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This year we plan to obtain our TRIWV certification. To do this we must have a hull survey report and a safety survey. We have therefore booked the slipway at Sluiskil just north of Gent, over the Dutch border, for the hull survey in company with several other British barges. The DBA have organised a rally in Namur at the end of May which will include a forum on the TRIWV regulations and we will attend. A Dutch surveyor will be in attendance who will do our safety survey and with the hull survey report should obtain the TRIWV certificate from the Dutch Authorities. The UK authorities are doing nothing as usual!
After leaving the shipyard, which should be no longer than four days, we will head up the River Schelde stopping at Oudenaarde and Tournai before leaving the river along the Canal Nimy-Blaton-Péronnes to its junction with Valenciennes Canal where we plan to meet up with Clive and Sheila on Cedar and do a bit of painting.
We have booked Harmonie into Mons marina for next winter. We plan a big trip this winter down to New Zealand for the Rugby World Cup and have tickets for the Pool game England against Scotland on 2nd October so we will leave Harmonie here sometime in mid September and Clive will sail her into Mons on 1st November to her winter moorings. We will retrieve our car from Gent and leave it here for our return after our summer cruise.
On the way to Namur we will probably spend some time at Ittre, one of our favourite Belgian places, and on the way we hope to navigate the four old ship lifts up the Canal du Centré then once again a return trip down the Ronquieres inclined plane. From Ittre we head to Charleroi and plan a cruise up the Sambre to Erquelinnes before heading down to Namur for the rally having completed about 400km by then.
After the rally it is back up the lovely River Meuse of which you can never tire and into la belle France, travelling down the Moselle to the city of Metz, skirting Luxemboug and over the border into Germany where it becomes the Mosel. We have put a visit to Trier on our itinerary but doubt a visit is possible by boat due to a lack of moorings but we hope to moor in Luxembourg and travel in by Train. We then turn off the Mosel up the Saar valley to Saarbrucken then back into France and down the Canal des Houilléres de la Sarre to its junction with the Canal de la Marne au Rhine which will take us to Strasbourg, a further 800km from Namur.
We return back along the same canal through the Vosges mountains which includes some spectacular country and the Saint-Louis-Arzviller inclined plane of 41% and a drop of 44.55 metres eventually arriving at the city of Nancy.
We then follow the same canal up and over the hills, through the long Mauvages tunnel and down through Bar-le-Duc to Vitry where we join the Marne Lateral Canal to Conde-sur-Marne. Here we hope to replenish our stocks of Champagne before returning to Belgium via the Ardennes Canal and the Meuse.
If we complete the trip as planned we will have covered a total of nearly 2000km from start to finish but we do have several options of cutting it shorter should we have any unplanned stops, then it's look out New Zealand, here we come!