Saturday, 16 August 2014

Saturday 9th August 2014 Ville-sur-Haine to Pommeroeul. 27.7kms 2 locks

In Obourg lock
15.9°C Very windy in the night, which woke Mike (the last blows of hurricane Bertha from America?). Grey clouds but sunny spells and still a stiff breeze blowing. Set off at 9.15 am following a loaded boat down to Havré lock. The lock was full and Espoir (Hope) from Thuin (B) was watering up, so that ruined our chances of getting any water in the lock. A cruiser called Zigzag was moored very precariously above the lock next to dolphins designed for big boats with horizontal supports that were almost higher than the cruisers cabin, the skipper said he would be going down later. We went in behind the commercial and waited. I did the chores and made a cuppa while we waited. They finished filling up and we descended 10m attached to a floater. An empty arrived at the top and a Dutch empty, called Chasseur (hunter) from Maasbracht, arrived to go up, followed by a cruiser.  A short distance to the next lock, past long quays full of more rubbish for recycling and a moored loaded boat called Memphis. There was an
Derelict old mill at Villecot
enormous cement works called Holcim above Obourg lock. The commercial had motored on at a pace we couldn’t keep up with, but he had to slow down to enter the lock and the keeper kept the gates open for us. A Dutch cruiser had just come up. This was a much shorter lock (96m) than the previous one (124m) so we had to go alongside the commercial rather than behind it and he kept his bow thruster going and his prop turning as we dropped down another 5m, changing the ropes down 6 bollards recessed into the concrete wall of the lock chamber. The couple on the commercial were preoccupied with what looked like some damage to their fore-end cabin, which was covered with a sheet of plastic held down with a long hard plastic fender.
Moored on the pier at Pommeroeul,
looking towards the disused lock
Unusually, they motored out of the lock first (Normally the commercials want us out of the way for more manoeuvring room in the chamber). Loaded tanker Calcit 10 was moored below on a short quay. We went across the Grand Large lake to the Mons boat marina to get some water. We moored among the Dutch cruisers we’d seen the day before and Snail came alongside us. While the tanks filled up I took a walk to the Capitanerie (they’d now got a posh lift!) on the second floor and paid 2€ each for the water (water is included in the price if you stay overnight). Two British boats were moored there among the cruisers and yachts (no one on board either), replica DB Pendragon and a large chunky steel boat called Conbar from Sherringham (where
Moored at Pommeroeul, looking towards the main canal
along the length of the pier
Anne’s daughter Amy lives in Norfolk) En route again at 12.30 pm, back across the lake with one sailboat and a jetski making waves. Not long after we went through the flood lock at Ghlin and the canal changed its name to the Nimy-Blaton-Peronnes canal. Two tugs were moored at the south darse (dock) at Ghlin, Spes IV and Romina with an empty pan. Signs said beware dredging in progress, but they were obviously having the weekend off. In the north darse Espoir (the boat we’d locked with) was moored ready for unloading Monday and was craning his car off. I made some lunch. Lots of long quays bordered the canal covered with piles of sand, soil, rocks and rubble, beyond which were steel coils and piles of containers then stacked concrete pipes. A cruiser was catching up (it was Zigzag again) and an empty called Ludovica from Evergem (it used to be called Anita, which was embossed across the stern) went past heading for Mons, motoring hard and making a lot of wash. The concrete quay walls surrounding the entrance to the darse at Baudour were very high and opposite them a fancy new power plant had been built belonging to Electrobel (GDF & Suez). The cruiser Zigzag was moored next to the berths for an oil berth by a fuel station. He said he was trying to get some petrol, but the access to the bank was blocked by a gate. We wished him luck and Mike said he’d do better mooring by the next bridge and walking back with a can. The water had changed colour from a dirty muddy brown filled with bits of rubbish to a bright chalky green as we passed the old windmill opposite the darse at Villecot. Three Dutch cruisers went past, all doing the same speed and all but the last one were making a lot of wash. We arrived at Pommeroeul at 3.10 pm and moored by the disused lock on the waiting area – a long pier. No other boats were there except an old cruiser and two old sailing dinghies moored on the other side of the wall. Set the TV up then Mike got the moped off using a short plank (the quay was almost cabin height, but there was a big gap due to the timber fendering along the wall) and went to collect the car from Ville-sur-Haine. Be interesting to see how long we have to wait before the boat can be hauled out for painting. Hard work here we come again – got to keep the boat looking good!

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