We decided against carrying on down from Mechelen to Leuven as we thought it would be good to tackle the tidal stretch sooner rather than later. So on Tuesday 12th Sept we moved back up the Kanaal to the Zennegatsluis, the sea lock which takes you into the tidal stretch that would take us to Dendemonde and then onto Ghent. We wanted to have some time to ‘watch’ the tidal levels on the other side of the lock so that we could check our understanding of the timings of the flows. We came along behind a ‘meccano’ solar powered boat. I later learnt that Pieter had built this entirely himself, mainly from theatre set equipment. His next aim is to replace the tent with a cabin! But I digress!
We moored up in the 24hr waiting area and went to have a good look at the river beyond by bike (!).
Our plan to head off on Weds was scuppered by an overnight storm and gusting winds all day. I went to watch a commercial go through and it was literally crabbing down the river as the currents hit it from all directions. Not a good omen; so we decided to wait until Thursday. Then I had a migraine. Not a good omen; so we decided to wait until Friday. Then we were told about a cafe / bar by the lock that had music (blues / swing) that evening. A good omen; so we decided to wait until Saturday!
And it is an interesting place to be. There are a line of live-aboards with what seems like a real community feel. Different boats moor up for a few days at a time and commercials pull in to wait for the right tide to go through the lock. There is also a row of houses beside the lock . The road / towpath is busy with local traffic, walkers, runners, cyclists and many birdwatchers.
A wetland area between two waterways is being developed / encouraged and numerous feathered visitors are taking full advantage. With my trusty RSVP bird book I have been trying to identify what I can see: gulls, ducks (various), geese (Canada & other), heron, egret (great white), cormorant, lapwing and snipe. And there are numerous coots on the canal itself – noisy, aggressive little coots! What I thought was another egret turned out to be Spoonbill – recognisable by the ‘head down, beak in water and sweep head from side to side’ behaviour that I saw with the binoculars.
So we have been busy here beside the lock: birdwatching, bike practising and going to the pub. The music turned out to be an american duo singing and playing old style blues songs. Good beer and very packed with locals!