Jachthaven Willemdok


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Willemdok, the second of Antwerp’s extensive interior docks to be built, was completed in 1812 on the order of Napoleon. Today the basin is home to Jachthaven Willemdok, a fabulous marina ringed with restaurants and cafes that is within walking distance of the city’s train station and its historic core. We initially had planned to spend a week or ten days there, but enjoyed it so much we ended up staying for seventeen nights. And we likely would have stayed longer had COVID-19 concerns not changed our travel plans.

Below are trip highlights from February 26th through March 13th in Antwerp, BE. Click any image for a larger view, or click the position to view the location on a map. And a live map of our current route and most recent log entries always is available at mvdirona.com/maps.

2/26/2020
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Antwerp Arrival
On our final day of travel from Amsterdam to Antwerp, we passed through two locks and one bridge on a 30-mile, 7.5-hour run through the river Scheldt. Antwerp is the second largest commercial port in Europe after Rotterdam and commercial traffic was heavy in the river.

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2/27/2020
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London Bridge
Heading through London Bridge to Jachthaven Willemdok on the first opening of the day. The bridge opens on-demand roughly every hour between 6am and midnight, with larger gaps around rush hour.
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Jachthaven Willemdok
Anne-Francoise And Willem Timmermans sent us this picture taken from their top-floor apartment of Dirona in our new temporary home at Jachthaven Willemdok. The marina is a popular winter layover and is quite full this time of year.
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Snow
Our first snowfall of the year—a few brief flurries at Jachthaven Willemdok in Antwerp.
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Timmermans
Miguel, Olivier, Anne-Francoise and Willem Timmermans (from left to right) stopped by for a visit and a tour of Dirona. Miguel is a long-time follower of our YouTube channel and they all are interested in Nordhavn. We very much enjoyed meeting the Timmermans, and their warm welcome to Belgium.
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Roest
A delicious meal at Roest in Antwerp across the road from Jachthaven Willemdok. We loved the glass floor that revealed Antwerp’s old brick-covered drainage system.
2/28/2020
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Historic Antwerp
Antwerp was already a major trading center by the 14th century, with sufficient resources to begin construction of the spectacular Cathedral of Our Lady. By the 16th century, Antwerp was the leading commercial center in Europe and home to one of continent’s most respected publishing houses, operated by Christophe Plantin. This period also saw the start of Antwerp’s diamond industry that today trades 80% of the world’s uncut diamonds. Ornate guild halls from that time still flank the city’s main square, Grote Markt, rivalling Brussell’s more famous Grand Place.

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2/29/2020
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Otomat Pizza
Otomat Pizza suits us perfectly. :)
3/1/2020
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Along the Scheldt
In the late 1800s and early 1900s, two million Europeans departed Antwerp along the river Scheldt aboard Red Star Line ships bound for North America. Today, the shipping company’s riverside warehouse is now home to an excellent museum detailing the history of that emigration. During that time, the only connection between the east and west banks of the Scheldt at Antwerp was by water. The first connection was made in the 1930s with the construction of the Sint-Annatunnel, a pedestrian and bicycle tunnel accessed through a unique wooden escalator that still operates today.

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3/3/2020
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Rewiring
Replacing the KVH Link set-top box with the new Android-based version. KVH Link has improved greatly with the V4.0 offering, and the new set-top box is rock solid and easy to install. While working in the entertainment system, we also removed the three wall warts that supply 5V to each of the set top box, the Harmony Hub remote control system, and the Fire TV Stick. The inefficient wall wart transformers were replaced with direct feeds from the 24V-to-5V converter that also feeds the Aft and Laz Raspberry Pis. We also removed the inefficient wall wart that powers the Netgear POE switch and replaced it with a 24V-to-48V converter. And, finally we replaced the wall wart that fed 12V to the entertainment system cooling fans and replaced it with a 24V-to-12V converter. With that done, it looks cleaner, wastes less power, and doesn’t require as much cooling.
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Napo’s
A delicious meal from the grill at Napo’s in Antwerp over a bottle of Italian Primitivo (Zinfandel).
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Whisperer
Figures from the Whisperer sculpture scaling a dockside building.
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Fifth Whisperer
Our regular listening to the fifth statue of the Whisperer on our way back to Dirona from dinner, with the fabulous MAS museum lit up in the background.
3/4/2020
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Brussels
Brussels famous Grand Place, named a UNESCO World Heritage site in 1998, is one of the most magnificent city squares in Europe. A 15th-century spired town hall rises on one side, while ornate 17th-century guild halls and other centuries-old buildings form the other three sides. The square is all but invisible until you walk through one of the entry lanes, making the scene even more striking. The capitol of Belgium also is known for its many other beautiful historic buildings and churches, wide array of pubs and restaurants, and for being the de facto capitol of the European Union.

