Besançon was lovely. We had such a nice time but we knew we had to get back to St Jean de Losne soon. We have to organise some work to be done on the boat, get it winterised and then grab a train to Dijon, Paris and a flight back to New Zealand. We planned to leave on Monday but the weather looked a bit wet so we waited. Tuesday came along and it rained most of the day. Wednesday arrived and we knew we should leave. We waited for some word from the VNF but the Capitaine of the Besançon port wasn’t at work today. We hummed and hahed. Was it safe to leave and go downstream?
In the end we decided to go. Off back around the loop of the city, through a lock and onto the Doubs river.
The river looked better than it did last week and the rain had eased. Excel
An hour or so into our trip, at a double lock where we descended over 5 metres, it started to pour down. This lasted for about an hour. We kept going, drenched, figuring the sky looked light further ahead. More locks and a tunnel. At the other end of the tunnel were a few VNF people. Alan chatted to the woman and no one said anything about floods and, even better, the rain had stopped.
So on we went, making good time as we were going downstream at a pretty good speed. More locks, bit of rain, nothing much.
We were almost at our destination for the night, Ranchot, when we came to a flood gate that was shut. Normally you can use the VNF automatic gate zapper thingy to open these if they are shut, but this one didn’t have any lights, no automatic gates, just 2 big iron gates closed. There was no pontoon to disembark onto so Alan got as close to the bank as he could and I launched myself into a bank of blackberry bushes and scrambled up. Ouch! I walked up to the iron gates. Couldn’t open them manually as they were padlocked. Hmm. I saw a man working on the roadside so asked him if he knew how we could open the gates. Turns out he has nothing to do with the river, he only works on the roadside. But he very kindly offered to phone the VNF and ask what was going on. He spoke no English so I couldn’t really follow what he said but after 5 different phone numbers he found someone who said they would come. I thought they were coming to open the gate. Twenty minutes later a lady arrived in a VNF van and said, in French, that the river was in flood again and they had just decided to close it. How long did they think? One maybe two days she shrugged. Once the water levels went down.
Can I just say at this point that we were in the middle of nowhere, on a canal with nowhere to get off the boat.
We said to the lady, we only want to go to Ranchot, 3 Km’s down river. Just one flood gate and a lock and we would be there.
Shrugs galore but that was it. She pointed towards our left and said there were shops at a village, 15 minutes walk. And off she drove.
So, for the next half hour we nosed our way around the canal banks trying to find a spot we could get off and put some stakes into the ground. There might be a big flood heading this way and we didn’t want to get washed away in the middle of the night. Although as Alan pointed out we would only get washed as far as the big iron gates so bashing into them would save us. Excellent.
We eventually manhandled our way into a bit of a space on the bank, hammered in some stakes and here we are. The sun is now shining. A yacht has also turned up. And now we wait. And wait.
I hate waiting 😞