We set off on Saturday 14th May and had decided to have an easy 1st day and go as far as Thuin (3 hours and 4 locks). By the second lock we were being waved down by a worried lock keeper who was saying that Lobbes lock was closed for a week for more work. Fortunately two of our fellow boaters, Walter and Marcel, had some inclination that there was a problem and had driven down there to see what was going on. They phoned us to say they had negotiated that we could pass through the Lobbes lock on Monday morning and then it would be shut again behind us. This meant that instead of stopping or turning around as each lock keeper said we should, we could keep going until we were met by Walter and Marcel in Lobbes and then tie up there until Monday.
At two of the locks en route to Lobbes we had to push through muddy shallows that had built up in the approaches over winter and at Fontaine Valmont we had to dodge around a red channel marker buoy that marked a shallow spit. Unfortunately the buoy should be green so we first headed the wrong side of it and were corrected by the lock keeper. There isn’t enough boat traffic on the Sambre to keep these shallow areas from building up, but fortunately the mud is soft and we could push through it.
We came out of the lock and had to go between the red buoy and the sloping wall; there wasn’t much room but Lorna guided Waterdog through just fine. We touched bottom again at the shallowest point.
We stayed two nights in Lobbes and although it wasn’t very far from Erquelinnes we were happy to be somewhere new, where we could finish some of the jobs that were still outstanding for the cruise to come while having a new view. Lorna varnished the base of the new seating (to seal the wood from dirt) and I washed the whole outside to get rid of a winter’s worth of dust and cobwebs. Waterdog looked much better for that. I also prepared a man overboard or swimming ladder by fitting a permanent strop to our aluminium ladder. Like this it can be deployed at any of Waterdog’s 14 bollards to suit the situation.