Canal du Centre

Canal du Centre

Thursday, May 11, 2017

Retracing Our Steps, May 7-9

The locks on the Bocholt-Herentals Canal don’t open until 10 am on Sunday and since we’d be entering our first lock of the day right after turning around and exiting the Beverlo Canal, we got a civilized start. 9 locks later we squeezed through the entrance to the Herentals Yacht Club and tied up. The harbormaster told us the grocery store was closed on Sunday so we’d have to stay until Tuesday. We were dangerously short on provisions. I kind of chuckled thinking back to our first trip down this canal. We did 9 locks in a day! We were probably pretty chuffed. Little did we know when we got to France that would be an easy day.
The reason we had to squeeze into the basin was because the yacht club was holding their “opening day” party and they were using the free pontoon on the main channel to load up locals for boat rides up and down the canal. We didn’t mind too much because it put us right next to the bar and the party was on! The place was packed! This is the Belgium we remember! Duvel all around!
The highlight of the afternoon was a performance by the local sea chanty group. It was 2007’s Shantykoor all over again, except with just one group and stronger beer!

Notice the jackets? It was still only about 50 degrees.

Monday morning we biked about 5 minutes along the canal to the closest grocery store and stocked up. That gave us the afternoon free to walk into town. It was still pretty cold but we were able to enjoy the sites of Herentals, a town of about 26,000 residents, including the belfry at the city hall

and the church.

Unfortunately the church was all locked up so we couldn’t take a look at the interior.

Tuesday morning we were off again through the Herentals lock and on to the mighty Albert Canal, the equivalent to an interstate highway between Liege and Antwerp, with giant barges playing the role of 18 wheelers. Luckily we only had to travel about 10 k so we cranked up Mister Daf and did it in just 1 hour. We exited the Viersel lock onto the Nete Canal about noon and were tied up on the pontoon in Lier a little after 1 pm. Tomorrow we would have all of the ingredients necessary to deal with the huge basked of dirty laundry lurking in the bedroom closet; water, electricity and sun!

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