Thursday, 29 June 2017

Epinal/Nomexy/Charmes/Richardménil/Nancy/lock 10/Richardménil/PK43/Charmes/Epinal

Friday 16th June
Epinal to Nomexy PK71
15km/10 locks/4 hours 45 mins

We left Epinal at 8.15am to get to the first lock just before 9am. At 10am we had just gone past what looked like a gravel depot when we both thought “I wonder if there are commercials working on this section of the canal?” when a few minutes later we see one coming towards us!  Luckily it is on a wide section of the canal.  We came across two more fully laden commercial barges.  They are very strange looking as the skipper sits in a wheelhouse at the front of the barge, and as its fully laden it sits very low in the water.
The first commercial we come across

We saw this one coming up the lock so we decided to tie up to a fence and lamp post until it went past,
our worst nightmare would to damage our propeller in a shallow section,
the commercial barges take no prisoners!

The third barge we came across, ominously waiting for us to come out of the lock

This is where the commercial barges load up PK76

We decide to moor up at Nomexy as we had been recommended to go and see the fortress at Châtel-sur-Moselle. We wait until 3.30pm to walk over to Châtel-sur-Moselle to join the 4pm tour.  The underground rooms are supposed to be worth seeing but we were told when we got there that they weren’t running English speaking tours as the tour guide had an injury to her leg and we weren’t allowed to go down on our own.  

We had read on the DBA mooring guide that the mooring can be noisy with youths on motorbikes and mopeds but we suffered no annoying problems, and it was nice to see groups of people playing boules very late into the evening. 

A nice shady mooring at Nomexy

Saturday 17th June
Nomexy PK71 to Charmes PK61
10km/6 locks/2.5 hours

We had a nice easy cruise to Charmes.  It is a favourable mooring in the sense that it has good facilities, water and electric but it is rather crowded with camper vans, overlooking the canal, but once we had moored we got used to them being so close to us.  We felt bad about spoiling their view of the canal. 


Not so Charmes!

A Storks nest made up for the crowded camper van park
It was very close to our mooring so we could hear the noises the stork made with its beak
when its mate returned to the nest

It was very noisy at night with youths shouting and singing nearby until the early hours of the morning.  It is very hot at the moment so the nights are warm and we have the skylights open, so noise does travel. 

Even though it was noisy Saturday night we decided to stay on at Charmes.  It was going to be a hot, windy day on Sunday, plus we had heard that two commercials would be coming up the canal so we’d thought we’d give them a wide berth!!  I know we are always looking out for large barges coming in the opposite direction, but its horrible knowing there is one definitely coming our way!  Even worse when you know there is going to be two of them!

A good decision to stay on at Charmes, two of these came through moving quite fast

Monday 19th June
Charmes PK61 to Richardménil PK30
31km/15 locks/7 hours

We had a very long, very hot day today to make up for being so lazy yesterday!   We had an easy trip to Richardménil and arrived to a busy mooring at just before 4pm.  It is a strange mooring as the bollards are set quite a way back from the side of the canal but there isn’t any space to walk so you have to step over everyone’s ropes.  We were also moored at the end of the quay, no view and it felt very claustrophobic.  The town of Richardménil is situated up on a hill, it was far too hot and we were far too tired to explore.  The heat wave has really set in. 
A busy mooring at Richardménil, we were moored in the far distance
Tuesday 20th June
Richardménil to Nancy
18km/16 locks/7 hours aprox

We had another very long day and it was so, so hot.  We left the Vosges Canal to join the Nancy Branch Canal. This short canal has 18 locks over 12 km.  It links the valley of the Meuthe with that of the Moselle.  We controlled the locks with the same zapper we’ve been using on the Vosges canal.  The first 5 locks were going up and they were awkward as the bollards are quite widely spaced so we used just a bow rope and the engine.  Something we personally aren’t keen on doing, as we have heard of the bow rope failing.  We know how easily a rope slices when under tension when we’ve had to cut a trapped rope going down in a lock.  You just touch it with a sharp knife and bam, its cut through!  The remaining 13 locks are all down, 10 of them are all one after the other over a very short distance. 

We caught up with another boat (a small cruiser) up at lock no.1 of the group of 10 locks as they had a problem with a lock not working, so we shared the next 13 locks with them until we got to the end of the canal.  Bet they groaned when they saw us coming as I am sure we slowed them down a little, and it was such a hot day. 

We were moored up at Nancy by 4pm.  We were almost feeling ill it was so hot and we had no shade where we were moored.  We waited until it was a bit cooler to go and have dinner at Stanislas Square, but the heat and humidity was still there until late in the evening. 

There have been signs/talk that there could be problems on the waterways due to lack of water, so we decided that we would leave the exploring of the Canal de la Marne au Rhin towards Strasbourg for another year and we will make our way slowly back to Roanne, making a detour down the river Saone to Lyon.

We felt really bad that we didn’t stay longer at Nancy, but the heat wave made it so uncomfortable and being in a city environment seemed to make it worse.  We will be back and hopefully we will spend longer there exploring the city.
We were a little lonely moored on this side of the canal at Nancy

Stanislas Square was very impressive

Still 38.4C at 9.40pm in our wheelhouse

Wednesday 21st June
Nancy PK164 to mooring on Nancy Branch before lock 10

We decided to stop at a mooring by a supermarket after lock 26.  We were able to take the trolley to the boat so we bought loads more bottled water, as we’ve been drinking at least 4 x 1.5L bottles a day.

