Antwerp(en) - Turnhout

After another winter, this time spent in Antwerp’s Willemdok, we left our mooring on Friday the 8th of April around 11:00AM. Before leaving the dock we had to (1) fill up our diesel tank and (2) pay for the electricity, used during the period from the end of October until the day of leaving. We had to pay an amazing € 828,75; for electricity € 676,66 was included. That was a real bummer. Perhaps central heating + occasional wood burning (coming winter) is a better, cheaper, combination than permanent coal burning + loose electric oil radiators (last winter). Anyway, this is the view when looking back. It was nice, very nice. Next winter we’ll be in Amersfoort, The Netherlands.

We left with three boats, 2 cruisers and us. Two bridges must be negotiated, the first one London Bridge, followed by Siberia Bridge. Of course the two cruisers are faster than we are, so they went in front of us. The bridges open at fixed times, in our case 11:30AM. The 957 meters (0,6 miles) long Kattendijkdok is visible behind London Bridge; Siberia Bridge in the background.

After passing Siberia Bridge one ends up at a crossroad of waterways. We had made the choice to cruise onto the impressive Albertkanaal (Albert Canal) ( for a short distance of around 7 kilometers (4,35 miles) and to enter the quieter Kanaal Dessel-Turnhout-Schoten (Dessel–Turnhout–Schoten Canal) asap. Leaving the Albertkanaal without a picture showing its hugeness would be an omission. So here it is.

Our first lock for the season, ‘Sluis 10’ on the canal with the three towns that it passes in its name. It was a good one to start with: 55 meters (183 feet) long, 7,50 meters (25 feet) wide and elevating us 4,35 meters (14,5 feet). The length of any boat in this canal is limited to ‘only’ 50 meters (166 feet) – the first lock is 55 meters long, all the other 9 are 50 meters, is that logical or what? Having said this, we’ll see later on that 50 meters makes for an impressive piece of vessel!

Our first overnight stop was at a place with the lovely name of Sint-Job-in-'t-Goor. The name is intriguing, especially when knowing that ‘goor’ in Dutch means ‘filth(y)’. It was therefore the plan to look up the history of the name. Alas, we have not been able to find any explanation about the ‘goor’-part. Statistics for the day: over 15 kilometers (almost 9,5 miles) distance, 5 locks (14,05 meters/46,8 feet rise), 3 hours and 20 minutes of cruising – and feeling exhausted! We certainly have to get used again to this change of our lifestyle.

We made a remark about boats of 50 meters being absolutely impressive. Furthermore, the last picture shows a lock in the distance. This is what it looks like when a commercial boat of the possible maximum dimensions sits in a lock…

…and here you see that we are really dwarfed by that same boat when it passed our overnight mooring place.

We were planning to cruise to a place called Turnhout ( the next day. At least here’s an explanation of Turnhout's name: ‘Turn’ stands for ‘thorn’ and ‘Hout’ for ‘wood’. Well, that makes some sense! It’s a distance of over 50 kilometers (over 30 miles) 5 locks and 11 lift-bridges included. In fact, a few more high bridges but they ‘don’t count’. The plan was to leave around eleven in the morning. A caring lock keeper knocked on our door already before 10:00AM and informed us about two facts, being (1) the journey into Turnhout takes 5 hours and (2) the canal closes at 3:00PM on Saturday. So we left in a hurry, tackling the first lock at 10:01AM, still half asleep. When approaching a lift-bridge one has to contact the station situated next to lock number 1 at Rijkevorsel using VHF canal 20. The friendly ladies, (wo)manning that station, monitor everything on the canal by CCTV and operate the bridges. They opened and closed 11 bridges on Saturday the 9th without any delay. Hats off for them!

A bit of wildlife is easily overlooked. Not these two geese (anser anser domesticus, the domesticated anser anser, Wikipedia learned us) though, ever so cool walking on the cycle path. We think this type of goose, compared to the Canada goose, is a lot more handsome than it’s Canadian ‘nephew’ – by far better proportioned.

After ‘Sluis 1’, where one passes ‘HQ’ for this canal, it’s still 12,5 kilometers (7,8 miles) and 6 bridges to go – and we had around two hours available to make it. We did make it! At 2:57PM (really!) we moored just behind bridge nr 1 – so only minutes before closing time. There was some delay because we planned to moor in Turnhout’s centre, but a free place is not available there – and we did not need water, nor electricity. Eventually we found a free spot and this is what it looks like, seen from the south-east that it. It’s even next to a nice restaurant.

As we all know a lot of manipulation is possible when photography is involved. This is the same spot as on the picture before this one, but now seen from the south-west. There are some derelict(?) industrial buildings on the opposite bank, and incorporated are…

…these seemingly private houses, once built in a style indicating good taste and wealth both architectural- and material-wise. Faded glory.

Speaking about Belgian architectural habits, or taste if you like, it’s often striking how free the Belgians are in choosing the style of their houses. Here’s an example of the freedom that’s obvious allowed, although we seem to have read or heard that the (lower?) government is planning to regulate this subject more than in the (recent) past. Bye for now. Hope to see you all next week.