The Rhine has 2 branches through the Netherlands: the Lek, the northern branch, which has 3 large sluice/lock complexes & consequently very little river flow; and the Waal, the southern branch, which has no locks and therefore a good strong stream. Obviously, one ascends the Lek & descends the Waal. If any of the Lek bridges are too low to get under, one just turns round, sadly, and goes back again. If a Waal bridge is too low, it’s a long, long way back against the free flow to get back to the Lek, which would then be known to be OK. From Dordrecht, NW 5, to the junction between Noord & Lek: about 5 nm. Fighting the tide all the way; got to the Lek & found that that was flooding and by then the sun was out. Carried the flood for several hours until it ran out, which seemed to be the upper tidal point, so no ebb. There is the same number of bridges on each river. I can’t tell you how many, (I might have to shoot you,) but I counted them all up and counted them all down. With the longer route and some contrary flow, I took the Lek in 3 stages: Cullemborg, Arnhem & Emmerich (Germany).
Cullemborg has a nice little yacht harbour, just above a pendulum ferry. I’ve heard of these before but not seen one: not many rivers are suitable: the Lek has a bonus supply. One enormous sluice/lock passed on the way.
Cullemborg to Arnhem, still all motoring: there’s too much barge traffic to try a sail. Two more sluice/lock complexes; and more sun, though not as hot as Antwerp, but it’s still non-stop drinking. Arnhem is a big city: calls itself a “World Port”, but the yacht harbour is way outside the centre so no shops & only 1 restaurant, (which is full).
Try for fuel in Arnhem. There’s a listed tank-station in a back-water. Try several times to get in but take the ground 4 times & give up. Arnhem to Emmerich. First, one passes the split-off of the Gelderse Ijssel river, just 2 km. That is free-flowing, so there is now a solid counter stream. Not too bad, but a taster. Next is the split-off of the Waal, about 7 nm: this is a much bigger river and also free flowing so there’s now about 2~3 knots of counter current. Crank the throttle wide open. Again it’s a fairly short ride past the Dutch/German border to Emmerich, 7 nm again. Emmerich has another bridge but I have no information about it so stop in the hidden marina just below the bridge. A narrow, shallow channel winds in through the forest, (locals tell me it’s called the Amazon,) & then it widens out into an open basin with 3 marinas. As I can only see one of them as I come out the forest, I take that one. 15 Minutes walk to a Lidl and another 15 mins to the town centre: all mod cons, including restaurants, so definitely better than Arnhem.
Back down river, but now it’s the other river. Start in light showers, enough to get wet, then it clears but cool. Then more light rain. In the Waal, I can set the engine barely above tickover and make 6 knots: hope I don’t have to go back. There’s more barge traffic hereand for some reason they always come in bunches, with blue boards hung out (means: pass starboard to starboard) & I’m trapped against the bank as they fight to overtake each other. Nijmegen particularly bad. If the blue board indicates that they have dificulty getting round the bends, why don’t they do it in single file. If they have sufficient maoevrability to overtake, why do they need to go blue-on-blue? And why always on my side of the river?
Bridges so far have ample clearance. Arrive at Tiel which has a well marked marina and lots of restaurants. Haven’t found a supermarket yet and I may have to carry a can to the garage for diesel.
Final Rhine leg fom Tiel back to Dordrecht. The weather is “Af-en-toe regen”. I knew from previous experience that I could get under the last 2 bridges but the 3rd last was barely 12 m: the lowest I’ve had to use.Arrive just in fair time for the last bridge into the same marina I left 5 days before. This time, my computer finds the wifi automatically, but the connection is so poor that I can’t do anything. Eat in solitary splendour in the same Greek restaurant as previously.
Featured photo is:
My chart of Emmerich