2015 European waterway cruise – Belgium – Antwerp towards Liege via Turnhout

Leaving Willemdok via Londonbrug

On Thursday morning I arranged with the havenmeester for the opening of Londonbrug and Siberiabrug.

Probably not necessary as a whole
heap of boats left at the same time at 10 o’clock.

At Siberiabrug there was a 20 minute delay while they fixed a problem with the bridge.

Sluis 10 at Shoten

Once through that bridge we headed towards the Albert Kanaal. At Straatsdokbrug I was required to ‘afmeld’ or report out of Antwerp Harbour, via VHF channel 20.

I tried with my newly repaired VHF and successfully made initial contact, but then it all went wrong and they simply could not hear me, although I could hear them.

Eventually I reported out via mobile phone. To this date, I still am not sure what the problem is with the VHF.

Lift bridge on Dessel-Schoten canal

Anyway, after a short distance on the Albert Kanaal we branched off into the Dessel-Shoten-over-Turnhout Kanaal and straight into the first lock, Schoten No 10.

Here we purchased the required Vignet or licence for the Flanders canals.

I bought the so called short term one as we were passing through and would only be in Belgium a couple of weeks. Cost – Euro 40.

One of many locks on the Dessel-Schoten canal

Belgium is divided horizontally more or less in half, Flanders(Dutch speaking) in the north and Wallonia (French speaking) in the south.

The vignet or licence that I had just bought was to cover the Flanders section as far as Liege.

According to the Belgian Inland Waterways Guide, payment for the Wallonia area was collected at the locks in the region, but that all seems to have changed and we were never asked to pay there.

Passing on the narrow Dessel-Schoten canal

Our route through Flanders to Liege was via the Dessel-Turnhout canal, the Bocholt-Heerentals canal, the Zuidwillemsvaart canal with the last bit on the Albert canal.

We could have gone the whole way to Liege on the Albert canal but this canal is very commercial and not particularly enjoyable
for pleasure boats.

Local brickwork

The Dessel-Schoten canal took us through the Kempen region, known for brick-making, and the houses and buildings are noted for their colourful brickwork designs.

The canal is quite narrow, and apart from occasional brick factories, the scenery was rural and very peaceful.

We were now heading inland, and up, which meant a lot more locks and lifting bridges.

Colourful brick designs abounded

Time planning for this section had not been easy as I was not familiar with how things worked here, and had no idea how long it would take to get through the locks and bridges.

As it turned out we generally made better time than I’d expected.

Signpost at St-Job-in-t-Goor

After 6 locks and 5 lift bridges we over-nighted at the tiny town of St-Job-in-t-Goor.
(Cost here was Euro 13 per night, including water, electricity and wifi which worked)

The next morning, after contacting the lock keeper by phone, we slotted in behind another boat going the same way.

This proved most useful because not
only did they speak the language but their VHF seemed to be working properly so they could speak to the lock keepers.

Turnhout – Playing Card Museum

So we had a reasonably effortless passage
through the next 4 locks and 10 lift bridges, arriving at Turnhout about 13.30 hrs.

Cost here was 14 euro per night including water, electricity and wifi, although this only worked if you were right at the office.

Litho printing machine in museum

After the last 2 days of locks and bridges we took some time out here, strolled about the town and did some shopping for supplies.

Turnhout is known for printing of playing cards with a museum dedicated to this process.

Our luck was in and entry was free today, and they were operating the old litho printing machines.

Playing cards in print

I found this particularly interesting as my father had been in printing and used this process.

We were given 2 souvenir packs of cards.

Next – on to Liege

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