Sat 16th September – we finally got our dander up having checked and rechecked the tide timetables.
I was anxious +++ about going out into a falling tide and being whooshed along! I didn’t sleep at all well Friday night but was rewarded by being up before 7am to watch the sun rise over the nature reserve beside us.
We set off at abut 3pm – through the lock – and into the falling tide – heading for Wintam about 13 kms – where we would moor for the night before continuing the next day on the rising tide. We got up to about 13kph in the tide so it only took around an hour to do this stretch.
The waiting mooring at Wintam is on an extended ferry pontoon on a huge cantilevered arm from the bank which allows the pontoon to rise and fall with the tide. Mooring took a little time as we had to do a ‘Uey’ in the strong tide in order to moor into the current. Took time but beautifully executed and the ferry driver came over to take the ropes. We made quite a cat’s cradle of the ropes – with springers in both directions – because we knew the tide would continue to fall and then turn again during the night. We didn’t want any nasty nocturnal surprises! As t was I didn’t sleep well again, alert to the different water type noises through the night.
The ferry driver turned out to be very helpful and pleasant. Told us that he only works at the ferry a few days a month, his proper job is as a tug boat captain in the port of Antwerp. The ferry operates to take people across the Rupel river and many use it to go to & from work but we saw a lot of cyclists & walkers using it that evening. We went over to the nature reserve – mainly just saw ducks and geese but a lady told us that Spoonbills were known there – so I looked them up in me bird book and discovered that the behaviour I had attributed to egrets (wading with head down, bill in water sweeping from side to side) was actually Spoonbills!
After a bit of nature we headed up to the pub for a beer before rechecking our calculations for the next day & an early night. Next morning we headed off at about 10am, out onto the Boven Seecheldt on a rising tide – not easy to judge when it is just right for the distance we had to go – around 30kms – to get to the Dender river where we decided to take a break and go to visit Aalst, as recommended by Voirrey & Andy on Bella Fortuna.
Fortunately the weather turned most pleasant, warm and sunny, and very little traffic. We did however see quite a few ferries at different places along the way. Passed one commercial that was fully loaded with sand and saw that there were kiddies sand toys in it. One hell of a sandpit!!
It was not always easy to see exactly where we were supposed to go and one bridge was so wide it was almost like entering a tunnel. We were pleased to get off the Schelde, onto the Dender and head for the little town of Aalst for a couple of days.