Tuesday, 26 September 2017

Return journey from Corre to Roanne (Saöne/canal du Centre/Roanne Digoin Canal

Since I last blogged we’ve retraced our route back from Corre to Roanne along the river Saöne, the canal du Centre, and the Roanne Digoin Canal.  We have had a wonderful time, with great weather, no disasters, just about every mooring we planned to stop at was available, and we’ve met some great people along the way.  We’ve taken our time, not moving if the weather was forecast to rain or thunderstorm, staying for a few days if we liked the place, or moved on if not.  We have had to call the police a couple of times, which was unfortunate but dealing with the Gendarmes was a very positive experience, with brilliant response times.

I’ll write a shortish résumé of our trips and moorings.

Thursday 13th July
Corre PK 407 to Fouchécourt PK381
21.9km/3 locks/3.5hr

We stayed two nights at Fouchécourt, which was very enjoyable.  We were there for Bastille Day (Kevs' birthday) and Roger the chef and captainaire put on a mini firework display which was fun.

Saturday 15th July
Fouchécourt PK381 to Port sur Saone PK365
16km/1 lock/1 hr
Port sur Soane

Monday 17th July
Port sur Saone PK365 To Scey-Sur-Saone PK356
9km/2 locks/1.5hr

Scey-sur-Saone was a new mooring for us and it is a beautiful spot just by a weir.  It is a popular mooring for hire boats but they tended to stop for lunch and then move on so it was quite quiet during the evenings.

At the locks on the Saöne there are mirrors which made
for some interesting pictures of Rangali


Idyllic setting at Scey-sur-Saöne
Thursday 20th Juy
Scey-sur-Saone PK356 to Soing PK333
23km/3 locks/1 tunnel/2 hrs 40 mins

We were pleased to be able to moor back at this nice quiet mooring.  We were joined in the evening by a yacht, which moored alongside us for the night.
Our neighbours for the night

Friday 21st July
Soing PK333 to Savoyeaux PK314
19km/4 locks/1 tunnel/2 hrs

One of the canalised section (deviations) on the River Saöne

Even though we weren’t keen on the Savoyeaux mooring when we moored there earlier this year, we decided to stop there again as we knew we could just squeeze onto the end pontoon.  It was fun watching the hire boats returning at the end of their holiday and try and moor up in the tight spots allocated to them.  The hire boats from this place all looked like private boats that were hired out, some of them looked very nice boats.

Saturday 22nd Juy
Savoyeaux PK314 to Gray PK283
31km/1 tunnel/4 locks/3 hours

We set off at 8.50am and had to hang around for a short time for the tunnel to open.  Luckily we were first in the queue so it made our trip very easy and we were pleased to find a space for us on the quay at Gray where we stayed for one week.  We even got electric at Gray which was great (its free there)

Saturday 29th July
Gray PK283 to Mantoche PK276
7km/0 locks/40 mins

We were lucky when we got to Mantoche as a large cruiser was just leaving so we were able to perch on the end of the quay.

We really like the mooring at Mantoche but it was rather spoilt this time by us noticing a young man who was obviously selling drugs, very near to our mooring.  Over a couple of days we slowly put two and two together as we noticed him hanging around with his phone and occasionally a young person would meet up with him for a short time, and then disappear.  On the Monday evening this young guy joined a chap who was fishing extremely close to the stern of our boat and it looked like they were smoking drugs at the same time.  We were sat on our back deck and we tried to ignore them but when the guy who was fishing lobbed his line right over our back awning, we could hear all the bait falling onto our awning roof.  Kev lost it and told them that he was going to call the police as they were smoking drugs!  They scarpered pretty quickly.  We've never seen a fisherman get his gear together so quickly!  Kev did call the police and they turned up within 10 minutes, which is pretty amazing.  We explained what we had seen happening and they drove off to see if they could find the two young men in the village.  We decided to move off the next day.

A nice quiet spot if there are no druggies around!

Tuesday 1st August
Mantoche PK276 to Auxonne PK234.5
42.5km/3 locks/5 hours

We had a long cruise today to Auxonne. We moored back in the Auxonne H2O marina.

Friday 4th August
Auxonne PK234 to St Jean de Losne PK215
19km/1 lock 3 hours including stop for fuel

When we got to SJdL there was no space on the quay so we phoned H2O and they had space for us on their visitor mooring.  It was nice to moor somewhere different at SJdL, it was very peaceful moored in the marina.

