Unlike previous years, there are no set dates – besides departure to Oz, that is – ahead, so the aim is slow and enjoy. So, a lazy start behind us, mid – morning it was time to depart upon the Gent Terneuzen Canal for our second year running. From Vlissingen, this is the quickest way for heading into western Belgium.
Unlike this time last year, the canal was teeming with traffic.
European summer has at last arrived: the temperature attained a high of 27 and we were in bliss!
The plan had been to moor at one of the three marinas situated a few kilometres in from the entrance to the Moervaart Canal. The Wachtebeke and Lokeren townships have plenty of nature reserves Bob and I had intended to explore by bike.
On entering the waterway, we were greeted with canal works, opposite which was a fuel depot, then further on a sand depot. It was just past the sand depot that we espied the first of the two marinas. With dirt adrift in the air and my sinuses rapidly beginning to close, it was with disappointment that the decision to back track was made.
Excitement for the day. On our return to the Gent – Terneuzen Canal, we arrived to the point where the entrance was several hundred metres ahead. It was at that stage that the massive frontage of a fuel barge gradually appeared and slowed to almost a stop. Our eyes popped as the monolith commenced pivoting, thereby directing its stern toward our waterway. In position, the vessels then proceeded to reverse into our channel: it was now evident that the plan was for it to moor at the fuel dock situated to our right.
No problems, a fuel barge was moored ahead of us and there was plenty of room for Gratis to slip in behind. Tied securely, we proceeded to watch and wait. Seeing no wash from the prop that one expects when a boat is reversing, it was with curiosity that Bob watched on. As the bow of the barge came into his view, it was possible for him to note that the captain was utilising the bow thrusters to provide the reversing motion.
Barge past, a quick acknowledgement of thanks from the deck hand, it was possible for Gratis to slip out and continue.
Progressing along the canal, there are additional moorings to be found, and a town marina in Lokeren, but a google earth search showed most pontoons were not suitable for Gratis, and past Moerbeke the depth dropped to 1.3m.
Oh well, there are still plenty of other possibilities. For the night, we revisited KYC Gent, a mere 3.5km farther on.