Wednesday, 21 May 2014

Gent To Asper, Asper To Kerkhove

3 locks, 1 lift bridge, 27 miles aprox 8 hours

We left Gent about midday on Saturday.  First stop was Brusslespoortsluis. This has to be one of the quietest full time manned lock in the world.  In 3 days we were the only traffic dow and up again.  This was much to the displeasure of the lockie who was as miserable as could ever be, probably because he was disturbed from doing absolutely nothing.  This was a manual lock requiring him to wind several handles to one lock operation.  This really did displease him, so we also asked for water too (which they have to provide).  This displeased him even more because he had to go in his office and turn the tap on. Boring lock so no photo.

Oh! OK here it is.


We retraced our route in to get out of Gent.  this was done on a heads right, tales left decision as we could also have left Gent on the Bovenschelde which would have brought us out onto the Ringvaart almost opposite our destination junction to take us south on the first leg to France.

I have done a time lapse of this part of the trip and will upload it once I am back home or on a free connection as it will eat my data.

We emerged from inside the Ringvaart at the same place we went in Keersluis or K"2 which is a stop lock of 4 to protect the water levels and flooding in the city.  The lock was open so I didn’t count it.

Here’s MR emerging from K2 onto the Ringvaart.



The Ringvaart is simply a ring river around Gent for the commercial vessels.  It’s nothing particularly special but it does very clearly define the city limits. It passes under a number of main roads.  The only bridge of interest on our short 3 mile run was this one just before we turned right onto the Bovenschelde.  This right turn puts us on the way south to France and is a turning point in more than one way for us.


Not long after the turn there was a work yard.  I spied a boat with a very familiar name from my back yard.

River Blackwater

As well as the now ubiquitous cargo vessels of which there were many


a good length of the top of the river is designated a high speed zone.  This means the cargo’s can go faster but also local sports boats can go faster still.  Some coming past at what seemed like 100 mph.



The wake from these small boats is surprisingly choppy and moved us about a fair bit but not for as long as the cargos.

A very pleasant river again but I’d seen it all before going the other way on my bike along the towpath as on Friday I moved the motorhome to Asper from Gent then rode the bike back some 25km. OK its electric but I did most of it on low power and peddling. When I got back I still had 5 out of 5 lights on the power bar. 

We have the Motorhome as our vehicle here which means having to move it ever few days to keep it local.  I have a great tracker built into it which reports its location when it is phoned up.  It replies with a txt

lat:50.930047 lon:3.655288
T:14/05/15 21:55,3.655288&z=16
Pwr: ON Door: OFF ACC: OFF

It can also be sent various txt messages to track it every 5 seconds when its moving, it can be set with a geo fence and will txt when it moves more than 200m from that spot, but best of all it can be sent a txt to kill the vehicle either stone dead or when it goes below 20kph. And a load more other things.

I digress……

We reached Asper in about 3 hours where we moored up, or so I thought.  This bit of river was sort of tidal rising and falling about 9 inches and required the ropes to be adjusted at intervals.  It was nice & quiet.  Little did we know what Monday morning had in store.

Sunday evening saw a BBQ supplied by the crew of MR in place of the traditional Sunday lunch. 



BBQ was a far better idea as it was too hot for a roast.  Drinking and eating went on until dusk.

Now what we didn’t realise or may maybe we did but chose to put to put it to the back of our minds is that the commercial boats go through the night.  This didn’t bother me as I slept through until 6am when one really disruptive boat came through.  What happens is they draw the water from under the boat lowering you.  In this case it must have dropped us 18” because the top of our bollards got caught under the bottom of the wooden rub rail.



This resulted in us being violently rocked which went on for a good 10 minutes.

About 10am on Tuesday Graham checked the AIS and saw about a cargo vessel about an hour away that we could make a convoy with. This duly arrived  and we joined on with a cruiser in a convoy of 4 and made our way to the first of two locks today, Asper Lock.

The cruise to Kerkhove was once again bathed in glorious sunshine with really attractive scenery.

2 convoy boats in front

One behind

4 of us in Asper Lock

And onward through great scenery and dodging Armageddon.




Next stop was Oudenaarde. This was our second lock of the day one again with our little convoy we made our way upstream.


Once through we were pleased to see the lockie had already started raising the town bridge.


Once again another lifting method 4 x hydraulic rams

Imposing waterfront church

The rest of the trip to Kerkhove was uneventful but none the less enjoyable although for once we overtook something. Not like the UK when the verge is being cut and all the debris is flayed everywhere, this one vacuumed up the cuttings and dust.


As we approached Kerkhove there was a scene that could have been any Northern UK mill town.


Shortly after this we found a mooring on a pound off the main drag which was out of the wash of the cargo vessels.  This gave the crew of MR a welcome peaceful nights sleep.


During the afternoon we watched the growing Cumulonimbus knowing what was in store.   Later that evening the looming storm finally broke and we were treated to a short but enjoyable thunderstorm and air clearing rain.

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