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Old 04-13-2016, 01:26 PM   #21
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Rambler,

Great post and thank you for the update and info. I know you both are enjoying your cruise.

Wow that is wild about the diesel fuel. I would love to have some Green Diesel on St. Patrick's Day! Just kidding.

Cheers Mate and be safe.

Happy cruising to the both of you.

H. Foster
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Old 04-13-2016, 03:03 PM   #22
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Today we cruised the oldest canal in Europe ! Only 8 kilometres long. (photo).
Before the sea receded and the port of Dunkirk was built, the town of Bergues was an ancient tidal trading port, the canal was built in the 9th century to provide easier access, in the 16th century it was renovated by the then ruler of this region, King Phillipe of Spain.
Food, fine lace, textiles, bricks & tiles were the main exports from the port.

It got severely damaged in 2 world wars, the Germans dynamited the belfry tower and it was rebuilt again after the war, it houses 50 bells of various sizes which play a carillon (tune) on the hour.
(photo).
The old pawnbrokers building now houses the towns museum.
The town has always been fortified and much of the old walls and the original moat survive to this day. (photo).
The fortifications were 'modernised' by the French military defence architect, Msr Vauban.
The town is very very pretty and we really enjoyed our visit, we met some old friends and made some new ones.

Next we travel the canal du Furness up to, and across, the Belgian border. As we leave France we also lose our permanent Wi Fi so our posts may be a bit erratic until we get another system organised.
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Old 04-22-2016, 04:46 PM   #23
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The canal Furness parallels the sea up as far as Neuiwport in Belgium but we will turn off so we can visit Ypres..
The land around here is very flat (the fields are called Polders), the water table is about 2 feet down.
The weather for our journey is bright & sunny but there's a cold North wind blowing across the flat land that would cut corn so up on the flybridge it's kinda chilly round the nether regions.
Despite the heavy clothing were wearing trips on the long straight sections allowed us to use the lower helm.
Of course it's early boating season here, were trying to get to Amsterdam in the first week in May and so far we haven't seen another private boat.


Arriving in Belgium at the canal port of Vuerne we were immediately impressed by how very neat & clean everything is. (photo's).
As the first port of call in Belgium we must show the ships papers and get a cruising permit (vignette) which set us back 80 euro's for 3 months, the port captain spoke excellent English and was extremely helpful and warmly welcomed us to Belgium and wished us 'Happy Cruising in our country'.
When we left the port we cruised the Lokannal, then took a shorter link canal to join the canalised Itzer/Ieper Canal to Ieper, on the way we saw our first working windmill and slope sided lock. photo's
What is most impressive is how each lock keeper who managed a section of the canal was there to open the lift bridges for us to pass unhindered & prepare locks for our arrival always with a cheery wave and 'I see you next place OK'.
Each lock keeper 'handed us over' to his college and we were royally looked after all the way to Ieper. Brilliant.
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Old 04-22-2016, 06:11 PM   #24
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As you may know, in Belgium they speak either Flemish(similar to French) or Walloni which is more Dutch orientated, 90% speak English very well so that will explain the two names for the same place.
Of course during the last war the British soldiers gave Ypres the slang name of Wipers they weren't so good at the accents.
Many soldiers passed through the Menin gate in the fortified wall of Ypres to go to the Ypres salient and the allied front line to fight in what must have been the worst slaughter of mankind.
So bloody was this war that a young English man named Winston Churchill commissioned the design of a land battle cruiser to break the bloody stalemate, the code name was 'Tank' if you read the post Ireland to the Mediterranean part 1 where we visited the Tank museum in Bovington you will see those early tanks.
It was decided after the war to build a permanent memorial in brick and Portland stone to the fallen.
A local Superintendant of the Ypres police, Mr P Vandembraambussche came up with the idea of sounding 'The Last Post' as a tribute to those men who lost their lives and had no known grave.
The privilege of playing 'The Last Post' was given to the local volunteer fire brigade and a daily ceremony has taken place since 1928 at 8 pm every evening whatever the weather and draws crowds of up to 2,000 people.
The only break in this tradition came during the German occupation from 20 May 1940 until 6th of September when it was played at Brookwood Military cemetery in Surrey instead.
When the Polish forces liberated the town it was again played despite heavy fighting still in the town and the bullet marks can still be seen on the memorial.
I first attended the ceremony in the 70's in command of a guard of honour and vowed one day to return.
Apologies some of the photo's are a bit poor but I only had one shot and everyone one was jostling for the same photos.


