Having put a temporary piece of wire (engineering equivalent of an elastoplast) on the thruster motor, we finally left Flandria, Bruges on Monday 23rd April, in convoy with David on Carmen, heading for Ypres. Beautiful day if a little windy.
I have said before how much I enjoy approaching big cities by water – Bruges is no exception (even if we were actually leaving this time). Going around Bruges on the Kanaal van Gent naar Oostende (waterway equivalent of its M25) you have to negotiate 6 lifting bridges and 1 lock. Each can take time as the lock keepers obviously have to stop the road traffic and open the bridge or lock – and precedence is always given to any commercials. And Bruges is very busy with tourists – you only have to look at the coach park near the marina. So it took us nearly 2 hours, just to get out of Bruges. We came past Katelijnepoort, Gentpoort & Dammepoort (city gates & main routes into the city. There are also a series of 4 windmills along the canal.
The lifting bridges are quite an impressive sight – particularly the last one, Scheepsdalebrug.
We did this section with Voirrey and Andy back in November so we knew where we wanted to stop for our first night – Stahille – where there is a nice restaurant right beside the moorings. And,of course, we rewarded ourselves with dinner at said establishment!
Tues we went onwards to Nieuwport and moored at a very windy marina – really close to the sea here so no wonder its windy. We didn’t walk into Nieuwport as we were all rather tired and decided to do so another time. Interesting coming out of Nieuwpoort, through a lock and across a wide expanse of water to reach the entrance to the river Ijzer – pretty little river.
On Wednesday we went onto Diksmuide (next blog will cover Diksmuide) where we moored for 2 nights. Piedaleau had developed another problem – reverse gear not always engaging at the lower driving position, which makes it very difficult to slow down or stop! Not good when you need to wait for bridges to be opened and its cold & windy! Poor Adrian ended up running up top to use the reverse up there for bridges and then come back into the warm to continue driving! So on Weds David and Adrian were once again trying to problem solve and sort the reverse gear issue with more telephone calls to & from the UK. Eventually managed to sort it out. David’s engineering skills are being most helpful.
Friday saw us all up and at it to get an early(ish) start before the wind really got going. A lovely stretch of canal with lots of wildlife – never seen so many Great Crested Grebe! Unfortunately they are not the easiest to photograph, dive just as you get them in your sights, but I did try!
PS David is single handed on his beautiful 25m Luxemotor barge and is looking for crew!