A beautiful sunset at our mooring at H2O

Monday 7th August
St Jean de Losne PK215 to Fragnes on Canal du Centre PK8
68km/3 locks/5.5 hrs

We had a really good trip down the Saone to Chalons.  It was a lovely sunny day and we managed to arrive at Fragnes by 2.30pm after leaving SJdL at 8.30am.  The captainaire at Fragnes is off on Monday and Tuesday so she said she couldn't reserve a mooring for us but luckily there was plenty of space when we arrived.  Even better, the restaurant was open so we were able to have a meal.  We thought they’d be closed for their annual holiday but luckily we’d just got there a few days before they closed for two weeks.

One of the big boys on the river Saöne

Wednesday 9th August
Fragnes PK8  to Santenay PK25.3
17.3km/11 locks/5 hours

A very pretty cottage on the canal du Centre 

It was a long cruise today with some delays on locks with either boat traffic coming the other way or malfunctioning locks.  We were pleased to find space for us at our favorite mooring at Santenay.  We decided to stop a few days here; it was quite busy with hotel barges stopping off for a few hours to drop off their guests for tours to Santenay.   We had another enjoyable dinner out at the restaurant Le Terroir in the town.

Saturday 12th August
Santenay PK24.8 to St Ledger sur Dheune PK 32.3
7.5km/4 locks/1 hr 45 mins

Santenay was busy with hotel barges, its a very narrow section.

Monday 13th August
St Ledger to St Julien PK45
13 km/11 locks/ 3hours

Mooring at St Ledger, just out of the town

Since we’ve entered the Canal du Centre its all been up hill locks, some of them are quite deep 5m, with floating bollards.  They are fun to do when sharing with another boat!

Tuesday 15th August
St Julien PK45 to Blanzy PK61.5
16.5km/7 locks/4 hrs 50 mins

Leaving St ledger

Another longish day cruise, we were pleased to find a space just big enough for us at Blanzy. 

Beautiful evening at Blanzy, looks ready for a storm though!

Thursday 17th August
Blanzy PK61.5 to Genélard PK82
19.5km/9 locks/4hrs 30 mins

Saturday 19th August
Genélard PK82 to Paray-le-Monial PK102
20km/7 locks/4 hours including our delay at lock 17

We had pre booked our first lock of the day lock 17, but when we arrived at 9am it didn’t prepare for us.  We had to hang around for ages before a very nice lock keeper drove from Montceaux les Mines to sort it out for us.  While we were waiting a gentleman came from his garden asking if I’d like some vegetables and salad for 4 euros.  It was pot luck what I got, I was given green beans, different types of tomatoes, courgettes, lettuce, onions and some potatoes!  There were so many tomatoes I made a tomato soup and froze it.
Paray Le Monial

We had a lovely time in Paray, it was pretty busy on Saturday and Sunday as there was a big religious event going on. We did experience two disturbances over the week though, which wasn't so good.  On the Sunday morning at 5am I was woken up by a sound of someone on our roof.   We quickly got up and found a young couple standing on our roof by the wheelhouse.  We’ve no idea why they decided it was a good idea to board our boat and I think they got a big fright when they had me shouting at them to get off!!

Later on in the week we also got disturbed just after we had gone to bed at midnight by youths boarding our boat to steal our bikes.  They are fold up bikes and they were in a locked position but not locked to the boat.  We foolishly thought that, as we were in a religious town, there wouldn’t be any crime! 

They managed to get one of our bikes and run off with it.  They couldn’t ride it as it was locked in the fold up position and we had also taken off the saddles.  Kev rang the police and explained what had happened, describing the youths and the bike.  They said they would send someone round to see us.  45/60 minutes went by with no sign of the police.  We then got a phone call to say they had apprehended the youths and had got our bike back!! They said they would return the bike to us the next day, so we went to bed.  We’d just got back into bed when we heard a vehicle.  So we got back up to find it was the police with our bike and three other bikes!  They wanted to know if they were ours too!  They didn’t manage to arrest the youths, as they weren’t found actually with the bikes, just standing away from them.  Then next morning we were phoned at 8am to ask us to go to the police station to file a report.  When we got there after cycling half an hour in the rain, the police on duty looked confused as to why we were there and to start off with were reluctant to take a statement.  But they did in the end, but it will be a waste of time, as we couldn’t really describe the youths.  We were very impressed with the police though and so happy to get our bike back.

