Having had very little experience with traveling though canals and locks, it was with considerable trepidation that I first entered the Belgian canal system at Nieuwpoort.
Reading several guidebooks did little to instill a sense of confidence. In fact it had just the opposite effect. I am now convinced that good “lockmanship” is not something that can be attained through theoretical study.
Judging by the number of bruised pleasure craft making their way through the inland waterways (and I confess to having had my share of bumps), passing “applied locks 101” is no trivial matter.
Belgium provides a forgiving environment for the inexperienced because relatively few locks partition a days cruise. Moreover, help is always close at hand if things go “pear-shaped” because every lock has an operator.
This proved to be an ideal training ground. The experience fortified me for what was to come in the French waterways, where I traversed as many as 32 locks (near Epinal) in a single day.
My route took me through Bruge, Gent, and the outskirts of Antwerp, Turnhout (my registered home port), Hasselt, Liege, Namur and Dinant before reaching France.
There are no official entries in my journal because my original detailed log now resides on a deceased hard drive that despite heroic efforts, has resisted all attempts at resuscitation.
I could still use a professional recovery service but at this point I just can’t justify the expense.