Sunday, May 28. Mothers Day in France.
Not the best day for us. We cast off from Chaumont and headed through the first lock and all was looking good. About half an hour later 3 things happened. Our engine overheat warning light and alarm came on, the lifting bridge in front of us light’s were all out and so were those of the lock directly after the bridge. And there was nowhere to disembark as the sides were too shallow. Awesome.
We turned the engine off to cool it down and floated around wondering what to do. After a while a very helpful Frenchman from Paris came by on his bike and called the emergency vnf number. They told him they’d send a guy but it would take him an hour to get there.
We decided to turn around and limp back to Chaumont, very slowly, stopping to cool the engine down as we went.
Back in Chaumont Alan spent the afternoon changing the impeller (the cause of the overheating) and I cheered him on from under a nearby shady tree. 31° again. Imagine how hot it was in the engine bay! Spent the rest of the day trying to stay cool.
Monday May 29. We had another go at leaving Chaumont and the engine behaved. The locks seemed to be working fine and all was good. Until the door of the 5th lock of the day refused to open to let us out. Sigh. A call was made to vnf by the French boat in front and I made coffee while we waited. Not too long though. A guy arrived and reset the mechanism and we were released from the 3.5m bug infested depths.
Next stop was Froncles. Really nice quay with 100m of space. The power seemed to be shared by many campervans though so we needed 2 extension cables to reach a free electrical point. It was very hot so we stayed on the boat under the canopy and watched three fighter jets practicing dog fighting in the skies above. Great view. They carried on the next day. I think they are Dassault Rafale B (I googled it :-))
Tuesday 30th May. We decided to have a rest day today after yesterday’s long haul. We walked up to the town and stocked up on fresh food at the Carrefour Express supermarket. The rest of the day was spent reading and watching the boules games nearby.
Wednesday 31st May. We were off at 9am into the first lock on our own. The lock was full of grass and weeds. Really mucky, the worst we’ve seen and it’s been pretty bad at times along this canal. We had to stop after we left the lock to clean out the filter. It was full.
The locks were back to automatic although the lifting bridge in Vraincourt needs a vnf worker to operate it. The locks were all set against us though so we had to wait a bit for each lock to fill up for us. We passed a Dutch peniche going the other way. Another boat is a rare sighting. It’s very quiet.
The landscape is rural and very agricultural with an occasional field of cows. Mainly it’s cropping and lots of it with big paddocks and few fences. Lots of birdsong which is lovely. My favourite are the swallows and their antics, swooping along the waters edge. And the cuckoos. Love them.
We cruised through Donjeux with its small two boat mooring which looked lovely. Maybe another time as we were heading further along to Joinville. We passed over the Marne river and it looked so inviting!
Arriving in Joinville the mooring place looked really nice. The only problem was the power had to be paid by credit card at €2 for 55mins. What?? We decided that was too expensive and didn’t bother. A shame as otherwise it’s nice with trees and picnic tables shared with campervans. Later on we realised there was another mooring further along the canal, attached to a hotel, which was very nice. Still it wasn’t hot so we didn’t need our fans on and saved ourselves the €s.
Joinville is a very attractive town with a stunning chateau, Chateau du Grand Jardin. As the name suggests the gardens are stunning with lots of topiary. The big church in Joinville, Notre Dame, has an impressive exterior. Unfortunately we couldn’t get inside as it was locked up. We did visit the Lidl near the mooring (not quite as cultural) and bought some duck for our dinner, accompanied with a cherry sauce I rustled up.
Thursday June 1st. We headed off downstream to Chamouilly which has a new quay with bollards and power/water. €8 for 16 hours and you pay by credit card into a machine. Must better organised here than Joinville and we really liked the small town which seemed better cared for than some others we visited. A boulangerie by the bridge and a Proximarché (grocers) on the other side. We stayed two nights and visited the church on the Roches-sur-Marne side. The Chamouilly church was being set up for a wedding or perhaps Pentecostal Sunday Mass.
Saturday 3rd June we cruised further along to St Dizier. A very long quay with power and water bornes which you can get jetons (tokens) for at the local cinema or sports complex across the canal. Power jetons last 8 hours. It’s free.
We plan to stay in St Dizier for two nights as the weather has turned cold and wet this weekend. We walked around the town which seems a mix of old and new. Maybe it was the grey weather or the fact it was Sunday and everything was closed but the place seemed a little sad. But the quay and water sports centre are very nice. The nightclub Ambiance is in the cinema complex nearby, open 2300-0400 Fri-Sun but we didn’t hear anything where we are moored down at the lock end of the quay last night.
So that’s the latest update. We’re still heading towards Paris and hoping the water levels stay up. With the hot May we’ve had I hear some waterway levels may be very low which happened two years ago. There’s more rain in the forecast as well as hot days so who knows how that will effect this year’s cruise. Flexibility is the key to this lifestyle!
Here are this weeks stats:
Chaumont-Chaumont (breakdown) 1.1hrs, 4kms, 2locks
Chaumont-Froncles,3.9 hrs, 23kms, 9 locks
Froncles-Joinville, 3.9hrs, 23kms, 9 locks
Joinville-Chamouilly, 4.2hrs, 24kms, 11 locks
Chamouilly-St Dizier, 1.5hrs, 9kms, 2 locks.
There were quite a few lifting bridges in there too
Totals so far this season:
48.7 engine hours