Here we are, moored at Vincelles on the Canal du Nivernais. We were not planning on being on this canal. In fact plan A was to head down the Canal de Bourgogne towards our winter mooring in St Jean de Losne.
However plan A, as suspected, is not going to work. After we left Joigny we headed to Migennes, through three locks. Migennes is at the confluence of the Yonne and the Canal de Bourgogne. At the first lock we were asked where we were heading and the reaction wasn’t positive. The eclusier told us to ask at the next lock.
At the next lock the eclusier spoke a little English and advised us that unless there was substantial rain in the next week the Canal de Bourgogne would be closing for all traffic on the 18th August. The forecast didn’t really have any deluges coming up. Some rain, though not enough.
So on we went through the last lock (5 meters) and tied up at the Le Boat base just out of the lock. We had a chat to one of the staff there who confirmed that was the case. He said all hotel barges had left the area weeks ago and that the canal was also full of ‘herbs’. No, the canal didn’t have basil and marjoram floating in it although wouldn’t that smell nice? Herbs means grass so basically full of weeds which clog up the propeller. This is not good.
A barge pulled in behind us as we were discussing our Plan B and the Brits aboard had just come from that canal and had indeed lost the use of their propellor, due to all the herbs, causing all kinds of drama.
Ok, time for Plan B. We could try going down the Canal du Nivernais which meets the Canal Lateral a la Loire and then we could retrace our steps along the canal du Centre, arriving back in St Jean de Losne.
Sounded pretty good. So after staying a night in Migennes (which is right by a busy railway station, very noisy, although it was the rubbish trucks that woke Alan at dawn), we headed onto the Yonne river which is canalised along the way, turning into the Canal du Nivernais.
It was a slow day with three or four Le Boat hire boats with us the whole way. For most of them it was their first day on the water and it was a steep learning curve! It was slow but interesting. There are those that don’t know what they are doing and are quite happy to say so and ask for help. Then there are those who don’t know what they are doing but won’t admit it and caused a few issues. It was a fun day 🙂
It took all day to get to Auxerre before the locks closed. Auxerre is a city on the Yonne and absolute beautiful. An abbey, a cathedral and a church, and that’s just along the river. It is also very popular and finding a mooring can be a nightmare. We luckily snuck into the last space available and then allowed a rental boat to raft up to us. Some boats were rafted four abreast. The Americans on board were lovely, very funny, and we had a great aperitif hour(s) on their boat.
The next day we had a chat with the capitaine who told us he wouldn’t advise going down the Nivernais on our boat as it would be too shallow. There goes Plan B! If we don’t go down the Nivernais Plan C would mean retracing our steps all the way back along the Yonne, the Seine, the Canal Loing, the Canal de Briare, then the Lateral a la Loire, back along the Centre and up the Saone to finally get back to our booked mooring in St Jean de Losne. And we’d have to motor, it could be done in the time we have left but it wouldn’t be much fun. We had booked our mooring before we left and we thought we might get the boat painted there this winter. We had also ordered a part from engineers in Seurre, downstream from St JDL, which they were going to fit for us.
But this is boating on the French canals. You have to be flexible. Sometimes there are floods (like the fun we had last year on the Canal du Rhone au Rhin) and sometimes there are droughts. C’est la vie.
We were just, begrudgingly, getting used to Plan C and the idea of retracing our steps when Alan and the capitaine came up with a better idea. Why don’t we winter our boat here in Auxerre and they would put it in their hanger and paint it, get that part and fit it, as well as fix some of the ongoing problems we have had that weren’t fixed last year. This would give us a few weeks of leisurely cruising around this area, at least as far as Clamecy which is where it starts to get shallow. Panic over.
So phew! Here we are. Plan D is confirmed. We are puttering around the Yonne and some of the Nivernais,stopping last night in Bailly to visit their massive Cooperative wine Cave (amazing) and are now in Vincelles. It’s a real relief to have an actual definite plan.
Although, this is France so anything can happen!