The return journey; pesky Elbe, calm canals, a few more countries
Ruda and her crew felt more than a little sad to be leaving Prague after nearly five months. Even though the low level of the Elbe meant that Ruda bumped along the bottom on a number of occasions the currents were not very much lower than the high waters of the uphill navigation and so her erstwhile home was soon left far behind.
The fierce currents of the Elbe and the pesky ferries gave way to the rapid, efficient, straight and tedious waters of the Mittelland Kanal before returning to the more lively rivers of the Netherlands (Ruda’s 14th country). From bikes and tulips to Belgium and Brussels (Ruda’s 15th country and 10th capital city). The crew thoroughly enjoy the best chips in the world and Ruda was cheered by some truly astounding canal engineering in the form of the 1.5km long Ronquiere inclined plane which lifted her 70m up and the highest ship lift in the world at Strepy which lowered her 73m back down again. And so into France and the fast, efficient “motorway” of the Escaut-Dunkerque canal. Foggy morning and limited daylight made for relatively short days of navigation but the miles fell away and soon Ruda’s keel was back in properly salty water for the first time since 2005!
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