Our Barge, Odysseus

Monday, July 07, 2008

How to Make Odysseus Go 12 Km per Hour

We picked Lier for our stop because our friend Tim Minnear and his son Michael would be joining us after landing in Brussels. We read Lier had good train connections with the capital city. Correct. The train runs every half hour. But the town's boat tie-up is out in the middle of nowhere, quite a hike from the train station. And of course it was raining. But we managed to schlep their bags and two bike loads of groceries to the boat without getting too wet and prepared for out next journey, down the Netekanaal and onto the tidal Nete River and then up the Dijle River to the town of Mechelen. Yeh, right.
The tidal part of these rivers means that you have to plan your trip based on high and low tides and the currents they produce (we're pretty close to the ocean here and, though the rivers are brackish, they do rise and fall). It's right after the new moon so the tides are at their most extreme and we would be going downstream on the Nete and up on the Dijle to reach Mechelen. We thought we had it all figured out, leaving at 7 am instead of our usual 9 am, but I knew we were in trouble when the gps showed we were going 11.5 km down the Nete instead of our usual 8. Sure enough, when we turned up the Dijle we were down to about 3.5 km an hour or less. No way were we going to make Mechelen. The only choice was to turn downstream and head for Ghent, even though it was about 60 km away. When you're making 10 to 11 km it won't take so long. When we reached the Schelde River we had to turn upstream so we found a dock to tie up to for a couple of hours until the tide turned and then headed off to Ghent.
On the way we passed the village of Temse with the usual blend of old and new.

At about 7:45 pm and over 90 km traveled we pulled into the lock that separates the tidal part of the River Scheldt from the canalized part. Once we were through we tied up to the lock wall and barbecued some sausages. They would have to pass for our 4th of July hot dogs.
And once again we were in the company of the two American boats. We'd taken different routes to get there but ended up in the same place.
We left the wall the next morning at about 9 am and by 10 we were tied up in the center of Ghent, ready for a weekend in the city.

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