Origins of 'The Last Post'
The tradition of sounding a bugle or drum at various stages of the day originated in the British army.
Reveille wake up call comes from the French word Reveiller, meaning 'to wake up'.
At various times of the day inspections and a bugle calls would be made at each sentry post.
During the time the British army was on campaign in the Netherlands they adopted the Dutch custom called Taptoe, over later years this became known as Tattoo.
Tap den toe (Taptoe) was sounded around the taverns and literally means 'turn the taps off' so the soldiers could have no more drink.

Last Post comes from the tradition of the officer inspecting each sentry post and at the final one the bugler would sound 'Last Post' warning that all soldiers should be back in their billets.
'The Last Post' symbolises the end of a soldiers day insofar as the dead soldier has finished his duty and can rest in peace and Reveille celebrates his new life with the Lord.
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Old 04-22-2016, 06:31 PM   #25
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Ypres, continued...
While there I also found Celtic cross memorial to the Irish who also gave their all.
Some photo's of the beautiful town of Ypres.
Photo's of a British Vickers machine gun, German Spandau machine gun, German 'Potato Masher' hand grenade. British mills 36 hand grenade (it a bit like chocolate, when the wrapper comes off everybody gets a bit).
Pride of place for me was when I was able to buy a cap badge of my old regiment in a memorabilia shop.
There are also organised tours of the Ypres salient battlefield for the interested visitor
One thing strikes you is how clean and well kept everything is and how friendly and helpful the local people are despite the enormous amount of visitors.
An absolutely a 'Must See'.
It's a heart moving tribute and brings a tear to your eye and the hair on the back of your neck stand up.
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Old 04-22-2016, 06:48 PM   #26
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Ypres,,,, continued.
Between 'The Last Post bugle call and Reveille an exhortation is read by a visiting person.


They grow not old, as we that are left grow old,
Age shall not weary them, nor the years condemn,
At the going down of the sun and in the morn,
WE WILL REMEMBER THEM.


As we leave Ypres to follow our planned route here are some photo's en route to, and through the city of Bruges.
Because the land is flat cyclists seem to swarm everywhere.


Our days start at 6 with a quick cuppa, engine checks and cast of at 7 am, most days it's around 7/8 pm when we moor up as we try to make good progress.
Our route is tortuous but as you will see later well worth it.
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Old 04-22-2016, 07:15 PM   #27
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Bruges, known in Belgium as their little Venice and boat trips around the city are popular.
Everywhere we see people working and there's a buzz in the air, these people mean business and from the canal side we see the back of factories, normally untidy, here everything is kept pristine, the canal banks are well managed and there's no pollution in the canal, no litter, no graffiti.
This is a cruising area well worth visiting.
Here are some photo's through Bruges.
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Old 04-23-2016, 02:14 AM   #28
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If you follow the black line I've put on this map it will give you a better understanding of our circuitous route.
We travelled via Bruges and joined the canal Ghent Oostende, what is known as the 'route maritime superior' which runs from the Dutch Scheldt to Paris, a veritable marine motorway.
Choke points are having new locks built to ease progress and the canal banks strengthened, despite all this commercial traffic I can't get over how well it's managed and maintained, it's a credit to the waterways management team, no pollution, no graffiti, all the trees manicured and banks trimmed and neat.
These waterways are well worth visiting.
So far we've seen just two leisure boats, one hire and one private cruiser.
As we pass Kortrijk were within 25 kilometres of Ypres on the other side of the salient.


This is a very famous poem (photo) written by a Canadian, Major John McCrae, called Flanders fields.


We also pass near Armentieres, there's a famous song about a young girl who helped out in her grandmothers café in the town of Armentieres.
This young girl dispensed so much joy to the troops with her liberal dispensation of sexual favours, a bawdy song was written and it goes like this.
(This is just a couple of the many verses in the printable version)


Oh Mademoiselle from Armentieres parlez vous,
Oh Mademoiselle from Armentieres parlez vous,
She's got the palm and Croix de guerre,
For washing the soldiers underwear,
Inky Dinky parlez vous.


