April 2009 saw us cruising again from Bruges and for a detailed account of our trip so far see here. Our plan was to cruise sedately down through France to Carcassonne where we hoped to find a winter mooring, arriving in September. We drove down to the area in the winter to check out the available winter moorings and the only one we could find that really met all our criteria was Carcassonne. We registered our interest but in May 2009 the Capitainerie informed us that there were no places available so we decided to once again abandon France in September and return to Belgium, this time to moor in Gent.
Our plans for 2009 are now changed as we will not be travelling down to the South of France. This page is being updated on May 8th 2009 where we are just south of Ath on the river Dendre. We are heading for Antoing where there is a bunker ship so we will replenish our fuel tanks then back along the Canal Nimy-Blaton-Péronnes To Mons and then on the Canal du Centre to Thieu for a boat rally to celebrate the re-opening of the historic boat lift. We will leave here in late May and travel down the Ronquières inclined plane, spend a night at the bottom, then turn back just for the experience. From the summit level of the Canal Charleroi-Brussels we drop down into Charleroi and follow the River Sambre downstream to its junction with the River Meuse at Namur.
We have travelled this river a few times before but plan to spend some time in Sedan before arriving in Nancy by which time we will have travelled some 650km. From here south will be new territory down the canal des Voges calling in at Épinal and Corre before joining the Petite Saône and the Saône proper. We will then turn East up the river Doubs and the canal du Rhône au Rhin until we join the river Rhine just after Mulhouse which we follow down to Strasbourg then back over the Canal de la Marne au Rhin where we will probably retrace our steps back to Gent. At least, that was our plan until we discovered that we would need a pilot for navigating the Rhine section. We knew that this was a requirement for pleasure boats over 15 metres long but also knew that bigger barges had made the trip, however, the current thinking is that the authorities will turn a blind eye up to 20 metres long but after that you risk trouble. Caution being the better part of valour, we decided we will turn around at Mulhouse and return north via the Burgundy canal, perhaps visiting Strasbourg next season by the Marne-Rhine canal and exploring the lower Moselle and Saar canal.
We have booked our winter mooring at Gent so that part of our plans should not change but watch this space in case they do!!