Gent - Antwerpen

At long last we left Gent on Monday the 26th of October 2015 at 8:08AM. A bit early as we had to take the tides of the river Schelde (Scheldt, Escaut) into consideration. This view was offered to us early in the morning, when still within Gent’s boundaries. Beautiful colours and morning-mist.

After having tackled two locks, the last one being the tidal lock at Merelbeke, we cruised the river Schelde downstream for some 3½ hours. On the way we encountered a sign warning us to stay away at least a 100 meters from the right bank. This picture shows why: the inside bend is very shallow, which is not visible when the incoming tide is at its highest.

Before reaching our destiny for that day, Dendermonde, we ascended the lock with the same name to have an overnight stop a few kilometers up the river Dender – a tributary to the river Schelde. Our ‘work’ for this day ended 2:00PM sharp. This place gave us the opportunity to have a quiet night, hardly any tide (if any) and no passing commercials creating waves.

Again because of the (outgoing) tide we started the next morning at 7:13AM and left Dendermonde Lock at 7:40AM to cruise the Schelde again. On the way we’ve seen loads of pretty autumn-sights. Here’s just one of them…

…and here’s another one. Both pictures, this one and the former one, show already a part of the river bottom. The outgoing tide, of course, causes the level of the river to drop. On an average the difference between high and low tide is some 5 meters (17 feet).

Under normal circumstances our groundspeed on a canal is about 3½ to 4 knots (6½ to 7 kilometers). Going downstream on a river increases the speed considerably, as shown by our GPS. Here it indicates a groundspeed of 7,8 knots (14 kilometers) per hour. The ‘record’ was 8 knots – an experience we never had before. So the outgoing tide travels at a speed of around 4 knots an hour.

Commercial ships do not cruise against the outgoing tide – we’ve seen not a single one fighting the combination current/outgoing tide. This private ship, a Dutch one named ‘Eestroom’ from Bartlehiem (a famous turning point during the ‘Elfstedentocht’ (Eleven Cities Tour, a skating event, see, was the only exception. He bravely fought Schelde’s waters and even found the time to wave at us.

Seeing a ship cruising away from you always makes for a nice picture, we think. And there are the other ingredients like the sun, blue sky, autumn and thin mist.

Around noon, when Antwerpen came in sight the tide was against us, reducing our groundspeed to less than 3 knots. Our destination is next to the red building, the sixth or seventh tall building when starting to count from the left. We have to pass that building though, because the lock (Royerssluis) leading to our destination is situated over a kilometer further up the wide river. Eventually we moored at 2:16PM, being the end of the eventful cruising-season 2015.

Here’s a map giving an idea about where we are in Antwerpen. We are moored in the Willemdok (, only in Dutch) (see the blue square) where a little cross is visible. The Willemdok is named after Willem I, first king of The (United) Netherlands after the Napoleon-era ended. He donated the dock in 1815 to the city of Antwerpen. We are on walking distance of Antwerpen’s very attractive city-centre (see the red rectangle).

An overview of the upper part as visible on the picture before this one. It’s the entrance to the Willemdok –and the Bonapartedok- as seen from the tall MAS-building between the two docks. More about the MAS-building at a later occasion.

The Willemdok itself now, as seen from the aforementioned MAS-building. Our ship is hardly visible here, the picture however gives a good idea about our present place of residence.

In the background of the last picture a green(ish) ship is visible just left from the centre. We are his neighbour and visible behind him at an angle of 90 degrees with the front of our ship towards the camera.

Even more clear now, although our camera does not store enough pixels to show our ship’s name after zooming in. But we’ve made our point now, haven’t we?

Here we are as seen from the quay. In the background the bridge leading towards the Bonapartedok is visible, as is the MAS-building. The viewpoint on top of the MAS building, by the way, can be visited for free. That’s an exception nowadays.

Mooringspaces in the Willemdok are fairly safe, as is proven by this picture. There’s quite some water between the pontoon and the quay, keeping ill-meaning people at bay (one hopes). The tower of Antwerpen’s Onze-Lieve-Vrouwe cathedral is visible in the background, emphasizing that we are not that far from the city centre.

To end with something completely different. The Sunday (25th of October) before we left Gent our female half lost her balance and fell over on the pontoon next to our ship. Her right wrist hurt badly but she decided to fight the pain and leave Gent anyway. The Monday and Tuesday were like hell for her; the pain did not subside, on the contrary. So on Wednesday we visited Antwerpen’s Stuivenbergziekenhuis ( - sorry, only Dutch). After examination a broken wrist was established, she was immediately hospitalized and operated on the same day. This is wat it looks like as from last Wednesday for the coming weeks, swollen fingers included. Yes, the pain is still there. Bye for now.