Oh Mademoiselle from Armentieres parlez vous,
Oh Mademoiselle from Armentieres parlez vous,
She's the hardest working girl in town,
She makes her living upside down,
Inky dinky parlez vous.


Oh Mademoiselle from Armentieres parlez vous,
Oh Mademoiselle from Armentieres parlez vous,
She'll do it for wine she'll do it for rum,
And sometimes chocolate or chewing gum,
Inky dinky parlez vous.

Is this a myth, a figment of soldiers imagination ?

No, the young lady in question despite her background or maybe because of, she met a theatrical agent of 47 when she was just 16, she moved in with him and started another career in the theatre as an actress.
She's now in her very well preserved eighties and does guest appearances on French television and her name is Lin Renaud.

Up until now the barges have been from 350 tonnes to 1,000 tonnes. This route is so busy there's a barge passing about every 15 minutes and some of them are near 2,000 tonnes, that's the equivalent of 100 trucks.
The cargoes are sand, gravel, scrap metal, shipping containers, cereals, cement etc.

As we travel this route, vigilance is the watchword, we are only tiny minnows as we tuck into the massive locks behind the big boys.
You must NEVER release your lines until these big guys have left the lock because the turbulence from their props will whirl you round like a spinning top.
99% of the barges are pristine, the crews are always washing, cleaning, painting.
No outside footwear is permitted inside, it's so clean as to be near surgical in the bridge, engine room and accommodation, as they live and work on them it's a real credit to their professionalism.
Talk about a real eye opener cruising these canals, it's just brilliant.
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Old 04-23-2016, 03:26 AM   #29
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Irish Rambler View Post
...Between 'The Last Post bugle call and Reveille an exhortation is read by a visiting person.


They grow not old, as we that are left grow old,
Age shall not weary them, nor the years condemn,
At the going down of the sun and in the morn,
WE WILL REMEMBER THEM.
Thank you, the moving recitation with the "Last Post" is especially poignant for Australians and New Zealanders, about to observe ANZAC Day, on April 25.
ANZAC Day initially related to events at Gallipoli in Turkey, and WW 1. A dawn service, attended by numerous Australians and Turks, is held at Gallipoli in Turkey each year. It is our national day to honour our veterans, and the fallen, of the theatres of war in which Australians have served. Marches of returned veterans are held across the nation, crowds gather to cheer them on.
So thank you, Aussies and New Zealanders will appreciate your timely post.
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Old 04-23-2016, 09:16 AM   #30
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G'day Bruce.
Yes I know, I've a son proudly serving in R.A.A.F.
It's why we've been driving so hard to be there, take the photo's, witness it and get it up on line for that very reason.
Sadly there are 5 battalions of Australia's finest commemorated on the walls at Ypres and I think I counted 3 battalions of Kiwi brothers in arms.
Glad you appreciated the effort and know your fallen are definitely not forgotten even though we are on the opposite sides of the world.
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Old 04-23-2016, 10:00 AM   #31
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There are several ways for a canal to get over obstacles, one is to make a viaduct across a valley, the other is to follow the contour of a hill and go around it, to compensate for gradients, locks take steps up and down like steps of stairs.

Sometimes there a bigger problem which needs a new approach in thinking to overcome it, here's one of them.
The old lift it superseded is in the first photo.


It's called Strepy Theiu, click on the map above to enlarge it, it's just like an elevator and a marvel of engineering, at the moment it's the largest in the world but I believe that China is going to/or is building a larger one.


Here's the photo's to show the lift.

Entry into.
The cables to lift us up.
Various levels.
Exiting from the top level.

Wow, an unbelievable experience, absolutely not to be missed.
This is some trip and just gets better every day.
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Old 04-23-2016, 10:19 AM   #32
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Greetings,
Mr. IR. Fascinating travelogue. Thanks. As an aside, hydraulic lift locks are not new technology. Perhaps that particular system is a new application.
Parks Canada - Trent-Severn Waterway National Historic Site - Lock 21 - Peterborough Lift Lock
Opened in 1904.
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Old 04-23-2016, 12:42 PM   #33
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Your perfectly correct RT.
The lift at Strepy Thieu is a counterbalance using the Archimedes principle which has a height difference of 240 ft and can take barges up to 1,370 tonnes.