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3/5/2020
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Autostart Light
The blue light on the pilot house dash (indicating generator autostart is enabled) and the orange warning light in the the engine room were both too dim. We found that new lights were much brighter and nothing else was wrong, so we just changed both lights.
3/6/2020
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MAS
Today we visited the MAS museum that focuses on Antwerp, its history and its connection to the world. Most of the displays were less Antwerp-focused than we were expecting, but we enjoyed the visit. This photo was taken at the World Port display that describes the evolution of the city’s port that was once the largest in the world and currently is the second largest in Europe after Rotterdam.
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Camera Coffin
The Celebration display at Antwerp’s MAS museum focuses on life’s rights of passage. This camera model is actually a full-sized coffin, an example of a “fantasy coffin” created in the African country of Ghana.
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Paint ‘n Run
The street art mural Paint ‘n Run by Rise One on the back of an old warehouse overlooking the Kattendijkdok.
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Port Authority
The striking Antwerp Port Authority building, designed by Iraqi-British architect Zaha Hadid, is built over and into an old fire station.
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Atrium
The light-filled atrium inside the Antwerp Port Authority building.
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Port of Antwerp
An aerial photograph on the floor of the Antwerp Port Authority atrium showing the extent of the port’s interior locks. This view looking south shows the river Scheldt starting at center right and winding to the upper left with the lock-enclosed docks in either side. The two narrow parallel lines slightly right and below center are the Berendrecht and Zandvliet locks, the second and third largest locks in the world. Willemdok, where Dirona is moored, is at the southern tip of the port at far upper left where the Scheldt bends away to the right.
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Antwerpe Brouw Compagnie
Enjoying a pint at the Antwerpe Brouw Compagnie taproom just south of the Port Authority building.
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Lazy Jack
A fun dinner at quirky Lazy Jack, built into an old waterside warehouse along the Kattendijkdok.
3/7/2020
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Ghent
Ghent is one of Belgium’s oldest cities, with beautiful medieval and classical architecture, winding canals lined with cafes and bars, wonderful street art, and some of the best museums in the country. The city also is a university town and has the vibrant feel a youthful population brings, that we’re told feels less touristy than the more well-known Brugge.

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3/8/2020
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Heat Sink
Today we re-seated the heat sink on our navigation computer with more heat sink adhesive to attach it more firmly. Strictly speaking, it cools fine without the large heat sink. But the sink prevents the fan from having to work hard, making it quieter and allowing it to consume a bit less power.

We’re still kind amazed at the small size of the ThinkStation P320 Tiny. The computer has run flawlessly since we installed it twenty months ago.

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Creatorele Remote
One of the items we brought back on our most recent trip to Seattle was a Creatorele HS-10 SN-411C386, a 10-channel hoist crane radio wireless remote to investigate as a possible replacement for the Yacht Controller wireless remote that we use to control the thrusters and engine remotely.

We use the Yacht Controller as a virtual wing helm station. Our boat doesn’t have the space for a hard-wired wing helm station, so we use the remote control to allow us to run the boat from outside during the last stages of docking. The Yacht Commander is not very good value at $7,000 but it’s a great addition to the boat. Recently, it’s been struggling to connect to it’s base station in some conditions. This only happens when there are other industrial remote controls in the area. For example, near the marina in Antwerp, it constantly cut in and out. And, during our crossing of the Gota Canal it frequently cut out. We’re pretty sure the lock masters’ remote controls used the same channel as the Yacht Controller. This shouldn’t cause a problem, but the Yacht Controller doesn’t appear to be well enough protected against interference from other radios.

