Saturday, 13 September 2014

Wednesday 10th September 2014 La Louviére to abv Auvelais. 54.6kms 6 locks

Dependant overtaking below Viesville
10.2°C overnight. Grey and damp with only brief glimpses of sun. Coats on as it was only 12°C when we set off, early at 7 am to clear Charleroi. Pins in to do washing as it was 20kms across the summit level before the first lock down. Samarinda, the empty péniche we shared a lock with yesterday was moored on the last quay nearest the junction with the main Brussels-Charleroi canal, waiting to load. We hadn’t been going long before Saona loaded with soil overtook us. Dutch boat Antarctica from Maasbracht (80m x 8.20m 1190T) was unloading a cargo of sand into lorries at Familliereux. At Seneffe a loaded boat called Brabo from Wijngem (79.17m x 8.18m 1140T) went past. The washing was finished so we paused in mid canal with the engine off while Mike extracted the coupling from the
Suction dredger at Luttre
generator. A cruiser set off from Seneffe’s other moorings in the branch de Bellecourt and, just after we set off again, a tug called Infinity pushing an empty pan called Infinity II went past. Into another deep cutting with sloping grassy banks. A tractor was mowing the grass along the edge of the towpath near Espinette and as we passed it the flail arm went over the top of a set of concrete steps and the rear roller came undone, bounced and rolled down the bank into the canal. No more mowing today until he gets that fixed! We passed through Pont à Celles at 9.45 am, the sun appeared briefly as a loaded Dutch péniche from Terneuzen called Keiko went past, crew waving in the wheelhouse. Swimming along with a
Art work on wall at back of unloading quays Marcinelle
large group of mallard was a female ruddy shelduck, an escape from a collection according to my bird book, as they live in SE Europe not here. Under a railway bridge and a tug called Cat pushing an empty pan called Namur went past making a lot of wash. An empty called Dependant (80m x 9m 1438T) was fast catching us up, it and the tug and pan passed each other under the railway bridge. Not long after that the empty square fronted barge overtook us as we went under the footbridge at Luttre. Two big bouncing boxer dogs were running up and down its gunwales woofing at us as it went past. Took a photo of an interesting looking green painted suction dredger that was moored by the footbridge. Bad
Steel works chimneys at Marcinelle
luck for us that the boat that had just overtaken was a big one as we couldn’t get in Viesville lock 3 with it as the lock is only 87m long, so no need to rush to keep up with it. A boat that had just come up the lock went past us on the last bend before the lock, Lincy from Schoten (80m 8.8m 1120T) loaded with coils of wire. The countryside was pleasant with wooded hills on our left and a railway track on the right. We arrived at the lock at 10.40 am and moored in the area reserved for plaisanciers opposite Dependant, who was also waiting for the lock. Loaded boat Redoubtable (80m x 8,20m 1204T) came up Viesville, then Dependant went down. I got on with the chores. An empty called Clacit 9 came up and then it was our turn to go down. Just us, at 11.40 am – we’d been waiting just an hour.
Steel works at Marcinelle
Waiting below was an empty called Revenge (80m x 8.20m 1099T) from Brugge. Twenty minutes to the next lock no 2 Gosselies. A boat loaded with scrap metal called Will-Tier was moored by the scrapyard above the lock. Loaded péniche Picaro came up the lock then we went down, still just us. I made some lunch while Mike held the string - the first three locks today have floaters as they are all 7m deep locks). Waiting to come up below the lock was Orca (73m x 8.20m 1041T) loaded with rocks. Another stray duck was paddling around with a bunch of mallard, this time it was a very unusual stiff tailed duck – a male white headed duck – definitely another foreigner. A Ryanair ‘plane flew over low, coming in to land at Charleroi airport. Another went over as we passed the gas-fuelled power

