Thursday, 11 September 2014

Tuesday 9th September 2014 Pommeroeul to La Louviére. 38.1kms 2 locks 1 lift

After a month at Pommeroeul we finally restart the journey back to France.

The pier at Pommeroeul -Snail, a Dutch boat and DB Albertine  
9.8°C Warm and sunny. Clear blue skies to start, then wispy hazy streaks of clouds, turning into a Simpson’s sky later. Breezy. An empty commercial went past on the main canal, heading the same way as us. We said our au voirs to Anne and Oll, they said they’d be back in the UK November so we’d meet up somewhere. Said bye to Andy and Clare as we were all taking photos. It was 10.10 am as we turned on to the Kanaal Nimy-Blaton-Peronnes heading uphill towards Mons, noting that the quay on the corner where several large
Wandering Snail at Pommeroeul
commercials had moored for several days at a time during the past month had a large “No Mooring” sign and an arrow pointing along the quay “for 110m” ie the length of the quay. A large bird of prey picked a fish out of the canal and flew off with it, my guess would be that it was a fish-scavenging black kite. The pink flowers of marsh-mallow were blooming all along the canal banks. A loaded Czech boat was moored in the darse at Villerot, Magrit from Decin, (80m x 9.0m) at the chemical works of Yara. A nearly empty tanker called Vira
Loaded boat Satanas overtaking
(77m x 8.20m 1082T) from Rotterdam was finishing unloading. I missed a good photo of a house by the road bridge in Baudor that had a long line of at least a dozen big, tall banana palms along the towpath. Remarkable plants that grow new trees each year from the previous year’s roots. Sandpipers flew yodelling across the canal, they are a definite feature of this canal, there were several pairs of them at the basin at Pommeroeul. A loaded Dutch péniche called Rimar from
Empty Samarinda overtaking Satanas 
Moorhoek was moored at the end of the long quays at Ghlin. A container crane was using chains to load some steel coils into a lorry. There were no moored boats, just a a long series of quays full of concrete pipes, containers, steel coils and coal besides whatever was stored in the warehouses. We could see a loaded boat in the distance behind that was fast catching us up. Bright yellow button flowers of strong-smelling tansy were growing along the canal banks in between big banks of Japanese knotweed. The loaded boat went past us just before the flood lock at Ghlin, Satanas from Visé (51m x 6.6m 668T) and
Satanas by the old boat lift at Thieu
we got caught on his stern wash and had to do a hard reverse to get off it. A DB had just left the moorings at Mons, followed by a cruiser. Mike spotted a narrowboat on the moorings called Mabel Rose. He put the revs up to try and keep up with the three boats in front of us. When we arrived below Obourg lock the commercial was going in and the cruiser and DB were hovering just outside the lock. The DB, called Pendragon, took the right hand wall and we followed the cruiser (Fair Lady, German flagged with Roermond on its stern, R.Maas
The old boat lift and new lock at Thieu
in NL) on the left wall. He stopped short and the keeper tried to get him to move forward, but he either was ignoring him or didn’t speak French as he didn’t move. There was just enough room for us to get in and I slung a centre line around a bollard. Mike moved the rope up the six bollards from the roof while I made some lunch. The commercial set off followed by the DB but the cruiser was slow to move and hadn’t taken his ropes off when we moved over and followed Pendragon out of the lock with the German skipper shouting the odds at Mike as he went past him. Needless to say he soon overtook us.
Below the new Strepy-Thieu boat lift
We followed the queue to Havre with the cruiser right up behind the commercial. A Dutch tanker called Voja (81.3m x 9.60m) had just left the chamber, but something else was going up in the lock so we had to wait, hovering in the middle of the canal with the other three boats. There was a covered conveyor belt running along the left hand bank and it was covered in graffiti, we wondered what it was carrying that needed a cover. The lock emptied and Satanas got green lights and so we followed the others into the lock chamber – this one, Havre, is bigger than the last lock at 124m long and has floaters, while Obourg was only 96m long. Satanas went up to the top end, the cruiser went forward and attached to a floater opposite the commercial and the keeper called everyone forward as another boat was coming in, an empty péniche called Samarinda. We had troubles getting to the left hand floaters so the skipper of Satanas invited us to hang on to his side bollards. We had a long natter (in French) as the lock
View from Strepy lift of the boats waiting below the lift
filled. The skipper and his wife liked our boat, they said they wanted to sell their boat and retire, but they said that the Belgians wanted more for a cruiser than they were selling their 51m boat for! They asked how much to buy a narrowboat, so we told them roughly the price of new ones and second hand. They seemed impressed and said they might buy one! They agreed with what Helen had said about the wheat harvest being bad this year so there wasn’t much work about (although they said the Dutch undercut the Belgians by 1,50€
Strepy lift - Bounty (commercial in front end of caisson)
German cruiser, Pendragon and Temujin 
a tonne, how they didn’t know as they have to pay the same out for diesel, etc) They had a cargo of industrial soil that had been cleaned to remove heavy metals, etc (he rolled the cover back to show us) which he was taking to Liège as the Arabs were buying it up. We laughed and said is that true, no joking, - yes it’s true; so we asked what they were buying it for, he didn’t know but there were lots of boats were carrying this cargo of treated soil. Whatever next!? We followed the cruiser out of the lock at 2.55 pm. The others soon overtook us, all heading for Strépy. A loaded Belgian boat called Njord (447T) went past heading downhill, followed by a loaded French
Moored above the old boat lifts at La Louviere
péniche called Jewel and 670T Espoir (55m x 7.25m). The empty péniche we’d locked with wound up the power to overtake Satanas as we were going past the long quay at Villers-sur-Haine. It was 3 pm. Shortly after we went past the long quay below the new lock and the bottom old lift no 4 at Thieu which was full of fishermen and their parked cars. Into the deep cutting that the new canal follows to the big new lift. There was a queue below the lift. The cruiser had moored on the left below the right hand caisson and the queue of commercials started with Bounty an 85m empty, then Oceanic a big Dutch tanker, then Samarinda the empty péniche from Marchiennes and Satanas had tagged on the end. When Conbar from Sherringham (British newbuild DB last seen in Mons a month ago) came out of the caisson we followed Bounty and the cruiser in and took the right hand wall, DB Pendragon came alongside us and we chatted with the crew as we rose 73m in ten minutes. We were last out – the others shot off into the distance and we resumed normal pace as we no longer needed to keep up with the commercial. After a few kilometres we turned right on to the historic canal - which is still closed to through traffic and provides us with a nice quiet mooring above the top lift no 1 Houdeng-Goegnies. It was 5.30 pm when we tied up.

1 comment:

  1. We got away too the next day. The only pleasure boat we met was a nb, Last Farthing, as we came out of Pomm!! What were the chances of that happening? Now at Gent having had a lovely day yesterday with our friend in Kortrijk. Peter booked for Tuesday so back to hard graft then. xx