Thursday 26th June
PK57 to Besançon
6 locks, 1 tunnel, 17km
4 3/4 hrs (1 hour waiting at the double lock)
We woke up early again this morning and thought, well, we might as well set off seeing as we are awake. It was a beautiful morning again, but less wind today. As we set off we looked behind us to see a small cruiser coming along the canal, they must have set off early from where ever they moored last night.
We went through the first lock and the Thoraise tunnel, with no problems but when we arrived at the Rancenay double lock the lights were on red and when we activated the control box have it gave us a message to say they were aware of a fault and that the VNF had been advised. The small cruiser that was behind us arrived and then quite a bit later the boat that was moored with us at the weir last night arrived too. We waited for about an hour before the lock was operational. We shared the double lock with the small cruiser. They continued on in front of us and we didn’t see them again.
The river sections were even more stunning, but they need concentration to make sure you keep the recommended distance from the side, and many sections had red and green markers in the river showing us the channel to follow.
We arrived at Besançon by 12.15pm. The approach to the city by boat with the Citadel overlooking the river is fabulous, and very imposing. We moored up after lock 51 and before the lock and tunnel that goes under the Citadel. There are two smart looking floating pontoons, totally empty, perfect for us. One small cruiser arrived late in the afternoon.
We went for a walk around the city to get our bearings. Its very surreal, one night moored up in the middle of nowhere, with nature and very black starlit night skies, the next night moored up in a city. This spot is pretty quiet though, but we’ve had quite a few tour boats come past today. The tunnel cuts under the Citadel cuts out a large loop of the river, but also gives the two tour boats a circular route for their tours.
Later in the afternoon we climbed up to the Citadel, it was still quite hot, we were glad we didn’t try to walk up there any earlier. After a quick look around before it closed at 6pm, we went for another walk around the town, and we then came back to the boat to freshen up. Early evening we had a fabulous pizza at an Italian restaurant called Al Sirocco, where they have a traditional pizza oven to cook in. We then went for another walk around the town, more by the river this time. We walked through a park by the river where lots of young students in groups of various sizes were enjoying evening picnics, it all looked very idyllic.
|Markers showing the channel to follow|
|Coming out of Thoraise Tunnel|
There should have been a curtain of water falling each end of the tunnel, which stops as you activate
the control box, and a light show in the tunnel but it wasn't working when we went through
|Traffic jam at a lock that was malfunctioning, waiting for the VNF to arrive|
|Arriving at Besançon with the Citadel looking down at us|
|Our mooring at Besançon|
The tunnel entrance is just to the left
Friday 27th June
Besançon to Deluz
5 locks, 1 tunnel and 19km
We were up reasonably early this morning and we went off the find the market they have on Tuesdays, Fridays, and Saturdays. It is situated in the Place de la Révolution. We stocked up on fresh fruit and veg and a cooked chicken.
We informed the lock keeper at the tunnel lock that we wished to leave and he said we could after the next tour boat that was due to come through in 10 minutes. The tunnel is wide and high, so it caused us no problems.
We had a peaceful trip to Déluz, where we are moored up on the old town quay. There are some very nice pontoons in the newish marina they have built, but the floating pontoon fingers are not long enough to take us. Our mooring spot is just after the bridge in the village, sadly the electric point is no longer working.
We had mostly river to navigate today, with hardly any canal sections. Our last lock was the double lock and it says in our guide that it is manned but we found it to be automatic. The first chamber had a slidey pole which makes things easier, but the second chamber didn’t have a slidey pole, or any midway bollards in the wall, which a lot of other the deep locks have had on this canal. I managed to throw my rope over the bollard first time, but I had to stand on the roof to reach.