Boat graffiti abv Marcinelles lock
station above lock 1 Marchiennes-au-Pont. We had a short wait while a loaded boat called Welland came up, then we went down. It was 1.30 pm as we left the bottom. Passing the long quays full of recycled material,  a huge pile of busted car windscreens, more glass in small pieces called cullet, then big piles of scrap in various stages of sorting, a long sand quay then a concrete works backed by a wall full of graffiti in panels, proper art work not tagging. A sharp turn right and left on to the Sambre, so Mike put out a call on VHF announcing our presence. No reply, so we carried on to the lock at
Montignies lock
Marcinelles. There was a queue of boats for the scrap berth by the lock. Two empties then Missouri unloading (looked about 105m long but had no dimensions on its coamings) and Infinity III behind it, waiting to unload. Odra (81.27 x 9.50 1370T) came up the lock, then we went down. Risky from Brugge loaded with soil (80m x 9.50m) was hovering around the first bend in the concrete trough through Charleroi and loaded péniche Aude which was sitting by the right hand wall. We kept left (as the signs indicated) passing lots of people walking along the top of the high concrete walls, people living in the flats were out on their balconies – they waved. Loads of cars were crossing the numerous bridges over the river, the noise reverberated along the deep river channel. Out into more industrial surroundings as we ran down to Montignies lock. The lock filled and we went down. Two men came out from the lock cabin up on high and waved as we left. It was
Steel works railway engines nr Pont de Loup
3.30 pm. We met the next boat uphill just before Pont de Loup, a pusher pair called Stradivarius (28.5m x 5.5m) and Largo (about 55m). A steel works occupied the left bank for a considerable distance. An unusual engine pulled a long train of steel coils on flat wagons. At Van Kerkhoven's yard here were two péniches on the dry dock and more boats moored by the old trip boat, Discovery 76m and a smartly painted péniche called Ingona. Nothing was on the big slipway. Beyond the yard there was a long quay filled with cubes of compressed steel scrap. At the new Port Autonome de Charleroi there was a loaded boat called Cutty Sark (61m x 7.24m 698T) moored next to a mountain of sand.
Piles of soil or dredgings near Tamines
We had a short wait above Roselies lock while loaded péniche Zambesi came up, then we went down. I made a cuppa while Mike took charge of the rope. Below the lock we were at last free of industry for a short while, there were green grassy banks and rolling wooded hills. At the first bend we passed another scrap boat Amore (67m x 8.20m) – the keeper had just shut the gate behind us, there was a lot of shouting on VHF. At the next bridge there was the revolting pong of the piles of rubbish waiting to be recycled. Then back to rural smells. Past Carrefour Market at Tamines on its high high quay wall and into the town. The main road bridge had all the EU member flags flying and we puzzled over some of them, needless to say the Union Jack was flying upside down. The sun was out at last, but the wind was still cold as we ran down the last leg of the river to Auvelais. We met the next uphill loaded boat by the disused railway bridge in Sambreville, Equitable (79.5m x 8.5m) loaded with more soil. An empty was catching up, so Mike slowed off so it could
Roselies lock
overtake us on a straight section. Antarctica came past, (we’d seen it first thing this morning being unloaded) now empty it was hurrying back towards the Meuse. Mike called him on Channel ten to tell him we weren't going down the next lock so not to wait for us. Yo! Said the Dutch skipper from Maasbracht. More sandpipers. A man walking a large brown dog was overtaken by a lycra-clad cyclist, the dog started chasing the man on the bike who started pedalling like fury and the dog owner ran after the dog shouting at him as he tried to catch the bike!  An empty Dutch boat called Statenstad was mooring up, well beyond the lock, with props at both ends still turning. We winded and moored by the armco at the end of the lock waiting area. It was 6.40 pm. We set the TV up and got the bike off. Another Dutch boat arrived at 7.10 pm, Bastimo loaded with scrap, it moored between us and the empty. It was 7.25 pm when Mike left to collect the car. Mike sent a text at 9.30 pm to say he’d just loaded the bike in the car and would be about 45 minutes. He was back around 10.15 pm and decided to leave the bike in the car rather than try and struggle with it in the dark. 

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