Monday, May 15, 2017

Barge Date: 13-05-2017

From "this is what it is all about" to "playing with the big boys"

This will be a short post because, as they say, pictures speak a thousand words and I am sure you would rather see the pictures than me writing 1000 words. See below.

This is about an independent trip that I am taking with my friend Rich from Latvia. After charging the batteries and starting the boat, we did a 180° turn and headed up the Leie river (la Lys in French).

This section of the river is absolutely beautiful. The river is narrow with many twisting turns and on both banks beautiful views of stately weekend homes and pasture scenes. It was a lot of fun driving the boat over this section of water. And there were some exciting times on the river. Kayak users, small boats, and surprises at the worst possible tight turn. But no one hurt, no damage, and in fact we touched no one. But look at the pictures and you will see what I mean. I want to go back and do this several times. Now we know where all the Belgian money is hidden - in these homes along this river.

But after this bucolic trip we entered no man's land - commercial waterways. And it started immediately when we made our turn on to this busy thoroughfare. We had to pause to let a commercial pass to our starboard then we pulled in behind him.

Up ahead of this commercial was another boat heavily laden with product. So the boat in front of us attempts to pass and completes the pass immediately where another commercial waterway enters from the starboard side. So now we have two commercials in front of us and we all turn south into the waterway. Very quickly things begin to happen. A third commercial, running empty and running fast, was pulling in behind us. We were a little surprised to see him. And, running fast and empty, he wanted to pass and he began to do so. For some reason he did not know of a fourth commercial boat coming from the opposite direction. How wide is this canal?

So picture if you can or simply look at the picture, three boats running abreast, two in one direction and the third in the opposite. When I looked out my port window there was the fast guy, just 6 feet away. I'm sure he's been on this water many, many times while this is my first but I knew I had to keep my line and keep driving forward. There was nowhere to get off.

This lasted for several minutes until we came to a turnaround section on the canal and I simply entered and reduced power to let the fast boy go by. For me, pretty exciting. On my first trip. With a visitor on board. Rich was impressed and it is his pictures that you're looking at on this post. The rest of the trip south was uneventful other than we shared a lock with another boat by the name of Memphis. We shared the lock with me coming in last and but there was plenty of room, and Rich and I handled it like pros. Neither of us made it to the next lock in time to go through so we tied up together to proceed the next morning at 10 AM. We were in the town of Oudenaarde.

This is a panorama..

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