Sunday, May 7, 2017

Barge Date: 4-5-2017

On Our Way

Today was a fun day. Heading north from Diksmuide towards Bruges and further locations. The early morning weather is gray and cold with some rain. For me however, I will be standing in the warehouse for the next five hours. I am not complaining.

After we get to Nieuwpoort I am traveling over new territory. I am following the Silk Purse and we

are headed northeast along the coast of Belgium. I can't actually see the North Sea but if you look in that direction you can see a line of condominiums along the beach. I am told this line of tall buildings covers the entire Belgian coast.

We are traveling on the Plassendale - Nieuwpoort canal and our objective for today is a small town called Oudenburg. We are traveling through farm country and I see a lot of spring activity. Hay is being readied for mulching and I see many dairy cows and sheep. Along the canal there is a good number of water fowl. I enjoy this angle of view of Belgium and imagine that I always will. It is a view that most people will never see.

After passing through the very large lock at Nieuwpoort we will be encountering a string of moving
This is a sliding lock door coming down.
bridges. This section of canal is controlled by a convoy system. Easterly and western traffic begin their crossing at different times in an attempt to coordinate the bridge openings. I don't know how well this works as Silk Purse and Lionel d’Antan are the only traffic we see in either direction. The canal is reinforced on both sides the entire length. This section of canal is certainly suitable for commercial barges but we don’t see any. That will change tomorrow when we get on the canal going to Bruges. So I have yet to have the thrill of passing a large barge and seeing what its wake will do to my smaller boat. Stopping for the night in Oudenburg, a fairly large town. As with most towns, the church steeple is a landmark that you can use to navigate the area. I take my bike towards the center of town and immediately see a grocery store. It is a new name for me: Spegelaere. It is the largest grocery store I have seen thus far in Belgium. The selection is very good and I discover my favorite Post cereal. I buy two boxes. After unloading the groceries at the boat I am off again on the bike to tour the town and out into the countryside.

The wheelhouse is the warm spot on the boat because of the wrap around windows. The day has turned out nice and the wheelhouse is warm. At our location there is free water and electricity. I wish this to be the case everywhere we stop but I know it will not be. Obviously the town put this dock at this location to attract people into town.
Note the pair of nesting birds.

In the evening I spent some time on Silk Purse talking about anything that comes to mind. Always interesting with Barrie and Carole. In the morning we will pull out about 8:30 and head towards Bruges. The Silk Purse has done this trip several times and knows where we can tie-up in town.

Once I am in Bruges, I will write more but a quick summary is that it is a historic town, has been designated so by the UN, and it is a fun town to explore. Mostly surrounded by canals. I have been there several times and I am sure I have not seen all there is to see. Marianne’s great-great-grandfather, a well-known Belgian painter, did a lot of his work in Bruges and if my memory is correct, he was called the painter of Bruges.

The boat has been handling well and sounds good. We have been cruising at about 8 km/h. At that speed I can take the time to see all that is around me but this must be done in quick glances as the boat is quickly affected by wind and my inattention. The following 2 pictures are courtesy of Carole; the second one shows Lionel d'Antan and Silk Purse side by side.



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