Thursday, 25 September 2014

Sunday 14th September 2014 abv Houx to Givet FRANCE. 27.7kms 5 locks

Spot the Brent geese!
9.1°C Grey, overcast and chilly. Misty start. Boats coming downriver arrived at 10.20 am so we got ready and left ten minutes later. No signs of life on the big cruiser. Four cruisers and two DBs went down Houx lock, followed by two more cruisers and two DBs, one of which was Iron Lady from London, who went past us heading downriver as we went past the Ile d’Al Galette. The campsite downriver of Dinant seemed full of tents and caravans. Lady Night with its attached DB (came up Houx yesterday) was now moored on
Wavy rock strata
the weir side of the lock approach wall at Dinant. Two more DBs, Anthonie and Vrijheid, both Dutch flagged, came down the lock and we went up. Couldn’t see any signs of the work they’d been doing the past couple of days on the lock and no signs of a keeper up in his high cabin. We rose 1.8m. Three loaded péniches were moored on the lock guide wall on the left above the lock, Ch’ti, VD and Euro. A 67m long former commercial had been turned into a houseboat and was moored on the right as we
Loaded peniches waiting above Dinant lock
went into the town. At Mike’s suggestion, I took the laptop out on the stern and connected to the Internet to try chatting with Yvonne on Skype, expecting to get 3G as we went through the town, but we only got EDGE, ie 2G. We spoke briefly before the connection dropped out, it reconnected several times but we weren’t able to have a conversation as it was too noisy – and there was a constant stream of motorbikes going past on the road on our right. I transferred to the bows and it was just as bad, so we
Climbers on Freyr rocks
called it a day and I said we’d e-mail as soon as we get set up in France. DBs Aurigny and Cinclus plus a couple of cruisers were moored in town by the Casino. 3.8kms to the next lock at Anseremme, which was ready for us. Up another 2.23m. On the left bank the cruising club moorings stretched out some distance through the town of Anseremme. A longer reach of 7.2kms to the next lock. A small open speedboat went past heading downriver at a very sedate speed. The air started
Climbers on Freyr rocks
feeling damp, not quite raining. As we came up to the Château de Freyr with its amazing gardens, there were literally hundreds of Canada geese on the bank and swimming in the river – with them were two Brent geese. Opposite the Château are the rochers de Freyr and today the climbers were out in force. We took loads of photos, pity the sun wasn’t out. A trip boat from Dinant, Le Sax, overtook us by the Hastière Boat Club moorings. It was milling about below Waulsort lock, presumably we’d caught up
Climbers on Freyr rocks
with other uphill traffic and it was having to wait for the lock to empty. We followed it into the lock, it took the right hand wall (we went on the left as it didn’t leave enough room behind it for us) and it sat with one fore end line on and its prop turning, which caused a swirling of the water that kept our stern end well off the wall. Mike shouted across to the keeper (who was leaning out of his cabin window) to ask the skipper of the trip boat to stop his prop turning. He did, and the steerer came down to the stern and added a rope then
Tripper Le Sax
stopped his prop turning. Up another 2.23m. The lock keeper indicated that we should go out first as the tripper would wind above and come back down the lock. OK. We wondered why he bothered coming up the lock if he was going to turn round right above it. Almost 5kms to the next. Above the lock they’d converted an old mill building into houses and now 28 new “lofts” and 4 houses were up for sale. Passing motorbikes on the right were very noisy, on a Sunday outing no doubt. Up Hastière, deeper at 2.9m, with
Lofts for sale
again no signs of a keeper in the cabin up on high. Passing another long wooded island, Ile de Androssart, we could hear radio traffic of downhill boats calling the French lock Quattre Cheminées and them replying that they were waiting for a “yacht” to come uphill – that must be us! Over the border into France, noting that the supermarket and diesel pumps (where we used to stock up when red diesel was allowed) of M. Léonard had now gone completely. A young man and a young lady came out on the lockside at Quattre Cheminées
Port of Givet
and passed a hook down for our rope, the lock is 2.7m deep and we rose slowly. When the lock was almost full I went to the office with our newly printed vignette and spoke to the young man who was now at his computer. He checked, yes we normally have a full year’s licence, no, only a month this time. He gave me a wallet for the licence and a couple of maps plus a zapper for the locks. I asked if he had any small VNF flags. No, they give them out at the beginning of the year and they’d all gone now. Never mind, I told him we would probably be back in April to dry dock in Belgium and we’d get one then. On the cana
Piles of scrap Givet Port
l section above the lock there were two boats waiting, a DB called Fregate from Antwerp and a Belgian cruiser called Henrijk. Givet had added a new length of concrete quay to their expanding commercial port. The only boat moored there was an empty called Tatiana (86m x 10m 1826T) waiting to load by the piles of coal, pig iron and scrap metal. At the end of the long lock cut there were new flood gates that were wide enough for Tatiana! On into town. The pontoons were in use, a few cruisers were tied up there and more by the
Flood gates at the end of the lock cut above Givet Port 
bridge on the section marked Port de Plaisance. We carried on to the upstream end of the long, and otherwise empty, commercial quay and winded to moor at the far end, our usual spot. It was 4.25 pm. Straight away people stopped to ask Mike the usual questions as he was tying the fore end lines round the lower timber baulks (youths here have been known to lift ropes off bollards, not nice on a flowing river just above a weir). He went to the tourist information office (open on a Sunday!) and asked where there was a bakery that would
Moored in Givet
be open tomorrow (French bakeries are often shut on Mondays) he came back with a town plan with three dots marked right by the quay. Later he went to look for the boulangeries – surprise, surprise, no signs of any bakeries, but he found a Carrefour City and that will have bread. We went out for a short drive in the car around 9.30 pm, back for 10.30 pm just for tootle up and down a few hills as it’s nice to be out of the flatlands.

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