The canal technology in America was first started by a Swedish born British officer, Colonel John Christian Senf who was captured and went on to become the Chief engineer for Carolina.
Later an Englishman, Mr William Weston was invited over and became the engineer and later consultant for many of America's canals.
Obama's over in Ireland and Britain at the moment and we'll gladly send him back FOC. !
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Old 04-23-2016, 01:21 PM   #34
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The next target on our 'To Do' list is the inclined plane at Roquerres.
It's listed on the Belgian map in the above post if you click to enlarge it.

What sparked my interest in inclined planes was when, as chairman of the Northern Ireland branch of the Inland Waterways Association of Ireland, we were all involved in reopening old canals.
There is a closed canal in County Tyrone called the Coalisland canal and it was used to transport coal from Drumglass colliery to Dublin.
It was unusual in Ireland as it had 3 inclined planes.
Designed by a Sicilian called Daviso De Arcort, he soon got the given the name of Dukart as it was easier to pronounce for the locals.
The coal went via barge to Lough Neagh, then to Dublin via the Balllinamore Ballyconnel and Grand canals.

The advent of the railways and cheap imports of Welsh coal were the death knell for the canals.
The inclined plane at Ronquerres travels for 1,432 metres with a lift of 67.73 metres, each caisson is 299 ft. long x 39 ft. wide and 12 ft. deep.
The cables which are 4,860 ft. long driven by eight electric motors, the counter balance weight is 5,200 tonnes and it travels at 3.9 ft. per second.


Both the Strepy Theiu lift and Ronquerres inclined plane use counter balances driven by electric motors not hydraulics.
Both are a truly wonderful experience and I wouldn't have missed it for all the tea in China.


Here are the photo's.
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Old 04-23-2016, 01:29 PM   #35
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Originally Posted by Irish Rambler View Post
Bruges, known in Belgium as their little Venice and boat trips around the city are popular. ...
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Old 04-23-2016, 04:17 PM   #36
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City: NARBONNE
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We spent a night in Boom before leaving the canal system to navigate the estuarial river Schelde to the city of Antwerp.
Although we'd been pushing hard to see all we wanted it was time for a little R&R in the Jachthaven.
So far overnight moorings have cost around 10 Euro, here in Jachthaven right in the centre of Antwerp it's 24 Euro inc electricity and water.
Some photo's of in and around Antwerp.
The entrance lock.
Massive floating crane.
Rhine river cruiser.
An abominable tinted glass and chrome eyesore stuck on top of a classical building like a cancerous growth, god knows what the architect was smoking when he thought it up.
Greenpeace boat 'Sea Shepherd' in dazzle camouflage paint.
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Old 04-26-2016, 01:45 PM   #37
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Here are some photo's of the main square in Antwerp and a map of our progress to the Dutch border.

Arriving into Antwerp we had to lock in, and boy did they squeeze the boats in the lock ! we had to go diagonal so they could close the gates behind us.
The buildings in Antwerp are just beautiful, once again I'm happy to say everything is as clean as a new pin.


Just look at the range of Belgian beers on sale, some of them are 11% strength and it fairly screws up the internal GPS for getting home.


Of course we found an Irish bar !
The photo's of the artefacts are genuine. I can remember having a pint or two in McAllister's bar in Ballymena, they used to brew whiskey and bottle Guinness from the wooden cask but that all done away with now.
McAllister's a popular family name in County Antrim.


For Evelyne's birthday 2 years ago we went on a conducted tour of the Bushmills whiskey factory, we didn't drive home !
Jameson's is well recommended too, as is Tullamore Dew..


After a superb meal we dandered back to the harbour and bless my soul we wandered through the 'Red Light' district, it's window shopping with live models displaying their best assets !
There were girls of every shape and size all wearing a big smile a little else.


As the girls were with us we weren't allowed to linger...neither were we allowed to take photo's !


Our impressions of Belgium ? Absolutely fantastic experience, everything beautifully well kept, neat & clean, industrious hard working people who always treated us in friendly, helpful way.
Very highly recommended.
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Old 04-26-2016, 02:48 PM   #38
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Antwerp is a city that never sleeps, at any time of the day or night you can hear ships, barges and tug engines of all sizes.
The port is massive and it took us two hours just to cruise through it to join the canal to the Dutch border.


Here are photo's of ships in port.


