We are borrowing someone’s open linksys modem here on a small island between Lock 3 and the wier on the Sambre. Thank You! So no pictures,
Our first full day on the water has been fantastic. After an evening with an older couple who travel for 4-5 months around Belgium and France, who have had so much to do with the water that their interview was as invigorating as it was hearty, we awoke at 6:30 to clear out from the harbour that we had squatted with local encouragement. Thick fog, rumbling trains, strong tea and coffee and a hearty breakfast got us going. The new Yuloh, carved from a Larch plank, works wonderfully and is so stiff that it must be overdimensioned. So we could lose some weight there, Marthe, our co traveller for three days as well as translator, started off the day at war with the infernal oar but finished off very happy with it and its effect on her muscles.
The first lock had us filling in some forms – at least with no fee – and having a wonderful French interview with the lockmaster – 33 years on the job. If he was “boss for a day” his decision would be to increase maintenance and reopen the aqueducts to encourage commercial canal usage along the Sambre – vital for the area, for French-Belgian understanding and the infrastructure that is in place. We have not encountered another vessel on the water all day, but swarms of bike riders and even some galloping horses. Now at Lock 3, 13 km inside Belgium, a long day has come to an end so we can sleep with white noise of the weir and the croaking of frogs. Yesterday we had about 600m of French river before we slid into Belgium – the border was unclear but at least one border crossing within CoC!
Interesting historical feature of the day. Between the weir and the lock Number 1 there was a diagonal depression, which used to be a ship yard dry dock. They would open the top side above the weir to let a boat in, then close it and drain the water out to the level below the lock in order to work on it. To refloat the vessel they would reopen the weir side and away it went. The depression is now tree filled and only recognisable if you are told the story.
Which we were by the most friendly and helpful of lockmasters. Lovely stuff. Locals are always interesting.
Tomorrow we hope to have pictures!