Friday 25th August
Paray PK 102 to Digoin/Chavanne PK5
13km/4 locks/2hrs 35mins

We really regret stopping at Chavanne (the woodpile mooring) this time, as we didn’t realise that the trees were dropping sap all over the boat. After rain and then a hot sunny day, the sap baked onto the roof of the boat and made a right mess.  It looked like the roof was covered with rust.  It took me days to scrub the roof clean, losing some of the white paint in the process.

We thought the sap from the trees would just wipe off but NO! Extremely hard to remove!

Over the past few days we had got to know a lovely couple, Werner and Lisa off a very nice Linsen cruiser and we enjoyed quite a few sociable evenings with them.  We were sad to see them leave Chavanne on the Thursday to carry on their journey to Decize for the winter.

Monday 28th August
Chavanne PK5 to Croix Rouge PK49
8km/3 locks/1 hr 45 mins

Phew!  A very hot day and night was spent here at Croix Rouge.  Luckily we had electric so could use our air conditioning in the bedroom.

Tuesday 29th August
Le Croix rouge PK 49 to Briennon PK15
34km/4 locks/ 6 hours

We left Croix Rouge at 7.45am, which is a very early start for us.  We had a great trip and we were moored at Briennon by 1.45pm.  Unfortunately the electric point wasn’t working so we couldn’t use our air conditioning and it was such a hot, and humid day.

Wednesday 30th August
Briennon PK15 to Roanne port
15km/3 locks/3.5 hours

We had a slightly longer trip as they were clearing weed from one section of the canal but we were moored up at Roanne port our winter mooring by 12.30pm.

We were held up at this lock while the weed muncher was fixed (it had broken down)
and then was able to munch up the weed.
We were happy to wait rather than plough through the soup of weed.

Quite a hard thing to manoeuvre 

This was a weed cutter we came across further up the canal

Our last lock of the season
Roanne Port our home for Rangali for the winter

We’ve had a fantastic cruise this year.  We had some very hot days, not much rain, which lead to some problems for some cruising on the canals.  We feel that we were very lucky in the fact that we weren’t badly effected by the low water levels, we always seemed to be able to moor where we had planned.  That could have been because the canals and rivers were quieter this year.  This also meant less socializing than normal, but that was probably good news for our livers!  We travelled 1259 km with 408 locks. 

Wednesday, 12 July 2017

Epinal/Bouzey/Girancourt/PK103/Thunimont/Pont du Coney/Fontenoy/Selles/Corre

We had a very relaxing, recuperating week at Epinal.  We had mixed weather, which was fine with us as we need the rain.  There are concerns with low water levels all over the French canal system.  We had some huge thunderstorms, with big downpours and we noticed the water level rise a little in the port, which is all good news.  Also the inclement weather discouraged the youths of Epinal to hang out late at night in the park so we enjoyed a nice peaceful time there.  It was also very quiet boat wise, due to the low water levels and this short canal section had been temporarily closed up until very recently.

Lots of space at Epinal port

Storm clouds gathering

There was an American themed weekends at Epinal, good fun but very noisy 
The trucks loved blowing their horns

As we are now returning back along the canal des Vosges I’ll summarize our trip back to Corre.

Monday 3rd July

Epinal to Bouzey PK 92.8
13.5 km/14 locks/2 hours 55 mins

Luckily we only met one boat as we went up the flight of locks at Golbey
The flight of locks all work well except one but a VNF engineer was nearby so helped get the lock back into action

Nice pontoon mooring at Bouzey

A gentleman came and gave us a lettuce from his garden which was very kind

It was a bit hot to walk all the way around this reservoir, maybe next time!  Its just by the Bouzey mooring

Tuesday 4th July
Bouzey PK 92.8 to Giranacourt PK 97.5
5 km/1 lock/55mins

Pete our UK heating engineer came to service our boiler at Girancourt. He does a trip to France every year to service his clients who have come over to France with their barges.  We heard on the canal jungle drums he was near Auxerre servicing a Piper barge boiler, we managed to get him to fit us in at very short notice.

