Netherlands To Turkey Via European Canals & Rivers
Published 8 years ago, updated 5 years ago
The report on my trip from Alkmaar (North of Amsterdam) to Finike (South coast Turkey) via the Meuse, Mosel, Canal de l’Est, Saone, Rhone and the Mediterranean.
Our boat a Pearson 36’05” ketch, drawing 1.45 m. Diesel inboard. John Slot, [email protected]
The inland trip: I started in Alkmaar and did the trip in three legs. The first Alkmaar – Maastricht with one crew; 2nd Maastricht – Lyon single handed and Lyon – Port St. Louis with one deckhand.
Leg One Alkmaar – Maastricht: 251 km, 20 sluices.
Alkmaar – Nieuwegein via the Amsterdam Rijn Canal. 11.5 hours (It is recommended to do the Amsterdam Rijn Canal on a Sunday in view of heavy commercial traffic. I didn’t because of parts to be picked up on Monday and can confirm this Canal is very uncomfortable during the week)
Nieuwegein – Aarle Rixtel via ‘s Hertogenbosch (Maas/Dommel/Zuid Willemsvaart) 13.5 hours. If you use “Fendasox” take them off your fenders! The locks in the ZWvaart which have not been modernized yet have muddy walls. The mud gets into the material of the sox and works as grinding paste on your topside)
Aarle Rixtel – Maastricht ZW Vaart and Maas) 11.5 hours
Leg Two Maastricht – Lyon 812 km 183 sluices
Maas/Mosel/Canal de LÉst, 440 km 159 sluices
The locks in Belgium are modern and fast, the Meuse is beautiful. The marina of Namur is the (last) place for fuel. “Red” untaxed diesel. Fill up at half the price of the French fuel (Do not take any in containers).
Be prepared for the small locks in France and the first tunnel of 560 metres which isn’t illuminated! Most of the locks are automatic but still only available between 07.00 and 20.00 sometimes less. When it was hot and the VNF “short of staff ” I was stopped at 15.30! I can assure everybody the days of about 12 hours, certainly when singlehanded, are exhausting when going up! Climbing all the ladders to moor and/or start the cycle over twenty times a day. The service of VNF though is super in case of mechanical problems with the locks.
Do not enter an automatic lock when the red and green lights are on, wait for green only!! The cycle stops automatically and the VNF attendant arrives in a dead slow speed, first tells you off! And then restarts the cycle (Very embarrassing for me as a retired deep-sea Ship’s Master).
Namur – Vieux Wallerand 10 hours; Vieux Wallerand – Nouvion sur Meuse 12 hours; Nouvion sur M – Dun sur M 11 hrs; Dun sur M – La Croix sur M 12 hrs; La Croix sur M – Toul 10 hrs; Toul – Richard Minel 5 hrs (shopping and at 15.40 VNF staff resigned for the day); Richard Minel – Thaon 11 hrs; Thaon – La Haye 10 hrs (Wait for service next day 09.00 at lock nr. 19). La Haye – Fontenoy Le Chateau 8 hrs (Fuel from hose available, water on quay etc). Fontenoy Le Chateau – Saone 4 hrs.
The end of small locks and shallow water. Beware, a British and a German yacht with a draft of 1.80 metres got stuck going South and return North was near to impossible also).
Saone 372 km 24 locks
Fontenoy Le Chateau – Scey sur Saone 10 hrs; Scey sur Saone – Auxonne 12 hrs; Auxonne – Tournous 11.5 hrs; Tounous – Lyon 12 hrs. Moor alongside in Lyon close to PK 3 on the Saone. In reality, there is no suitable place to moor on the Rhone.
Third Leg, The Rhone, 310 km, 13 sluices
Lyon – Valence 12 hrs; Valence – Avignon 13 hrs; Avignon – Port St. Louis 9 hrs. (2 hrs waiting time for the last lock because of tide).
The locks on the river Rhone are large with a huge rise (the highest 23.30 metres) however comfortable with floating bollards to moor onto.
Consider the 17 days from Maastricht is the minimum transit time to Port St. Louis. One is restricted by the French operating times of the sluices. Speeds of over 5.5 knots will not help you. There are many places worthwhile stopping.
The masts were stepped in Pt. St. Louis, shopping done, there is an Inter Marche almost next to the Marina. After waiting for the Mistral to die we sailed, deviating the same evening for Toulon weather-bound for three days because of strong winds. After that smooth sailing with a lot of motoring.
Port St. Louis – Toulon 09.00 o’clock – 23.00 (including the deviation) 78 nm.
Toulon – Bonifacio 37 hrs (for fuel) 170 nm
Bonifacio – Messina 76 hrs (Fuel, oil-change, beer on a terrace, good food ashore etc) 365 nm
Messina – Finike 6 days 9 hrs 772 nm
Setur Marina Finike, now our permanent mooring. A well-equipped marina charging attractive rates. The place itself, a small, typical Turkish village.
Great comments and information. I am planing to experience this cruise in the near future and I will appreciate very much your additional comments, does and not-to-does, precautions, expenses and warnings.