Thieu - Oudenaarde

On Monday the 31st of August an engineer visited us - only for the third time, now in Thieu. This time it was one specialized with electricity, his aim (and ours) being a permanent solution for the electrical problems.

He did it. This plug/socket combination proved to be a faulty one and was replaced. The engine runs again like in its best days. From now on we’ll forever be aware about not taking for granted that the systems automatically works as expected!

Nevertheless another electrical problem became manifest and initially it seemed unclear what it could be. Our charger/inverter seemed to be wrecked, at least partly, and was taken out to test at the engineer’s workshop. Before removing a picture was made for making sure the thing would be replaced the same way it was before. It gives us the opportunity to show you all a part of the complexity of our floating home with all its own, independent, systems.

The charger/inverter proved to be 100% in good working order when tested. Phew!, if forced to buy a new one it would have cost us an arm and a leg. Instead the main switch of our domestic electric system proved to be a faulty one as well and was replaced. As you’d have guessed it’s the left one; the right one is the main switch for the engine, clearly given away by the word ‘engine’ on top of it. We do, by the way, not use –nor have- a key for starting or switching off the engine. Providing the main switch is in the position as seen here it is simply a matter of pushing some buttons.

Tuesday the 1st of September we were finally able to resume our journey again – at 9:55AM. The Canal du Centre has a few deep locks in store before reaching the next canal, like the 10 meters (33 feet) deep Ecluse d’Havré. Luckily the lock is equipped with floating bollards, making life much easier.

After passing Mons/Bergen we left the Canal du Centre and entered the Canal Nimy-Blaton-Peronnes. (Its naming must have stirred up a fair bit of discussion!) That day a modest number of only three locks took us down a less modest number of (6, 10 and 5) 21 meters (70 feet). We ended up at Peruwelz, its port de plaisance that is, at 3:46PM – again after almost 6 hours of cruising. The quay can only be reached via the roof of our little ship, as is clearly visible here. The electrician visited us the next day, replaced the charger/inverter and the main switch, after which all our electrical problems were solved. We thought…

Wednesday September the 2nd we started not before 1:15PM because the electrical engineer’s visit took longer than we anticipated. On the way we pictured this loading quay and a unique device for loading a ship, being a bridge-like construction with an open end used to discharge a lorry into the cargo hold of the ship. The ship itself moves forward, dependent on the level of its load.

In spite of our late departure we finished the canal with the long name and entered the river Escaut/Schelde at 3:38PM. Just a bit over an hour later at 4:45PM we moored at Tournai/Doornik. So we have been active this day for not more than three-and-a-half hours, two locks included. Deep ones again, altogether 18,1 meters (60 feet). It’s amazing to realize that we descended 106,25 meters (350 feet) since the lift, the latter one included.

It’s busy with commercial ships on the Escaut/Schelde, large ones. And they overtake too, if there’s a reason to do so, like here where the empty one is a lot faster than the laden one. Would you believe us when we say that the ‘big boys’ cause our ship to move severely – and us with her?

Tournai/Doornik - one way traffic

With the last picture we were looking upstream. Here we’re looking the other way – downstream. The river narrows considerably in the centre of Tournai/Doornik. Therefore a one way traffic system is in use, as is proven by the big light when we zoom in. The light had turned green just seconds before as the second/last upstream cruising ship emerges from the narrow part. The load: scrap metal. Again.

Next to the floating pontoon we were moored to the construction of it causes a blockade creating a sort of ‘dead end’. The floating rubbish of the river is subsequently brought to a halt here. It is that thick that we saw a rat simply walking on the layer of duckweed! To state is was a heavyweight is an exaggeration but we dare say it was a welterweight, if not a middleweight.

Tournai/Doornik’s central square. As often is the case with Belgian squares it’s utterly charming, historical and full of atmosphere.

Already visible with the last picture is a statue of (Marie-)Christine de Lalaing, Princesse d'Espinoy. We are a slightly short of time so confine ourselves this time by pointing out the Wikipedia-link: As most people know it is often possible to switch over to one’s favourite language.

After three nights (free of charge, except for electricity and water) we left Tournai/Doornik 8:35AM on Saturday the 5th, not after having contacted the operator of the one-way-traffic-system. We were permitted to leave instantly and, when turning from up- to downstream saw a fully laden commercial barge approaching in the distance. As we are faster than him on a narrow and slightly winding stretch we continued turning. The commercial ship is visible here following us. He never catched up, at least not in this narrow stretch of the river. The red light on the lift bridge is, off course, meant for oncoming traffic – in the unlikely event there would be any.

Crossing Tournai/Doornik's centre

A short video-impression of cruising in the centre of Tournai/Doornik…

…and a picture of what is called the ‘Pont des Trous’ (Bridge of the Holes). It is a part of the old defense-system of the city. Very pretty – and all ships fit underneath of it.

As stated before it can be busy on the river. We are talking now only about the upper Escaut/Schelde here, by the way. The ‘record’ we have seen have been ships with a length of 110 meters (366 feet). That is really huge, especially when one is only meters apart from them. We are told that north of Gent/Gand, on the tidal part of the Schelde/Escaut, this is mere child’s play… We’ll inform you after we’ve done the journey into Antwerpen/Anvers. Only if we have survived, self-evidently.

We were able to occupy the last free space, exactly big enough for us. If it looks like there’s more room, there wasn’t when we arrived. The picture was made this morning, Sunday the 6th, after a few boats had left. It’s a dead-end arm of the river at Oudenaarde. Time of switching off the engine 2:53PM, so we had cruised for almost 6,5 hours again, descending two locks on the way. We will be here on the Sunday, doing correspondence and the blog-page and being lazy apart from that. That’s it for this week, dear follower!