Waulsort (and a few other things)

On Saturday the 28th of May we cruised from Dinant to Waulsort. The plan was to move on on Wednesday the 1st of June, leave Belgium behind and cruise into France. It started raining, well rather pouring like h**l the next day and the river Meuse (the French call it Canal de la Meuse) was closed to all navigation as from the 2nd of June… That situation did not change until this day. The message as shown by the scan is admittedly sent on the 10th, but it was an update from an earlier one that started at PK (point kilomètre) 7.1 which makes hardly any difference. So the river is still closed for over 90 kilometers (56 miles) in France – and we waited, and waited and still… wait. We bought a license for 30 days, starting the 1st of June, on Sunday the 29th of May. That cost us close to € 200,00, or over € 6,50 a day. Up till now we ‘used’ some € 80,00 without moving a single yard!

Coincidentally, on the 12th of June 2012, 4 years ago today when we still cruised the river Thames in good old England, we put a (summer-)picture of Goring Lock on Facebook, accompanied by this text: “Likely outlook (by The Environment Agency): We have had significant rainfall over the last 36 hours. The river flows are still increasing. We are expecting further rain at the end of the week which may lead to further increased river flows.” Our comment: “At present we are moored just downstream of Goring Lock - see picture. The lock shows red boards. We are stuck again!!” — in Goring, Reading, United Kingdom (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Goring-on-Thames). We remember having been forced that 2012-season to remain at Wargrave, River Thames (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wargrave), unable to move for 3 weeks, starting at the end of April. So nothing has changed during the last 4 years. Expectations for the future: it will be worse, due to global warming.

The amount of water that came down over the weir close to where we are moored is clearly demonstrated by this picture. Self-evidently the river is very fast flowing and even if one would cruise (it is possible) there’s not a lot of fun to it and, as explained by the 1st picture, even impossible after entering France.

A humble tributary

The (main) river is fed by numerous tiny, medium, and ‘real’ tributaries. Here’s a video of a tiny one, just next to where we are moored. When we arrived there was nothing in it. That rapidly changed after the heavy rainfall.

Apart from the weather in Western Europe not a lot happened for the boating community – of course. So here’s a (first) picture of the idyllic surroundings we are moored.

An unfazed commercial

Another short video, this time about an 80-meters (260 feet) freight ship going upstream in the direction of France. It is possible to reach the commercial port of Givet, just over the border at PK 2.2. For us it does not make any sense to move, as we will be stopped at PK 8.36 without any facilities.

On our side of the river, the right bank, no facilities are to be found. The little village of Waulsort is located on the opposite bank and offers no facilities as well. But… there’s a bus stop over there, offering the opportunity to travel either to Hastière (B) / Givet (F) to the south or Dinant (B) to the north. A charming little manually operated ferry transfers men and their goods up-and-down on request.

This picture clearly shows the influence the current has on the little ferry. The most demanding part for the ferryman is at the centre of the river, when his ferry is in a right-angle position with the current. After beginning and towards the end of the crossing the half-moon shape of the cable, combined with the current, makes the ferry go forward almost without any effort.

Waulsort's manually operated ferry

Another video, this time of a crossing with the ferry. The ferryman, a friendly, strong Viking-type, uses a dedicated piece of wood sliding over the cable to make the ferry going forward. The name of the dedicated piece of wood in French is ‘sabot’, which means ‘klomp’ (= clog, wooden shoe) in Dutch.

  • An empty canal...

    Last week we’ve showed you several pictures about the problems in the centre of France, caused by the floods. Here’s a picture from the south-west – Meilhan-Sur-Garonne, Aquitaine, France, to be precise. The Canal latéral à la Garonne is here situated next to the river Garonne (we suppose) and its dike has given way. This is what an empty canal looks like… (© Charlie Maas)

  • ...and beached boats

    …and this is what an empty canal does to moored boats. (© Charlie Maas)

Therefore, it is not all that bad where we are, especially when the sun is shining! We are invisible here, as there are two cruisers -the second and third boat from the left- obscuring our little ship. The overall sight is too beautiful not to use it, isn’t it?

  • Derelict...

    Fortunately, we have all facilities on board. This is the (former?) ‘pissoir’, nowadays in a miserable state…

  • ...facilities

    …as are the ladies (& gents?). The adjacent (former) restaurant, with a ‘luxury apartment’ on top of it (a tarpaulin partly covers the roof), is for sale. There seems to be no interest whatsoever.

This fragment is already partly visible with the picture of the ‘pissoir’. When untouched, nature’s ways are sometimes just lovely.

The inside of that little derelict ‘bathroom’-building is similarly interesting. The foot of the rocky hill serves partly as a wall. That’s noticeable to a Dutch native, used to a flat and muddy country!

Last week we visited Givet, France, by bus. Beforehand we were wondering about the level of security at the border, given the situation in France. Well, no customs-officer, or police-(wo)man, or soldier, or weapon, ever came in sight. To and fro the bus just crossed the border, uninterrupted.

The European Football-Championship is a hot item in France, especially since it is organized there end now. We obtained a booklet in Givet – even multi-lingual, which is close to a miracle in France! The coming two weeks it will be football, football and more football. Without the Dutch though, which is still beyond comprehension. Well, we fancy the Belgians and the English now… Bye, bye.