We left Beez and continued downstream stopping at Huy for the night. We had intended to stop on the riverside in the town but discovered there was a huge fairground all along the right bank so decided not to stop there after all. We went into another mooring, off the main river, in sight of the power station!
The huge commercials powering past sent their wash into the moorings, rocking the moored boats. Adrian was certain that someone had come on board during the night; got up and got himself armed with a stout stick, only to find it was a particularly strong wash!
So then onwards to Liège through a hugely industrial area with factories, quarries, grain silos all being serviced by large (& I do mean large!) barges – around 100m in length and over 11m wide, some doubled up so they are 200m long. And boy can they move! Really have to keep a lookout both fore and aft to make sure you can get well out of their way in plenty of time cos they can’t shift, or stop, quickly.
We had a bit of a wait at the only lock of the day and were then left standing when several pleasure boats dashed into the lock when the commercial barge we’d all been waiting for had gone in – it seems that speed is of the essence – mustn’t keep the lock keepers waiting – so our English ‘lock queuing etiquette’ was well out of order as we were yelled at & called in with gesticulations! The boater in front of us was particularly unpleasant, ‘oh you’re English! Mustn’t keep lock keeper waiting!’ etc etc – not that we gloated when he couldn’t get his rope off efficiently to leave! and, of course, we saw him several times thereafter.
But we liked Liège. Nice sized town with quite a lot to see. The mooring basin reminded me a bit of the Arsenal in Paris. We just got into a space leaving behind us free for a passenger boat which comes in overnight. We were moored behind ‘Moondance’, a barge sporting a kiwi flag and the Women on Barges pennant. I joined the WOBs earlier this year but this was the first pennant I had seen on an unknown boat. So, when we came back from a wander around the town and dinner, I said hello to the occupants – Deborah & Howard – and we went on board for coffee. They told us that the Capitaine had been looking for us as another passenger boat also had to come in and we were in the way! Oooops! We were out, so that boat was rafted up a little further along. We had checked at the Capitainerie that we were moored ok, but it seems no one had mentioned the second passenger boat…..
Next day we went wandering some more and then went with Deborah and Howard to see the son et lumière display in the courtyard of the Bishops’ Palace in the evening. A very impressive display although it was nearly impossible to hear or understand the commentary, even though it was in french. The display included a modern dance group and a couple of illuminated stilt-walkers but none of us were sure that either added anything to the whole, but a novel twist no less.
We left Liège and Moondance on Thursday morning hoping to see both again sometime.
Out of Liège brings you onto the beginning of the Albert Kanaal complete with statue of himself at the entrance. Even more large scale industry and large scale commercial barges. Adrian reckons it’s like being on the M25, on a bike, cos we are such small-fry in comparison! Eyes need to be everywhere as this big boys really move at a hell of lick!
We decided to avoid a stretch of the Albert Kanaal by going into Holland, to Maastricht, and then going back into Belgium. Not a big deviation but involves going through the Ecluse Lanaye. HUGE isn’t in it! Drops about 15m, so we have done deeper, but we have never seen 4 different lock chambers – told to go to lock number 3 when we radioed in (!!!) – one of which must be over 400m long as we saw 4 big barges come out in single file! Amazing.