“You’re at the wrong lock.”, instructed the Continentally accented voice of the lock-master/traffic controller; “At weekends, we only have the big lock in operation.” This: whilst my sight was filled with the vision of the biggest lock-gate I had ever beheld!!!
Lyn and I had pushed through frustration; high winds, recalcitrant Belgian lock engineering; stubbornly closed lifting, hinging, swinging, turning bridges of greatly varied design and construction; all totally deficient of bollard or mooring-ring: all manner of hindrances; taking twenty-eight cruising hours to traverse from Dunkerque to Zeebrugge, via Oostend and Brugges.
|We waited 2 hours for this (pedestrian) bridge to allow us through. During that time one gentleman cycled across!!!|
“Make your way back along the canal, turn to Port at the first opportunity, and come down to the gate of the ‘big’ lock. I will let you through there, into the outer harbour.”; intoned our unseen controller.
Casting off again, we proceed to back-track and turn as instructed to be confronted with a craft, similar in size and construction to the (Suez Canal blocking) Evergiven!
On looking around for a lock gate, none appeared to be within sight, so we kept proceeding about a kilometre, in a Westerly direction, along a quarter kilometre wide waterway. Being, finally, stopped by a black, steel construction: stretched between the quarter kilometre-wide walls of the dockland: we contacted our invisible, Belgian patron. “We are ready to enter the lock.” we announced. “ You are IN the lock.”came the response: “There is another craft mooring behind you, and then I will open the gate for you.”
For about five minutes, we had been traversing the length of a GIANT lock, and bearing down upon us, was the previous gargantuan vessel’s even bigger sibling!
A successful, flying visit to both our American and Dutch friends in Amsterdam was followed by a rail odyssey back to our car in St. Jean de Losne, via Paris and Dijon. After one, final, night of great social cheer with our new-found (but dearly appreciated), multi-national boating community, we departed, en-route Cherbourg and the ferry to Dublin.
That extra weight engendered further delays in delivery but finally … FINALLY … we are safely and comfortably ensconced in our mooring at Tara Marina.