Accueil > Programme by locality

Hear ye, riparian citizens!
You are entering the wings of the vast open-air stage of Blue Days, marked by a festive spirit and good cheer, in the pure tradition of the riverside taverns of yore. The project's partners, the communes, associations, musicians, actors and many others are working hard to finalise a full programme of attractions and events along the canal, between the Deûle and the Scheldt. Come back, cast your line over this space to see the programme taking shape. Fellow canal citizens, we wish you well and hope to see you at the event!

Welcome to the canal's new navigators!

See on this page the boats which will be participating in the Blue Days rally and associated events. They will be present in all canalside communes at one time or another during the event, with a concentration at the Union site on Saturday afternoon September 19th, when the two inaugural 'flotillas' will meet. Some boats will be moored at Grimonpont or at the Maison du Canal site in Belgium; or at the Médiathèque site in Marcq-en-Barœul. The trip boats La Décidée and Armentières 2000 will offer trips respectively between Union and Tourcoing and between Wasquehal and Marcq-en-Barœul.

We thank participants in advance for sending us brief profiles (for the boats not yet described).


Sika, length 18.9m, width 2.09m, weight 18 tonnes, is based on drawings and photographs of commercial motor boats built in the 1930s by Yarwoods of Northwich (England). The bare shell was built by R. W. Davis at Saul on the Gloucester and Sharpness Canal in England in 2000 and brought to Belgium by lorry on a ferry via the Dover Calais route. Over the next 5 years the interior was completely fitted out by the owner. Propulsion is by means of a 2 cylinder, 2.5 litre Ruston diesel engine built in the 1950’s that produces 24 hp at 1500 rpm. It was completely renovated before being installed in the engine room. This is mated to a Parsons F type 2:1 reverse/reduction gear (gearbox) that was built from the remains of 5 scrap units, one of which had been in the sea for 6 months. The boatman's cabin (rear cabin) is approximately 2m by 2m and is a faithful replica of the accommodation of the original working boats where up to 2 adults and 2 children used to live throughout the year whilst travelling around the English canal system. Further details

Capitaine Scott is a steel barge built in 1925 by the Heinrich Grubbe yard in Hamburg. It is 17.50m long with a beam of  4.50m. Originally built as a tanker barge, it was used until 1999 for fuelling ships at the mouth of the Weser in Bremerhaven. Converted for residential use in 2003, it is currently used as a skipper's training vessel; its owner, the Comptoir Technique de la Plaisance, runs training sessions that are obligatory for issue of the skipper's licence. It is based at Visé (Liège) in Belgium.

Yolette (French word for a C-boat) belonging to the rowing club 'Aviron Union Nautique de Lille', which will launch 3 boats of this type on the summit level. These are ideally suited to initiation but above all for day excursions, as opposed to competition where speed requires much narrower craft. For more details see the page under L'Union.

Waterdog is a riveted-iron Humber barge built in 1893, which carried coal, linseed oil, cotton and metallic ores on the waterways of Yorkshire until 1979. Originally No 81, it was named Waterdog by British Waterways when it bought this barge, with three others of the same type, in the early 1950s. The current owners bought it in 1996, and are gradually redoing the interior in a more sobre style than the garish orange chosen by the first residential owners in 1979! The barge crossed the Channel from Ramsgate to Dunkirk in July 2008. Bienvenue sur le continent !


Aleida is a Stevenaak, 26m x 4.80m x 1.10m. She was built in 1882 at Slikerveer, near Rotterdam. She remained a sailing barge until 1950 when she had a Mercedes engine fitted, all sailing rig removed and the wheelhouse and back cabin added. She continued to trade, mostly in north Holland as a motorbarge until 1967 when she had further modifications – the deck saloon was added and the wheelhouse extended. In this guise she was used for sport fishing, based at Den Oever, until 1995 when she was finally retired and became a houseboat. After two further changes of ownership she was acquired by the present owners in 2004, sailed back to the UK via inland waterways from Zwartsluis to Dunkirk and thence to Woodbridge on the River Deben. Here four years were spent renovating her externally and remodelling the interior to the owners' taste. Accommodation is now in two double cabins and a twin bunk cabin, saloon, galley, bathroom, workshop etc. Aleida re-crossed the channel in May 2008 and has been in Europe, mainly in France, since then.

Quicksilver is an aluminium day-boat, trailable, hence its owner's hopes that there will one day be a slipway on the canal in his home town of Leers. The boat is 4.50m long with a beam of 1.70m. It has already navigated on the Deûle, the Mayenne, Maine, Loire, Sarthe and Tarn; in addition to the pleasure of navigating and discovering natural landscapes, the owners are keen anglers fishing for the much-berated but in reality quite amiable Silura glanis; this activity is fast growing in France.

Aldo is a Dutch "bolschalk" 14.70m long and 3.50m in beam, with a steel hull dating from 1910, while the 70hp Borgward engine was installed in 1959. This boat has its home port in Armentières, but sails under a Belgian flag.

Wilderness Wanderer is a GRP boat 7m long, built in 1986 by Wilderness Boats in England. Designed specifically to be easily trailed, it has enabled its owners to cruise throughout the French waterways, including the isolated canalised rivers Lot and Charente, as well as on the Brittany canals. It has also navigated on the canals of Belgium, the Netherlands and Germany. The owners spend 4 months each year cruising in France (this year on the Bourgogne-Champagne, the Bourgogne and Nivernais, as well as on the Yonne).

D'n Bruinen (see home page) and Jan Korneel are two 'mussel-boats' painstakingly restored by the association Tolerant in Ghent, which restores historic fishing vessels. The two shapely boats, with their stepped masts, are of the type called 'hengst'. A third has also now been restored and is sailing, but will not be able to make the symbolic cruise to Roubaix because its mast cannot be stepped…

On this photo taken in the 1920s, one of the mussel-boats is seen moored in front of the café "à la Descente des Mariniers", (incidentally a delightful triple pun, since 'descente' refers to coming down the locks, the concept of calling in somewhere in a slightly aggressive mode, and of course guzzling the local beer). This is at the Wattrelos hydraulic lift bridge in Roubaix. The boats came to sell their mussels harvested in the Scheldt estuary. Tolerant plans to take the same photo during the Blue Days event!

Floréal is an Arguin 650 from the Bordeaux boatbuilder Mery Nautic, built in 2006. It can accommodate 6, with all facilities: fridge, gas cooker, water (80 litres), electricity (two 180 Ah batteries), TV. Under a canopy, the stern deck offers additional living space as an extension to the saloon. With a 140 hp Suzuki outboard, its maximum speed is 54 km/h. An inflatable with its 2.5 hp Suzuki is used to reach the shore from anchor moorings. Weiging about 1.6 t, it is easily trailed, and its owners have cruised on the Deûle, Lys, Scarpe, but also on the Seine (through Paris), Lac Geneva, Lake Bourget, the Rhône, Saône, Seille and, in 2010, the canal du Midi.

La VoiX d'Eau is a curious embarkation, as round as a Welsh coracle; designed by the association Détournoyment, it is intended to se rapproche d'une cheminée, comme celles que l'on voit encore à Roubaix et à Tourcoing, appartenant désormais au patrimoine industriel. Ce curieux bateau fera le trajet de Spiere à Roubaix (voire plus loin) avec le comédien, chanteur lyrique et violoniste, plus un barreur.

Neeltje is a Dutch barge 22m by 4.11m (formerly Cormorant) which will have on board the current president of the Barge Association, along with the editor of the association's magazine The Blue Flag.