Saturday, 13 September 2014

Thursday 11th September 2014 abv Auvelais to Namur. 26.8kms 4 locks

Hotel ship Victor Hugo leaving Auvelais lock
8.4°C Cold and grey again with a chilly north wind. A few very brief sunny spells later. The hotel ship Victor Hugo came up the lock and a little later a loaded péniche. Mike loaded the bike back on the roof and then went in the car to get the diesel containers for the boat refilled. It was 9.40 am when we winded and waited a short while above Auvelais lock as loaded boat Flipper (67m long and about 700T) was coming up in the lock. He cleared and we went down, still just us, we’d seen no other private boats (and didn’t see any until we reached the Meuse at Namur). A loaded péniche called Loma was waiting below and another big boat was above the lock (almost on the top end gates) waiting to come down.
Hotel ship Victor Hugo leaving Auvelais lock
Antarctica, from Maasbracht (80m x 8.20m 1190T) was loading aggregates (fine gravel) with a big shovel digger at Surmont just before the big Solvay works. The river was flowing faster than normal with around a 2 kph flow - we were flying along. A big empty went upriver running hard and making a big wash, we bounced around for some time and later I hung the mat off the front deck over the top plank to drip dry. Mike called on VHF and Mornimont lock was ready for us when we got there, straight in and down. An 80m loaded
Rebuilding work at Auvelais lock
boat called Raypa was moored on the quiet mooring quay above the lock. An 80m loaded with soil called Audac went past heading upriver. Mike called again and Florifoux lock was ready with gates open and green lights. The long guard wall between the lock and the weir was full of Canada geese, the first we’d seen this year. Going well, we were in, down and out again in around ten minutes. I took a photo of the lock cabin, weir and middle gate as all of these things are being replaced on these river locks. A Dutch tanker from Druten called Natrona (85m x 9.5m 1149T) went past heading
Loaded peniche Loma below Auvelais
upriver. Just below the lock was a huge recycling plant with a boat-unloading facility under cover; lots of dustbin lorries were driving in and out of the plant. More Canada geese, little gulls and mallard were congregated downstream of the recycling plant. A pair of Egyptian geese were standing on the top of the sloping concrete bank a bit further downriver. Then we saw some more beautiful foreign ducks, two male mandarins, which must have escaped from some park or zoo. The sun came out
Antarctica loading aggregate
as we passed the big bus depot on the outskirts of Namur. Mike called again for the lock and Salzinnes was ready. It was 2 pm. I took photos of the new weir. Still just us, we’d seen no other pleasure craft since we left Strepy. The river is narrow through Namur and the waterfront houses have for the most part been renovated over the past few years. All the restaurant boats that used to moor in the last few hundred metres of the river before the junction with the Meuse have long disappeared due to the size of the working boats that now use the Sambre. Thankfully we didn’t have to squeeze past any of them today in the
Old style lock cabin, weir and central sliding gate - soon to be no more 
narrow bit, nothing was moving but us. We turned right by the statue of King Albert on his horse and motored upriver on the Meuse to moor by the Casino at 2.45 pm with a couple of cruisers and DB Stella Maris. Moorings are 7€ if your boat is less than 13m long then add 1€ for every metre up to 20m long – anything over 20m pays 14€. Electricity and water were available and tokens from the Capitainerie on the far side of the river to pay for it. Tokens are 50c and one will buy one kilowatt/hour of electric or 100 litres of water. The signs said
New weir control cabin at Salzinnes
they come to collect the money between 6pm and 7pm. Gave Mike a hand to unload the bike and he went to get the car around 4.30 pm, he was back at 6.45 pm and no one had been for the mooring fees – Mike spotted there was a sign further back on the quay that said no mooring after 1st Sept – did this apply to us or commercials, difficult to say? Another cruiser arrived later and moored upriver of us.
Moored in Namur by the Casino looking upriver

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