Wednesday 5th July
Girancourt PL 97.5 to PK 103
6.5km/7 locks/ 1 hour 50 mins

This mooring was a lovely peaceful mooring, but no TV, mobile or internet signal.  First time we’ve been totally off grid!  Weather is back to being very hot again.

A very peaceful mooring, very hot though!

Thursday 6th July

PK 103 to Thunimont PK 111.2
10km/16 locks/5 hours 45 mins

We left second after a cruiser that was also moored at PK103, which meant all the locks were against us and one lock didn’t want to open its gates to let us in and we had to wait almost an hour for the VNF to come and fix it. I had got off the boat when we first had the problem, as it so often happens there was no mooring to tie up to before the lock and it was a little shallow, so Kev brought the bow in so I could jump off the boat.  I tried to rattle the lock gates to get them to open to no avail so I then called the VNF via the intercom at the lock, and I was told someone would come tout de suite.  But we were still waiting 45 mins later with Kev floating around.  So Kev got off the boat while I held it with a rope and he went and gave the sensor on the lock gate a little nudge with his foot and suddenly the gates went into action and opened for us.  We wish he’d done it sooner!!  He obviously knew where to kick it, rather than me randomly trying to make it work!  We scraped the bottom a little as we moved away from the side of the canal, to go into the lock.  Not a nice sound hearing the propeller ping on the bottom of the canal.
Kev hovered around for over 40 mins waiting for the VNF to arrive to fix the lock

Our mooring we had wanted to stop at was taken up by the cruiser that left before us this morning so we carried on to PK 111.2 a not very pretty mooring but adequate.   We were shattered as it was another very hot day and we’d not stopped for lunch, so we were very tired and hungry.   A sailboat moored alongside us for the night as they were struggling with depth with their 1.6m draft, (we are 0.9m).  They had sailed their boat across from USA so made our trip across the channel seem rather lame!!
We helped out a sailboat as the draught for them was too shallow to moor by the quay
so they moored alongside us

A sad derelict industrial building

Friday 7th July
PK11.2 Thunimont to PK Pont du Coney PK 119
6km/1 drawbridge/5 locks/1 hour 15 mins

We had a simple trip to Pont du Coney (Bains les Bains) and we were in time to have lunch back at the italian restaurant at the mooring.
A lovely mooring Port du Coney (Bain les Bains)
Saturday 8th July
Pont du Coney PK 119 to Fontenoy le Chateau PK 125.4
5.5km/6 locks/2 hours

We enjoyed out trip to Fontenoy and there was plenty of space for us at the large port.  We stayed 2 nights at Fontenoy as the forecast wasn’t good for the Sunday.  We enjoyed a big thunderstorm Saturday night.  Well I did, Kev slept all the way through it!

Lots of space here at Fontenoy

Monday 10th July
Fontenoy le Chateau PK 125.4 to Selles PK 137.5
12km/7 locks/3 hours 15 mins

Another easy trip, it really is a beautiful canal. 

An example of some the lovely views on this canal, a straight bit!

Lots of trees and most of the the time a very smart cycle way which is extremely well used.  We met one lady who had cycled all the way from Spain!

A lock wall, looks like green velvet!

So many gorgeous views I just keep clicking the camera

Tuesday 11th July
Selles PK 137.5 to Corre PK 147
10.5 km/ 4 locks/ 2 hours

We decided to moor back at the town mooring even though its not that pretty.  The canal sides are bulging out and the grass (stinging nettles) are overgrown with large piles of dog poo, and we are charged 15 euros for the pleasure!!  We decided to only stay one night.  We walked to the supermarket to top up supplies and we take a look at the Marina visitor mooring below lock 46 and decide we will move there on Wednesday morning.

Wednesday 12th July
Corre to Corre marina visitor pontoon
0.5 km/1 lock/ 30 mins

This is a much nicer spot to moor on a very smart pontoon, 18 euros a night and no dog poo!!   We have lunch at the marina restaurant and very tasty it was too.  We decided to stay at Corre today mainly because it was forecast to rain a lot today and it has, so good decision!
A great visitor pontoon at the marina, all brand new

Very nice marina at Corre

Notice the lake to to left of the canal, full of water this was when we went past beginning of June

The same view as we came back beginning of July now empty of water,
I hope we do get a good lot of rain to help the water shortage here in France