Spring Cruise 2012
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In the spring of 2012 we took part in a rally cruise up the Haut Sambre from Belgium into France to help support the campaign to have the canal repaired at the Vadencourt aqueduct. Up until 2006 the Haut Sambre could be used to go right through to Chauny where it joins the Oise and central canal network. It was an alternative, shorter and more scenic route to Paris from Belgium. In 2006 the canal was blocked at Vadencourt due to the weakened aqueduct (where the canal goes over the river) which is in danger of collapse. There were about 23 boats taking part in the demonstration. A schedule of movements and lock timings was made up by a local boater, Walter, who also used his local information to find us all moorings each evening.

Wait in Jeumont

The sun shone for 11 boats to set off from Erquelinnes on 16th April (the others arrived later). We only travelled 2km before having to moor up due to a delay at the first lock in France. We tied up in Jeumont and there were soon 3 VNF (Voies Navigables De France) workers getting the lock going and we were off into France. The smallest boats went first so that the larger boats wouldn't hold them back on the twisting canalised river.

On the dolphins at Quartes

Waterdog and Anthonia made Quartes the first day, where we moored to perfectly spaced dolphins near the town of Pont-Sur-Sambre. Robert Louis Stevenson described a rather wet stomp towards the town from here in 1876 (the year Waterdog was built back in the UK) when he was canoeing the length of the Sambre and Oise to Compiegne in his book 'An Inland Voyage'.

Walking the plank
On day 3 we reached Ors and moored to dolphins again - they seem to have them before and after each lock - they were good to moor to, but not great for getting on and off the boat. Here Lawrence demonstrates his skill in the art of balancing along a beam and throwing a hairy dog on a boat.
   
Walking the plank

Safely aboard

Tilly doesn't Look too impressed with the process but she arrived safely onboard and Lawrence didn't fall in either.

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