June 4 – Wednesday. We had to get out of the Antwerp harbour before we could start riding again so the barge cast off early. We departed at 0630 and cruised for about an hour and a half through this absolutely immense harbour before docking again. Antwerp is the second largest port in Europe, after Rotterdam, and it is just a maze of canals, inlets, jetties, tank farms, warehouses, ships of all sizes and, of course, windmills. Not the traditional quaint Dutch type but the huge wind-turbine type. Although the weather was cool and drizzly, most of us sat on deck with our morning coffee and watched the bustle of activity around us. Eventually Pim, our cook, came on deck and announced that we had crossed the border and we were now in Holland.
We started our ride at a moorage on a canal just south of the Oosterschelde, the large eastern outlet of the Schelde River into the North Sea. Rain was threatening the whole time and finally started falling once we set off. Thankfully, this was to be our shortest ride of the week. We stopped for coffee, after only 14 km, at a Stayokay Hostel outside Bergen op Zoom. Trying to dry out the raingear was pretty futile but the hot coffee was welcome. It had warmed up a bit so most people were as wet under their (supposedly breathable) raingear as if they hadn’t worn any. If nothing else, the jackets and pants acted as wetsuits so no one got chilled. We took off again after a half hour break and rode a short distance to the Bergen op Zoom Canadian War Cemetery where almost 1000 WW2 Canadian soldiers are buried, killed retaking that area from the Germans. Another 90 minutes of riding in the rain and we were at out barge pick-up point, in the Scheldt-Rhine Canal just beside Tholen. We ate our lunch back on the barge and cruised canals and locks for the next 3 hours until arriving in Dordrecht. Hans backed the barge under a cute little drawbridge into a tiny moorage, just big enough to fit us, it seemed, and we settled in for the evening.
Rode 32 kms.