Day Four – Easter Monday, and Day Five

April 5th, 6th

Left dock at 11:30, Shower, breakfast and another several gallons of diesel.. Thank you Walter! Kristine at the helm we started the official Ringvaard of Ghent. Only ½ around and we take the canal right heading to Oudenaarde. Our first big lock, I climbed up the ladder and went ot the office to get my “permit” to motor the Belgium canals. About 23 Euros. Good for 3 months ! Lock keeper was great and held the lock open until I got back into the boat. Not a lot of traffic then (is a holiday day) About 6 hour with locks and bridges trip. Very cold! But quiet, and a bit boring on the canals. The levies are so high you miss the towns and villages you pass. Only the bikers on the tow paths.

Reached Oudenaarde, Belgium around 4:30 and decide to tie up after the local bridge. Only boat there.

Walked to city center and there was a full-fledged carnival there. We walked the circle and found a wonderful wine bar. We were a bit “under-dressed” but that wouldn’t stop us. Great Sicilian wine for 5 euros.Walked back to the boat to regroup and ate salad for dinner. Plan, to leave early anticipating another 6 hour motor to Conde, just inside the French border.

Day Five – Tuesday, April 5, 2010

Today was a tough day. Each lock has brought us closer to perfecting our skills as two-handed boaters, but we find each one a challenge. Some locks take their time to fill, and others, it feels like a tidal wave crashing into the boat. We have also found the locks to get increasingly slimey as we go South. Our plan was to stop at Valenciennes, past Conde, but did not realize we actually went past it. No real town along the canal and more important, no bollards to tie up to. It was getting late and we finally found a mooring past the last lock of the day near Trith, France. Still cold and dreary, but the evening proved better. We found we had not eaten all day and so we almost inhaled our pasta dinner and salad. With the locks closed after 6pm, we had a quiet night at the lock bollards.

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