We set of down the River Leie once again on Saturday morning. It was going to be a beautiful day so we figured we’d better get and early start to avoid the major part of the crazy afternoon small boat traffic. First we had to wind through the outskirts of Ghent.
and then pass through the marina we stayed in on our first visit a month ago.
This time, like in 2008, the days trip would end in the town of Deinze where the river meets the Afleidingskanaal van de Leie, the large commercial canal that joins the lower, more commercial section of the river with the Ghent-Oostend canal. Small, with little current and very winding, the upper part of the river takes 26 k to cover the straight line distance of about 15 k. It's is also lined with some of the most expensive real estate in Belgium, with the architecture and grounds to match.
We found the free mooring in Deinze just before the Tollpoortbrug and got ourselves secured just after noon. The weather forecast had things heating up starting Sunday afternoon and we wanted to do some cycling before that.
Deinze’s church with the bridge in the foreground. We were tied up on the other side of the bridge.
The church tower contains an amazing 23 bell carillon the plays a little tune before it strikes the hour and half-hour.
Luckily it doesn’t start playing until 8 in the morning and shuts off after 8 at night. We were only a couple hundred yards away so we could hear it very clearly!
We headed back up the river toward Ghent on the bikes, enjoying the beautiful countryside and using one of the free bicycle ferries to get across the river at one point.
And get hot it did. Into the lower 30’s (the mid 90’s F). It stayed that way for about four days. In fact, the weather has been very pleasant in Belgium this year. A little too pleasant. There’s been no significant rain for several months and things are a little crispy. We found out a couple of days after our Ghent departure that the government has instituted several measures to conserve water, something we Southern Californians are familiar with: among them no washing cars, cutting back on lawn watering and, in some cases, preventing farmers from irrigating their crops. More importantly for us, there’s not enough water to operate the locks so navigation on the tourist-only canals that we traveled earlier has been completely shut down. One boat we’ve been corresponding with was prevented from making the transit from Oudenburg to Veurne, which we did just 2 weeks ago, and will have to return to Ghent before they can head south to France. The larger canals will only operate for the big commercial barges so we have to wait for one to show up before the lock will operate. Luckily there’s been just enough commercial traffic and our waiting has been kept to a minimum.
And we remember sitting in Nevers last year in the pouring rain wondering if it would ever stop!
But for now it was on to Kortrijk where we knew there was a mooring with some shade!