Canal du Centre

Canal du Centre

Friday, May 19, 2017

Pumps, Tides and Join the Club!

Friday morning it was a quick trip to the grocery store to replenish the cupboards and to the hardware store (“brico”) for a pipe wrench to fix the water pump. Back at the boat, disassembling the balky valve we discovered that it had been installed incorrectly in the first place and was only barely working. We’re assuming this was a repair as the pump wouldn’t have come new this way and we have no idea how long it’s been like that. We put the new valve on anyway and kept the old one for a spare. We now have a nearly silent water pump that usually runs for about 30 seconds twice a day, a real pleasure on a small boat where water is usually supplied by demand diaphragm pumps that bang away every time the tap gets turned on.
In the meantime we had become members of the Vlaamse Pleziervaart Federatie, the pleasure boat club of Flanders. They offer a discount on mooring fees and lobby the government for more services for “yachties” like us. We also got one of their fancy yellow burgees, called a wimple here, now flapping gaily from the forward flagsick. We also got a handy guidebook to all the marinas in Flanders and get an occasional magazine that we can’t read, of course, being in Flemish.

This was taken on the Dender. More about that later.

Now we turned to our next task, navigating to the Dender River. About 1 k from the Lier mooring we’d be entering the tidal rivers of Central Belgium. As we discovered with Odysseus in 2008, covering over 90 k in a day, the currents can be fierce and they reverse with the tide, flowing one way when the tide is rising and then the other when it is falling. The problem was that we would be heading toward the ocean on the River Nete and then away on the Schelde so we had to plan carefully. Pencil, paper, tide tables and guidebooks in hand, we figure that if we left Leir about 11 we would reach the junction of the Nete and the Schelde just at low tide just as the current was reversing, about 1 1/2 hours after low tide in Antwerp where the rivers meet the ocean.
Saturday morning we were off, passing through the lock onto the Nete at about 11:30 and zooming off down the river with about a 3 k p per hour boost from the current. Arriving at the Nete/Schelde junction slightly ahead of schedule at 1:30 we turned against the current and our speed dropped to about 5 k. Luckily, just as planned, about 30 minutes later the current reversed and we were back up to about 10 k, steaming our way to the Dender. By 5 pm we arrived at the Dendermonde lock and entered the Dender River, looking forward to several days of beautiful navigation.


  1. Hi Don and Cathy Jo,
    We're heading for Belgium as soon as we can escape from Paris. Hope to catch up with you somewhere.

    What brand is this magical 'nearly silent water pump that usually runs for about 30 seconds twice a day' - We want one!

  2. Hello Adrian!

    Let us know when you get going and your itinerary. We'll be in Belgium for another month or so and then down to France via La Lys from Ghent, we think.
    As for the pump, it's a German brand, although we've found distributors all around, called Speck Pumps. Our particular version is the Pumpmeister with horizontal tank. The only drawback is that it's quite large, but we love it.
    We're following Jennie's postings. Here's hoping the walk of shame has been concluded!


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