We followed the canal and joined the Krammer, a large inland portion of the Dutch estuary, unfortunately the weather was absolutely terrible with biting cold North winds and heavy showers, that of course turned the water into a Force 3/4, totally unexpected for this trip.

Arriving at the lock we were directed to a 'Sport' Sluis (Lock) at the side of the 4 main locks, it was massive, the locks here work 24 hours a day because of the volume of barge traffic.

We found an overnight stop at a waiting jetty and called it a day, we were brass monkeys so one of Geraldine's famous hot curries gave us central (h)eating.

Nearby is the town of Steenbergen.
If you've seen the film 'The Dambusters', if you haven't you should, you'll remember the Lancaster bomber raid on the Moehne, Eider and Sorpe dams was led by Wing Commander Guy Gibson.
After the raid he was taken off active service duty and for a year carried out pr work in the UK and America.
He hated the razzamatazz and asked to be returned to active service, while flying a Mosquito, returning from a reconnaissance flight he was shot down and crashed near Steenbergen where he is buried with his navigator.
Here are some photo's of his final resting place.
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Old 04-26-2016, 03:10 PM   #39
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Our first introduction to Holland wasn't the most welcoming, the shocking weather was not what we expected in our planning.
Just look at the frozen hailstones on the canvas boat cover in the last photo.


Undaunted we traversed the long Hollands Diep, as always in the company of barges up to the town of Dordrecht, the oldest town in Holland.
Here we plan to pass a couple of days to let the weather window pass through.


Here are some photo's of,
Our route so far, companion barges, ships scrapyard, hotel barge flies a courtesy flag for it's American guests.
Around Dordrecht.
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Old 04-26-2016, 10:18 PM   #40
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City: NARBONNE
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Here we take a look back, not at photo's this time but of helpful tips and observations.


For canal maps of Belgium if you email pbv@binnenvart.be or www.watercreatie.be they will post maps out to you f.o.c.
Don't buy a Fluviacarte canal map of Belgian waterways, they aren't up to date and even some basic details are missing.

For Holland we're using Imray's 'Inland waterways of the Netherlands' by Louise Busby and David Broad along with several overall European maps.


What did we miss out in our planning ?
We don't have a flybridge windscreen for our boat because in the South of France the bridges are very low (2.90 metres) and cause problems, in hindsight we should have had a collapsible one made in Ireland before we left, even dressed in winter clothes with more layers than an onion it's still very cold, due to a late spring and the wind chill factor.
Having a second helm below is great but because of the heavy barge traffic you need eyes in your fundamental orifice so we have to spend most of the time on the flybridge. Suntan ? No it's wind burn and rust !
Other than that were very comfortable so far.


What's been most beneficial ?
Having a safe, reliable and comfortable boat, we bought 'Snow Mouse' as an ex hire boat in the full knowledge that it would need upgrading and that was reflected in the price of course.
Our friend Pat Butler has been an enormous help in the engineering side and the rest we'll upgrade as and when the situation suits.
Our new design using a Morse 1700 series as an all in one single lever gear/throttle/bow thruster lever makes close quartering manoeuvres so easy with total control, in short it's fantastic, contact Parks Masterson (commercial member) for prices and details.


Best company support ?
We bought a larder type fridge from Penguin refrigeration and they've been excellent in getting us exactly what we wanted, in budget, on time with full technical back up, highly recommended.
Adverc in Birmingham, England are also head and shoulders above the rest.
I had an Adverc alternator controller on a previous boat and it was brilliant so we fitted one to 'Snow Mouse'.
We also changed the alternator from an 60 amp AC Lucas to a Bosch 110 amp because we needed a higher output and spares for an AC Lucas are impossible to get in Europe.
The Bosch alternator needed a slight modification to the regulator and Adverc in Birmingham offered us a choice, a new modified 110 amp Bosch alternator for £40 plus p&p, or, if we took off the regulator and posted it to them they would modify it and post it back same day for £10.
Terrific, friendly service with total customer back up.
All Adverc products are made on their premises in England unlike some which are Taiwanese made and badged Sterling.


Best find ? Bacon, I love it and it shows in my shape, cuddly.
You can only buy belly pork in France, in Belgium you can buy streaky bacon at Delhaize supermarket chain and in Holland you can buy proper back bacon in most supermarkets, mmm delicious.
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