Saturday, August 31, 2013

The Lock from Hell

We made an early morning start from our previous night's mooring to arrive for the start of lock service at 0900. All of the locks in this system are fitted with a transponder operated by a remote control. The remote was issued to us when we entered France.

The lock had been filled all night and we had to wait and stand back for the turbulence of water that it is expelling. Insidethe chamber the ladder that I had to climb had been submerged and primed for me with wetness and slime.

The water level in this lock was 3.4 metres deep plus three additional metres of flood wall above. I carefully climbed the ladder with rope in hand, the other end of which was tied to Zonder Zorg. The list of the world's ten most dangerous hikes crossed my mind.

I was amazed that this lock was unmanned. The empty control house sat in an awkward position, leaving no room for bollards. I had managed to secure one line and went searching for a boathook. I found a heavy pipe with a hook on it; it was too long and too heavy for me to handle.

Michael secured the second line to the stairs and gave me the signal to turn on the water.

I watched from above as the massive amount of water started to enter the space.

The turbulence was strong, but Michael managed to control its force.

Zonder Zorg's stern was dragged across and touched the other side of the lock.

It was a relief when the lock had filled, the doors had open and we were on our way.

We watched fisherman along the canals, some waving, some annoyed.

Remains of the old towpaths are still visible, but mostly in decay.

Some older trees, now hosting huge fungi, had also seen better times.

The scenery changed to a soft ripple effect.

We are staring to look for moorage for the night; we were tired.

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