lock at the end of the Julianakanaal. Another speedboat was fast catching us up – there was a speed limit of 4.5kph through the flood lock, which he ignored completely. Into Maastricht. The tug turned hard right into the arm leading to the Zuid Willemsvaart. We went through the town centre past the moorings on the wall between
Above Lanaye in Belgium. Albert canal.
two road bridges, it was full with double moored boats at one end. Through the pointed arches of the old bridge, St Servaasbrug, passing several moored passenger boats. A large one had just loaded with passengers and set off through the bridge on the other side of the wall and soon overtook us. There were boats everywhere, sail boats, speedboats, cruisers and trippers – all the way to the lock, Saturday afternoon! Mike called the keeper at Lanaye in French and he replied in English, sort of.
Cockerill-Sambre steel works Vivegnis
Follow the hotel boat into the big lock. OK, makes a change from ropes up the bollards in the small lock chamber, which feels like a chimney as it is 14m deep. The hotel boat (offering cycle tours) was already sitting on the wall below the chamber so we attached behind him to wait for the tripper and a cruiser that was coming down to leave the chamber. The hotel boat went in on the right and we went behind him but he didn’t go far down the chamber. A cruiser came in too and went around us and the hotel boat to tie on the wall in front of him (the left wall remained empty)
No idea! Artwork at Chelate
The floaters were too far apart to have one at our bows and stern so we ended up with bollards again anyway! The bollards were set into the wall in large oval recesses and, as the incoming water comes through the floor and shoves the boats hard against the walls, the holes kept trapping my fender, no real need for ropes. It survived. When the lock was full Mike said take our MET number up to the office so we’re on the Belgian computer – so I climbed the long open staircase up to the lock office, but the keeper said his
King Albert memorial at start of Albert canal
computer was kaput, so back downstairs I went. Everyone else had left by the time I was back on the lockside. It was 3.30 pm as we set off on the Albert canal and said hello Belgium. Mike found the courtesy flags out and swapped the Dutch one for the Belgian. It was half an hour before we saw the first boats moving, a high speed RIB coming towards us then an empty tanker called Dinara (125mx11.45 3518T) as we were going through Hemalle-sous-Argenteau. A large cruiser heading downhill produced a huge wash which reverberated off the concrete
Hotel boat moored in Liege city centre. Alone.
walls both sides of the canal and the wind had picked up too, making it very bouncy for a while. It was nice to see some hills once more. Beyond the river Meuse to our left there were tree covered cliffs with small villages stretching up into the hills. A loaded tanker called Anversa was fast catching us up, but it stopped to moor opposite the silent steel works of Cockerill-Sambre, now part of Arcelor-Mittal (taken over just like the German steel works where we spent last winter). Another tanker went past, an empty one, called Valcheren, it had the same
Liege blocks of waterfront flats
livery (orange) of the tankers that went past us daily when we were moored at Weert on the Zuid Willemsvaart. Loads of commercials were moored at Vivengis along the right hand wall, including a loaded coal boat called Myzako (110x11.45 3282T) then we spotted the Carrefour supermarket – that’s why they were all moored there! A loaded boat called Ludovic was blue boarding to come into the moorings, so we went left to keep out of his way. On the left bank at Chertal there was a strange “sculpture” of a car between the blades of a giant pair of scissors. A big new incinerator plant had been built on the right, the smell was pretty bad as the wind was blowing towards us from it. Loaded tanker Noord (51x6.3 463T) overtook us before the
Moored below Yvoz-Ramet lock against what will be new lock wall
suspension bridge in Herstal. An empty tanker called Poseidon (110x11.40 2512T) went past, followed by a loaded boat called Koufra (86x9.5 1500T) as we were passing Monsin lock, where some tankers lock down to load at the refinery on the Meuse. Made a cuppa as we passed the immense statute of Albert, King of the Belgians, at the end of the canal that bears his name and on to the river Meuse. Loaded péniche Optimist went past as we went into the outskirts of the city of Liège. The cycling tour boat was moored in the centre – it must have had special permission to tie up there, no one else moors on the quays. Loaded boat Karima (85x9.5 1538T) went past at the new suspension bridge after the gold painted bridge called Pont de Franges. It was bouncy again after he’d gone past. A boat called Skyline (110x11.45 3224T) was moored at the new container port before Cockerills at Ougrée. The sunken commercial that had been there last year was still there, just the top of the cabin showing above the water. An empty called Raypa (80x8.24 1082T) went past heading downriver, followed by loaded Renata (62x6.65 756T) as we were passing Cockerills coking plant at Seraing. It was 7.30 pm. The next lock, Yvos-Ramet, was now closed. I did some catching up with the log as we went along the river to moor at the lock at 8.45 pm. A tanker that had passed us earlier (Noord) was moored below the lock on the left, tied to some dolphins which were totally unsuitable for us to tie to. The concrete wall on the right was where we’d moored before but a new lock was being built and the mooring loops set into the wall had been removed so we had no alternative but to moor on the new concrete wall immediately below the lock which had not been finished, steps lead down from the top but there were no ladders below them and there were lots of bits of rebar sticking out. New inset bollards were useful to tie the bows to and Mike found one bollard by a set of steps to tie the stern. Good job we didn’t need to get off the boat. Another commercial arrived around 11.30 pm.

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