Monday, May 22, 2017

Barge Date:  22-05-2017

Catching Up

After getting Rich off to the train station, I departed south. I would soon be entering the Wallonia (French speaking) area of Belgium. The idea is to meet up again with the Silk Purse and proceed further south. I pass through several locks by following a large commercial barge with no problems.

I needed to go through the Bossuit lock for the mooring area that is on the other side. This is a big,
big lock with a lift of about 30 feet. You enter in a concrete canyon with green algae growing all around you. In locks of this size, the only way to tie on your boat is to have floating bollards attached to the walls. Once attached and water begins to enter the lock again, you and the bollard float to the top. It takes maybe 10-12 minutes for the lock to fill up.

On the other side, I spied the Silk Purse tied to a floating dock. I cruised past, did a 180 turn and came in in front of them with a pretty good maneuver.

I spent the time working in the boat and riding the bike to a town about 2 miles away. I needed food which I found and I was looking for a good hardware store but no such luck.

Anywhere where you have several pleasure boats - this includes metal barges as well as fiberglass and metal cruisers - there is always the opportunity to gather with the other boaters. With the Silk Purse tied up, it is a good bet that the gathering will take place on their barge. Carole, Barrie and I spent the evening with a couple from New Zealand talking about canals, boating, and the experiences that others bring to the party.

The Silk Purse and our boat departed in the morning through the large Bossuit lock, this time going down, and headed further south and east. There was a bit of excitement for me in that I ran aground. Honestly, I did nothing wrong.  We were waiting for the next lock to be available and had to "hover" in place while we waited. There was plenty of room and I was a good distance from any shoreline but somehow, in an area not marked with warning buoys, I found myself unable to move.

After trying several high speed revs of the engine with no movement, my first thought was to have Silk Purse pull me free. But the lock was now available and they were proceeding in and did not respond to my horn or the radio. I don't know why the radio didn't raise them. As the large commercial was leaving the lock, I could see a swell of water in front of it, and I hoped that it would be enough to lift the boat to allow me to go forward. And it worked just that way; I was ready and the boat moved. A surprising event and it caused a bit of consternation.

by CG
We were joined in the next lock by Sojourner who had been with us in Diksmuide. We all continued south and east through the city of Tournai (see above) to our final destination of Antoing having to pass through  a section of canal that is one way alternating traffic and we had to hold until we were given the green light. My mooring approach at Antoing was a thing of perfect beauty.

At this location, there is a substantial boat store geared mostly for the commercial operators but they do have some items that would be useful for people on a barge. I purchased several small items from them.

The next morning, I woke up to a no electric power situation. This had happened before, and the thought was that I was the culprit, having done a load of wash just off of the batteries. But overnight there was almost no electric activity other than the refrigerator and a low battery situation turned off the inverter.

With advice from Barrie, I tested each battery and found that one of the house batteries was reading 9 volts. Normally they should be reading 12 volts or more. This means the battery is bad and since they work in pairs, it means purchasing two new batteries. This type of battery used for house electricity is of the gel type and is very large and very, very heavy. It takes two people to move one around.

Finding a source for this size and type of battery is not every day work. In the end, we were referred to a store in Tournai and I spoke with a person there in my best French and he seemed to know what he was doing and what I wanted to purchase. If there was a weak link, it was me. So to make sure that we were doing the correct thing for the correct battery, I called Marianne and asked her to call the store to confirm everything that I had set in place. She did, and everything looks good for a pick up of the new batteries next week.

Of course next week is when Marianne arrives from the US. In order to collect my long fought for Belgian visa, I must fly to Atlanta to go to the consulate and have them give me the paperwork. Marianne and I will meet in Atlanta, spend the night, go to the consulate and then fly out. Two trans-Atlantic flights in 2 days, you would think they would give me first class just for the fun of it.

Last night another big shindig on the Silk Purse. This time a couple from the UK in their double wide narrow boat, the Jolly Roger, joined in the fun.

Today I am being picked up by my kind brother-in-law for the trip back to Brussels to be ready for the flight back to Atlanta. I guess as a parting shot the boat wanted to leave me with good memories and work to come by having the manual toilet fail. I think I have the correct parts on hand but will be ordering more from the supplier. Hope to have them sent to Brussels for our return next week. That would be good timing.

 We drove by the very impressive lift lock, so stopped to take a picture.  It will be fun using it.  Boats enter a large "bathtub", maybe several boats as the tub is big, and as one tub goes up, another comes
down. There is a video here that shows the lock in operation.

In preparation for the arrival of the Admiral, I have been attempting to clean the boat but without electricity and now without one of the toilets, I am limited to just straightening things up. I hope she understands. Anyway, we are both looking forward to seeing each other after nearly 3 months of separation.

Here are a few more pictures from the travels.

Tim and Rich

This old car has something to do with Eddy Merckx, greatest bike racer ever - a Belgian

Art in Oudenaarde

and another type of lift bridge

A brick windmill

Silk Purse to the left

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