Today we experienced a mix of events and a mix of weather. We woke up in a small river village called Heusden, surrounded by windmills and a stone fortress that was built by Dutch Count Albrecht of Bavaria in 1392! We enjoyed a morning stroll around the town. Issy loved the small village and bakery, Max enjoyed the windmills and cannons, and Emilie bought her first plant for the boat – Bazil!
Photo 1. Shopping for plants
We set off with an excellent plan to go up the Dieze canal to bypass the Maas river. We were making good time and enjoying the voyage until we arrived at the S-Hertogenbosch lock. The lock was closed so we asked the lock keeper when he expects to re-open, expecting he would open after lunch. The lock keepers reply was he would open some time next year. Not wanting to spend the winter in S-Hertogengbosh, we turned our 45ft yacht around in a 50ft canal and headed north the way we had come back to the Maas.
Photo 2. Max under a windmill
For anybody adventurous enough to attempt the european canals after November, take note that many of the small canals are closed for maintenance!
Accepting our fate that we would have to spend 5 days motoring up stream for 230km, we hit the river. But then we noticed some large cargo barges taking the large new Maxima canal to join the Zuid-Willemsvaart canal. This new Maxima canal was not on our map, or on the map in the guide book, but there was a small mention to it in the pilot. We made some enquiries and found we could take this as a two day canal alternative to our river cruise.
Photo 3 tied up in lock abreast Leanba
In the first lock we met Captain Hank from the cargo ship Leanba. Hank invited us alongside and was a fantastic help in advising what canals were closed for maintenance and the best route to take. We spent the next three locks tied up alongside Leanba enjoying Hank’s company.
Small craft are not advised to travel the rivers at night, but light was fading fast and we needed to find a haven off the busy river. It is difficult to navigate the rivers at night because they run adjacent to the highway and industrial sites, so the helmsman must concentrate on the lighting.
This evening we have pulled into Veghel, a haven in the big city.