Canal du Centre

Canal du Centre

Friday, June 16, 2017

Veurne, Brugges and on to Ghent, June 5-10

We’d been watching the weather forecasts and it looked like Tuesday was going to be rainy and very windy so we planned to spent the day dockside in Veurne. We did find the remaining free mooring just before the Ieperbrug and were tied up about 1 pm, plenty of time to make it into town for the Bloomenmarkt. We pictured something more grand in the main market square but it was mostly just stalls selling plants, although there was a raptor show with hawks and falcons, and and accordion band performance that was surprisingly bland. 

After strolling though the stalls we stopped at one of the cafes on the square for a beer. First we saw the Champion Belleman Joris Goens, who we met when we stopped here in 2008. He remembered us and commented on the picture of him we had posted on the Odysseus blog. We also decided that there must be some city functionary whose responsibility it is to find the “unusual” attractions for the city events. In 2008 it was the Kamelot Super de Lukse. This time it was the Goose Parade.

‘Round the Market Square they marched.

Tuesday morning the forecast came true. We woke to howling wind and spitting rain. Luckily we had a secure mooring because the wind was gusting into the 40 mph range. We managed to get out for an hour or so in the afternoon to do a little shopping but mostly it was a good day to huddle inside and get some reading done.
Wednesday morning the rain had stopped but it was overcast and the wind was still up; maybe not quite as strong as Tuesday but still pretty fierce. We set off through the bridges on the Nieuwpoort-Dunkirk Canal, many of which have good waiting places nearby. We were making good progress until the Veurnesluice (the lock in Nieuwpoort) when there was a problem. It’s a tidal lock so there are two sets of doors on each end so the lock can either go up or down depending on the state of the tide. There’s also an opening bridge on one end. The whole thing needs to work in sequence for safety’s sake. They had a little bit of trouble getting the bridge open but finally got it up and we entered the lock with another boat. Unfortunately, the bridge wouldn’t lower all the way so the waiting began. They tried “bouncing” the bridge (all of this happens from a central control station that handles the three sea locks in the Nieuwpoort complex) but had no luck. Finally, the lockkeeper came down and told us the technical people had been called and we’d just have to wait. Luckily we were in the lock and out of the wind. About 1 pm things got straightened out and we were on our way.
About 3:30 we grabbed a pontoon mooring in the village of Snaaskerke and held on, watching the whitecaps roll down the canal.

Thursday the sun was out and the wind had dropped a little further. The opening bridges were all waiting for us as we approached and it looked like we might get into Brugges in time for lunch until the Dammeportsluis when, again, there was a problem. This time they couldn’t get a door open so we had to tie up and wait. There was a commercial barge waiting too so we knew there wouldn’t be an unnecessary delay. A little over an hour later they got the door opened so we entered the lock. A little after 2 we were snug again in Brugges’ Coupure mooring. We heard later that afternoon that they had more trouble with the lock and as we were bicycling past after a visit to the grocery they had divers in the water trying to fix the problem. Friday morning commercial barges were speeding past the Coupure entrance so all was well.
We spent Friday in Brugges, just because we could. Cathy Jo’s brother and sister-in-law wife were due in Ghent on Tuesday for a visit and that left us plenty of time to enjoy one last day in this beautiful city.
We left the Coupure at 9 on Saturday morning with 8 other boats. Unfortunately, we were the only boat headed east so we had to wait the obligatory 1 hour before they would open the first bridge as there was no other traffic. 10 o’clock we were through the first of the 4 bridges out of Brugges, the Ghentpoortbrug and by 4 pm we were tied up in the spot we had reserved in the Lindenlei moorings in the center of Ghent. We made a deal with the havenmeester for a weeks stay and relaxed with a glass of our favorite beverage.


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  3. Ian McCauleyJune 16, 2017 at 4:09 PM
    A nice complementarity, as I read your blog, we are finishing ours in the reverse direction from last year. How wonderful to see a goose procession! Lucky youse. This year, our aim will be to finally (on our fourth visit) be in Veurne for market day - and to fill the bilges with provisions from Colryut.


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