The Albert channel is a canal between Antwerp and Liège. Dug out by hand (1930-1939) with almost 12 000 workers it has a total length of 129.5km. It's depth varies from 4.5 to 5.5 meters. The height difference of 55m between Antwerp and Liège is overcome by 6 locks.
Major modernization work was started in 1961. The canal was widened and deepened, push canal locks were built next to the pair of existing locks. Being 200 meters long and 24 meters wide these new locks could accomodate bigger ships.
Before the construction of the Albert channel it took minimum 15 days to sail from Antwerp to Liège. You had to cross 155 km's of small channels and 24 manually operated locks to get there, of course with a small ship.
The ground breaking ceremony of the Albert channel was on may 31, 1930 by King Albert 1. Nine years later the channel, that's named after him, was finished but the celebrations were cut short because of the start of World War 2. All the recently completed bridges were blown to bits to stop the progress of the Germans. Although that was a measure of no consequence because two bridges survived and the rest is history.
Kayaking on this wonderful channel is a fun experience. There is a lot of traffic, the passing ships make beautiful waves. In some places, like in Massenhoven fast moving boats are allowed, so always keep an eye on the traffic. Partly for your own safety and to catch some great waves. If there are a lot of boats passing you get reflecting waves of the concrete walls. These make kayaking in this channel such a wonderful training.
You are not allowed with your car on the towpath next to the channel, not even to quickly unload your boats. Once you are on the dike, please beware of passing traffic on the towpath. Getting into the channel isn't that difficult if the water isn't to choppy. The edge of the channel is a concrete ledge, a good place to launch youre boat from. When you are on this ledge, beware of the waves made by passing boats, these can be very high and sweep you of your feet. Always stay out of the way of the bigger ships, they can't stop nor can they still see you when they get closer.