The net result is that the Yacht Controller usually works well, but can get flaky where radios are on the same frequency. This mostly isn’t a problem, but on the canal it was alarming: it would usually function properly, but several times as we worked into a lock and approached the lock master with their remote controls, it would cut out. Cutting out in tight quarters with a 55-ton boat is not what you want.

We’ve looked at competing products, but they all cost more than $6,000 and we hate to change this one since it usually works. What we decided to do is to purchase a commodity crane remote for $115 and install it in parallel with the Yacht Commander where either (or even both) can be used at the flick of a switch. We can use the crane controller when the Yacht Controller is not operating correctly due to radio interference.

3/9/2020
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We Have Control
The remote works! The new Creatorele 10-channel crane remote control was just installed as a second remote control for the boat. It can take control, run the boat forward, put it in reverse, and run the bow and stern thrusters in either direction. The new remote is installed in parallel with the existing remote, allowing either to work fine.

We haven’t used it enough to know what we think about it but in early testing some aspects of it are amazing. The Yacht Commander has reception problems if there is material between the remote and the base station. When operating from the back of the boat, James keeps the Yacht Commander behind him since, in front, his body sometimes blocks reception when at the far corner of the boat. The new remote works reliably five boats down the dock. In many ways it seems better, but it’ll take some use to see which we prefer. The radio reception and remote operation reliability tests much better.

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Otomat
Another enjoyable evening at Otomat Pizza in Antwerp.
3/11/2020
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Disinfecting
People in general don’t seem particularly concerned about COVID-19, but we’re starting to see some indicators. Here at Albert Heijn, an employee is disinfecting the self-service checkouts after each use.
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Groceries
Jennifer returning from the nearby Albert Heijn grocery store with a cartful of provisions. We sure love that folding cart—it gets a ton of use.
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Zagreb
A delicious meal at Croatian restaurant Zagreb in Antwerp. Here the ebullient proprietor is showing us the whole fresh fish available.
3/12/2020
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Berendrecht Lock
The Berendrecht and Kieldrecht locks in the Port of Antwerp are the two biggest locks in the world. Both are 1,600 ft (1/2 km) long and 223 ft (68m) wide, and can accommodate post-Panamax ships. When completed in 1988, the 44-ft-deep (13.5 m) Berendrecht was the largest in the world until edged out by the 58-ft-deep (17.8m) Kieldrecht in 2016. The scale is incredible. To put this in perspective, these locks have six times the area of the huge lock through the Bonneville Dam along the Columbia River that measures 676 ft (206m) long by 85ft (26 m) wide.

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Andre and Oxana
Andre and Oxana de Weldige-Cremer, owners of Norhavn 6304 Casarca (ex True North), alternate between their home in Belgium and their boat, currently moored in the Canary Islands. They both are keenly interested in boating and Nordhavns—as part of Nordhavn Atlantic Passage 2017, they crossed the Atlantic to Europe the same year we did on their previous Nordhavn, the N55 Angela, and before that owned a Nordhavn 47. We really enjoyed spending time with them both.
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L’Officina
At L’Officina L’Officina da Franco & Giacomo in Antwerp for what would turn out to be our last restaurant meal for the foreseeable future. For a last meal, it was a good one—the food, wine and service were excellent. Here our server is preparing a pasta dish made by melting the inside of a cheese wheel and stirring pasta inside. It was fabulous.
Show locations on map Click the travel log icon on the left to see these locations on a map, with the complete log of our cruise.

On the map page, clicking on a camera or text icon will display a picture and/or log entry for that location, and clicking on the smaller icons along the route will display latitude, longitude and other navigation data for that location. And a live map of our current route and most recent log entries always is available at mvdirona.com/maps.

 
 


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