We had a walk around the village, and found the Boulangerie that is now no longer in business and a bar that also acts as the Post Office, Bread Depot, and Fishing Permit point. We had a beer, it would have been rude not to!
|The other end of the tunnel as we exited|
|The sign showing the distance (15m) from the bank we had to keep to, |
the other side of the sign would say 20m for the downstream traffic
|Our mooring at Déluz after the bridge|
Déluz to Baume-les-Dames
6 locks 18km
4 ¼ hrs (1 hour waiting at the first lock)
We set off early again today leaving at 7.50am, but when we got to our first lock at 8am, there were no lights showing. We were on a river section in a narrow navigable channel and there was nowhere to moor up to enable us to go and get help. We knew the lock keepers don’t go on duty until 8.30am so we waited, and we waited, but nothing happened at 8.30am. We managed to get the attention of a passing cyclist and asked him if he could go and use the intercom at the lock to ask for assistance for us. Annoyingly the lock keepers little office wasn’t by the lock where the intercom is, it was across the road so the cyclist, Jürgen from Berlin, (we found out his name later) couldn’t find it and he was too far away for us to tell him where to look. At 9am the VNF engineer arrived, the VNF system had told him that the lock didn’t have any power.
The rest of our trip went well and we arrived at Baume-les-Dames at 12.15pm. There is lots of mooring space but not much available to passing boats, as it’s mostly taken up with smallish cruisers that look like they’ve been here for yonks. It has been raining on and off today so you feel grubby working the ropes, so after a quick shower and freshen up we had a very nice lunch at the busy restaurant that is just next to our mooring.
The rain stopped, the sun came out, it was extremely humid so we went for a just a quick walk, and we found a large supermarket and fuel station. Kev went back to get 40 litres of fuel with his trolley, I got some washing on and did some cleaning. It’s amazing how dirty the boat gets inside and out when you are travelling.
We have had a thunderstorm and its been raining quite hard, we need the rain so we don’t mind. The whole French canal system seems to be struggling with low water reserves, and we heard yesterday about a barge going aground and getting stuck in a guard lock (56b), at PK60.5 near the Thoraise Tunnel, (where we were on Thursday). The lock keeper who helped us today told us it could take a little while to raise the water level enough to get it free. We don’t have a deep draught, only 0.9m so that’s a good thing; but the VNF have said on their website that they want boats to share locks when they can and boats may be asked to wait up to an hour for another boat to join them.
|Our first lock of the day, no lights, not working, no mooring pontoon|
Jûrgen our cyclist rescuer looking for the intercom.....
"It's behind you!"
|Thank you Jürgen and Mr VNF man for helping us|
|Or mooring at Baume les Dames|
Sunday 29th June
Baume-les-Dames to I’Isle-sur-le-Doubs
30km 13 locks 6½ hours
It rained quite a bit during the night and it was raining at 8am when we were thinking of leaving, 10 minutes later it stopped and after checking the river conditions on the internet and there were no warnings, we decided to go. It was going to be a long trip today as there are no suitable moorings for 30km. The mooring at Clerval is no longer permitted, even though they have some very nice floating pontoons. They were supposedly tricky moorings, near a sandbank, so maybe the town decided it was best not to allow the pontoon to be used. It rained quite a bit early on this morning, mainly just when we were going into a lock, but it wasn’t too bad.
We helped a fisherman rescue his inflatable boat, which was drifting downstream while he was standing helpless on the bank. We slowed down and I managed to catch it with the boat hook and we guided it back to him, being careful not to run aground ourselves. I am not sure what he would have done if we hadn’t appeared because we’ve not seen a boat all day.
We arrived at our mooring at I’Isle-sur-le-Doubs at 3.15pm, it is right opposite a supermarket and fuel station, which is very handy.
We were tired after our trip, but the sun has come out so we will now go off and explore the town, even though as it’s a Sunday everything will be closed.
We have left the river Doubs and will now be on the canal.
We've enjoyed the spectacular scenery of the river, with the steep, heavily wooded hills, we seen lots of kingfishers, herons, plenty large fish. The cows we saw yesterday and today were brown and cream, rather than the more common Charolaise white. One or two cows in the herd were wearing cowbells, making a clanging noise which seems very Swiss, understandable as we are less than an hours drive from Switzerland.
Oh dear, its now raining very heavily, bouncing off the water, its like being in a car wash, great for washing down the boat! I am glad we are now off the river, thats pretty good timing. Not sure if we will go and explore the town now, its too wet.