Saturday May 20th. We departed our home port of St Jean de Losne after topping up our water tanks and buying a crusty baguette for lunch. The weather was very cloudy and only 12° although at least it wasn’t raining, yet. Our destination was Auxonne, up the Saône river about 16kms away and only one lock.
On Friday we had dropped the rental car in Dijon and taken a train back to the port (30mins). The rain was almost torrential on the drive but there was a break for our walk from the station to the port. However a kind lady picked us up and drove us back. This is obviously a common occurrence and our second lift from the station. Madam told us she works in Dijon as do a lot of St JdL residents if the large number of passengers alighting here is anything to go by. Very friendly and kind people.
So off we went on our 2017 inaugural cruise. There were some big black clouds looming overhead but the sun was struggling to shine. The wind was chilly. There was quite a lot of traffic on the river. We passed boats heading the other way including a wide body narrow boat.
We waited at the Auxonne lock in the rain for 15 mins until it was free then locked through with two other boats (one kiwis from Palmerston North, the other British). No problems and we arrived in Auxonne at 13.45, tying up in the marina. First day and first lock of 2017 done and dusted!
We walked into town (fun fact, Auxonne is where Napoleon did his Army training), bought some fresh milk and quiche lorraine for dinner.
The mooring cost €14 for the night including power.
We enjoyed a quiet rosé on the deck as we watched a hot air balloon drift by.
Sunday 21st. I walked into town for our last baguette for a few days while Alan topped up our water and we were off.
There are a lot of locks on the Canal Entre Champagne et Bougogne but the great thing is they are operated by a remote control. There is a machine that drops the remote out and away you go. Press Avalant for descending or Montant for ascending as we were. Once in the ecluse theoretically you press the Bassinée button, the doors shut and the lock process starts. This worked most of the time. When it didn’t we could manually lift the big blue pole thingy to start. If you can reach it. If not, up the ladder you go, slimy and murky as it is.
We arrived in Oisilly, by an old viaduct, and tied up along the side of the canal in the shade. A lovely spot all by ourselves.
Monday 22nd we headed out just before 9am after I did some yoga on the aft deck which was lovely and Alan got the boat ready. My yoga ‘zen’ didn’t last long as today I decided to put my big girl pants on and take control of the boat. In and out of locks with barely a scrape, things were going very well. Then my luck failed on the way out of a lock when the fenders all popped up (the locks are filled right to the brim) and I did hit the side just a tad. I wasn’t having any fun at that point and had a wee break from the stress. I think I can at least manage the boat if I had to now but I also think my skill set is firmly working the ropes!
We finished up the day in Cussey where there is a mooring with power but no water available. Also no shops as expected. Eventually 3 other boats arrived to join us, 2 yachts (French and Brits) and one cruiser (Swiss). We went for a bike ride further down the canal along the bike track which was very pleasant. The weather was beautiful.
Tuesday 22nd after another short yoga session we headed off and things were going well until lock 13 where we were stuck inside a lock with double red lights meaning it’s kaput. So up the ladder we went and I called on the intercom stuck on the side of a shed to talk to VNF. My French is obviously getting better because a very nice lady sent a very nice man down in his (not that nice) van to sort out the problem and after discussing what our plans were for the next few days we headed off again and tied up for the night in Piépape which used to have a boulangerie but sadly that shop been closed for some time. A common occurrence. We are surprised at how quiet the canal has been. Today we saw only saw 2 other boats.
We’ve been out of Internet coverage for a few days and I got a nasty shock to see I’d missed quite a few calls from family letting me know my mum was sick. It is times like these you realise how far away from home you are, how much you rely on the Internet for communication and how lucky I am to have 3 sisters and a brother who have got things under control. Get well soon, Mum!
Tomorrow we will be heading through a 5km tunnel and on to Langres. Here are a few pics from the last week.