Monday, 31 May 2010

Blaton to Boom

May 10

We had decided to do a figure 8 route through east Belgium having done a lot of the west in 2009.  The Canal Blaton-Ath and River Dender (Dendre) was our selected scenic route north. As the route is very shallow in parts it is seriously underused, so the Sluis team on Day 1 were pleased to see us and got us through the first 10 locks in record time.

One of the few straight stretches
We took a day off to see the chateau at Beloeil.

Chateau Beloeil
At Ladeuze we found a  Bar (run by a little old lady with a border collie) that was the nearest to an English country pub that we have found in Belgium, add in free electricity at the mooring and heaven was in sight.  A major bout of washing and cleaning but no shops so two days later we pushed on towards Ath - supplying the sluis team with beer to make sure we got through before closing time. There was some dredging underway but it hadn't been finished so we were pushing through mud at the summit (with a .8m draught).  It was quite hot and fleeces were temporarily a thing of the past.

Ath was a shopping, eating and drinking week out before entering the River Dender (crossing back into Flanders at the same time).

We found a nice little mooring at Tenbre with a Cave in the old Mill building - just in time for a major replenishment of stocks.  At which point the combi inverter expired - luckily the nearest Mastervolt dealer was at Boom en route.

The Dender was very scenic but was also shallow in parts - the navigator became quite concerned at times.

Port a bit
We re-entered civilisation through the Dendermonde sluis to the River Scheldt. The Sea Scheldt is highly tidal so we planned to sprint down with the outgoing current and then turn up the River Rupel at Rupelmonde to Boom.  All went to plan,  other than a loss of steering soon after our 7am start.  The hydraulic piston had come off the rudder post, with lots of current and no moorings  Peter found himself in the rear cabin using the emergency steering with his knees (port a bit, starboard a bit commands from the wheelhouse management) whilst reconnecting the piston with his hands - funny in hindsight but slightly buttock clenching at the time.  As a result we had to fight up the Rupel against a strong current and the squeeze into the Boom mooring at near low tide was a bit of an effort -not a lot of water.

Boom at low water - note the mud
 At high water the pontoon is up to the white ring on the piling!  The Mastervolt agent (Vennekens) decided the combi inverter was kaput and at 10 years old a new one was called for - so now seriously poor. Some time while waiting for a new unit to sightsee/socialise/admire other boats both in Vennekens and en route to sunnier climes.

Watching the boats trying to turn into the Boom sluis at right angles to the Rupel current :)
A week later we pushed onwards towards the Albert Canal - hooray!

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