My Travel Blog

Dinant, Belgium | A Brief Stop In The Home of the Saxophone

The following morning we waved goodbye to Chateau de Dave and were off to Dinant, Belgium. This beautiful little town was nestled in the Meuse River valley surrounded by rocky cliffs.  From the river you couldn’t miss the citadel that protects the city, and the unusual church spire that appears to be Russian Orthodox but isn’t.  We tied up two blocks from the middle of town, grabbed our laptops, I-pads and I phones and went looking for a WiFi hotspot.

“Dinant, Belgium from the River Meuse.”

“Hotspot whores in Dinant.”

“View from the citadel.”

Dinant’s hometown hero is Mr. Sax the guy that invented the saxophone. When we arrived they were paying tribute to him by displaying colorful oversized saxophones on the towns main bridge. The following morning we visited the Citadel.  The original fort was built in the 16th century, but upgraded continually through the First World War.  They had a gondola to whisk you to the top of the 100-meter cliff, or you could climb 408 steps.  It cost Euro 7.50 no matter the mode of transportation.  We took the stairs.

“Saxophones on the main bridge.”

“Lisa had been drinking a lot of wine, and couldn’t stand up straight.”

The port captain told us they were closing the river Saturday and Sunday for a Jet Ski competition, so we decided to leave the next day, but only after Lisa, Steve, and I went for a 4.5-mile hike.

“Going for a hike.”

We headed up stream to the first lock where we encountered a low bridge.  Our pilothouse is 4.1 meters above the water, and 3.3 meters when we take it down.  The bridge was 3.7 meters.  Rather than taking the pilothouse apart the lock keeper lowered the water level in the canal for us. The water was flowing so fast that I had to give Rabelo full throttle to get out of the lock. Immediately after the lock was a 240-meter (790 ft.) tunnel.  Fortunately the water level was low enough that we were able to pass without any problems.

“Damn that tunnel looks small. Note the exposed stone work on the right side to see how far the water level was lowered.”

“And it’s dark in there too.”

The scenery along this little canal was incredible, the weather perfect.  Steve made salad and barbequed hamburgers for lunch.   Life could not have been better.  But then there was Ecluse (lock) 53.  It was broken.  Wilco called the VNF, the Government agency that maintains the canals.  They would not come out until the following morning, so we tied up in front of the lock and blocked the canal.  An irate German pounding on the hull woke us the next morning.  I wanted to tell him the lock was broken, but the word “kaput” just didn’t come to mind.  As usual Wilco fixed everything, and explained the problem.  The VNF showed up as promised, and off we went waving goodbye to our new German friends.

“It doesn’t get any better.”

“Ecluse 53 with our German friends tied to us.”


-Tom Miller
Author of “The Wave” – 
a Chuck Palmer Adventure novel



About the Author:

Tom Miller graduated from the University of Southern California with a Bachelor of Science in Geology. He is a consummate adventurer with over 1,000 dives as a recreational scuba diver, and an avid sailor who has traveled 65,000 miles throughout the Pacific including the Hawaiian Islands. Miller has also cruised the canals of Europe on his canal barge and given numerous lectures on cruising the canals of Europe, as well as sailing in the South Pacific. Piloting is also an interest of Miller's, and He has completed over 1,000 hours flying everything from small Cessnas to Lear jets.