Monday, 26 May 2014

Tournai To Blaton

2 locks, 13¾ miles, 4½ hours

In Tournai the canal is too narrow for 2 way traffic so it operates a traffic light system.  There’s 2 obstacles in Tournai of note.  A lift bridge which goes up and comes down on 4 hydraulic rams and takes about 30 seconds each way.


Pont Notre Dame

The other and fixed obstacle is the Pont des Trous




This was an average size commercial but bigger ones than this get through.  I thought it was tight when when we went through and these commercials are up to 3 times wider than us.  This one was loaded so low in the water.  How they get them through is a wonder.

Setting off from Tournai our plan now was to take a big detour by going up the Blaton-Ath cananl back towards the North again to join the Boven-Zeescheelde at Dendermonde, then head East to join the Zeekannal Brussels-Schelde and head South again passing through Brussles heading for Charlerol.

That was the plan hatched the evening before. So off we set.

Our route today

Not far out of Tournai MR devoloped a fuel filter problem so we moored up while Graham did some tinkering and fixed the problem.

Once underway again its very obvious that the commercial boats have a very important job to do.  All along the canal as far as the first of the days locks was very industrious.  Some old and a lot of new and current works.


2235Old Chalk Works


2245Odd building like this


This was a fuelling station for the barges.  It also ran a fleet of smaller refuelling tug shaped boats that delivered to out lying barges.

Our first lock of the day was Ecluse de Peronnes.

Looking at the size of the gate and the land above I realised it was going to be a deep one.

This was by far the deepest lock we had ever been in.  The mooring was a series of peg bollards set in the wall which meant the rope had to be moved up every 30 seconds.  It was however quite a gentle lift.

The next lock was only about 15 minutes away and this was set up for us by the first lock.  We had to wait a while but no radio was needed and soon we had the green light to enter.



This lock Ecluse de Maubray was even deeper




It was much easier to rope off though as this one had floating bollards. Again this was a first for us.  I guess this lock was a 10m rise but it was gentle.

This new canal Nimby-Blaton-Peronnes was a considerable change form the Class 4 commercial canals we have been on of late. The canal here runs pretty much along the Belgium French border for the first few miles and it densely wooded on each side.

2263                                        France to the right Belgium to the left

The rest of the trip to Blaton was very enjoyable but otherwise nothing of interest to tell.  We found a seemingly nice mooring for the night and duly moored up for the night.

A list on numbers on my map all went unanswered or disconnected so a stroll down to the first lock on of the flight had a number that worked only to be told the canal was closed for the next 3 weeks for maintenance.  That was a massive disappointment as we were told in several places this canal was a real treat.





Later that afternoon we were joined by a Swiss couple and we all chatted over several bottles till late into Saturday evening. 

As this mooring was so quite we decided to stay another day for a bit of piece from the commercial barges. Sunday evening saw us all join Peter & Lucy on their boat for drinks and chats again.

Our piece was well and truly shattered about 6.30am on Monday morning. Jill was already up and saw a mini Tsunami or boar rush up the canal.  This lifted out back end and dumped our uxter place on the concrete shelf, leaving us pointing down hill and listing to port.

This is the ledge

And us 5” out of the water sitting on the shelf

I got it off once only for it to happen again a few minutes later.  Oh and the noise!!!

We can only guess that it was large commercial barges passing the head of the canal which was about 500m away causing a draw on the sealed canal.

We made plans to leave as soon as we did a top-up shop.  It was an early star for us all being not long after 10am.

This part of the waterways has some interesting information here. Especially how the barges are making a saving on CO2 emissions.

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