It was due to be another scorcher so we only went through 3 of the locks on the Nancy Branch canal and moored by noon at a lovely, shady spot just before the flight of 10 locks. 
So different from our mooring at Nancy
Thursday 22nd June
Lock 10 to Richardménil PK 30
8km/15 locks/4hrs 15mins

It was another incredibly hot day.  We travelled up the 10 locks in just over 2 hours, all working perfectly.  
You can see the next lock.  They work in a chain so as you go through one lock, the next lock is getting prepared
And yet another lock ahead!

When we came out of the Nancy Branch canal to turn left onto the Vosges Canal, a commercial was just going past, so it ends up being in front of us.  It is moving so slowly, it takes us yonks just to travel the 1km to Richardménil.  It makes our mind up about mooring there again as we would take ages following this slow barge.  

Bad timing as we leave the Nancy Branch canal as this commercial is just going past
we follow it for 1km, painfully slow

Its only 1pm so we decide to walk into the town to find a boulangerie.  Bad decision!  It’s a very steep hill, on a very hot day, the boulangerie is closed and the supermarket is right at the end of the town.  As we are walking there we notice a huge storm heading our way, it was forecast so it wasn’t a complete surprise.  But we realise we’ve left our hatches open, so I run back to the boat whilst Kev continues to find the supermarket.  I get back in time and actually the storm just misses us, probably only by a few miles.  Kev came back with a very flushed face, overheated from the long walk but with a baguette in hand.

We get hooked up to the electric and have our air conditioning on to cool our bedroom down before going to bed.  Bliss, a cool room to sleep in!
We preferred this spot at Richardménil, we had more of a view

Friday 23rd June
Richardménil PK30 to PK 43
13km/8 locks/ 2hrs 45 mins

We have a lovely cruise to moor up in a very quiet spot, shaded again by trees, no other boat moored here.  A bit different to Richardménil, which both times has been jam packed full of boats.
A peaceful mooring at PK43
Saturday 24th June
PK43 to Charmes PK60.5
17.5km/10 locks/4 hours

A pretty section of the canal

Another great cruise to Charmes where we decide to moor back at the same spot as before.  I have a little medical worry, which we decide it would be good to get some medical advice on, so being moored in a town rather than in the middle of nowhere was preferable.  We visit the local pharmacy and there was an incredibly helpful lady who rang a emergency telephone number and arranges for me to see a local Dr later that day and she also then helps us book a taxi to get there as he is in the next town.

I see the Dr, who didn’t speak any Englsih, so with Google translate and my limited French I manage to have a consultation and get a prescription for some antibiotics.

Sunday 25th June
Charmes PK60.5 to Epinal
25km/16km/6 hours

We had a long trip, all our 16 locks were going up, but we are very slick with them and they all work well.  We wanted to leave on Sunday and get through the section of canal where the gravel commercial barges work PK76 to PK81 as we knew they didn’t work at the weekend.  We weren't sure if we could moor up in Epinal as we had heard the embranchment was closed due to low water levels.  But when we got to the locks near to the turn off we asked a VNF man if it was open and he surprised us by saying yes it was.  So we were moored up by 3pm.  Lots of space to moor, which was fab.  The heat wave is breaking and there are storms forecast over the next few days.

My medical concern hadn’t been helped by the antibiotic I was given on Saturday so on Monday we went off to the hospital in Epinal and after spending the morning there being very well looked after, I came away with another prescription for more antibiotics, 5 days worth this time, so hopefully these will work.  We are staying here in Epinal until we are happy that I’m better and also the forecast isn’t good so we probably wouldn’t have been travelling anyway.  We have had some big thunderstorms and heavy rain, so hopefully this will alleviate some of the water level concerns on the canals.

A quieter Epinal port

Thursday, 15 June 2017

Canal des Vosges Corre/Selles/Fontenoy le Chateau/Pont de Coney/PK111/Girancourt/Epinal

Monday 5th June
Fouchécourt PK 381 to Corre PK147 (Canal des Vosges)
20km/4 locks/ 3.5hrs

We left Fouchécourt at 9am and had an easy trip to Corre.  We were sad to see the end of the navigable Soane but we may well return this way later in the year.  The lock that took us onto the Canal des Vosges is a manned lock, we arrived just after 12 noon and there was a red light showing so we thought maybe we would have to tie up and wait until after lunch, but just as we’d almost tied up we noticed the light had turned green and we were through the lock and moored up by 12.30pm.

We had a lovely evening in the sun, and had dinner at the restaurant at the port, just a simple meal but it was fine, and nice to support the local businesses, we always complain when they are shut or closed down!

We decided to stay on Tuesday as the weather forecast was not good, it was very wet and windy and we had a big thunderstorm late afternoon.  We managed to walk to the local supermarket to top up our supplies in between the downpours .

The first lock on the canal des Vosges, we are sadly leaving the navigable river Soane

15 euro a night to moor here, with water and electric, the bank was rather dilapidated
 Wednesday 7th June
Canal des Vosges (Canal d'Est)
Corre PK 147 to Selles PK 137
9.5km/4 locks/2 hours

At our first lock the clicker control seemed to go well at first, the light started flashing on the receiver box by the side of the canal, which showed it had accepted our command, but then as we went past it, it stopped flashing, and we couldn’t see the lock as it was around a corner.  So we cruised along the canal to be able to see if the lock had been set into action, but NO, the red light was showing.  So we had to reverse back along the canal to be able to point our controller at the receiving box to re-activate the lock.  We only knew it had worked when we cruised back to the lock to see the red and green lights on to show it was getting ready for us to enter. Luckily after this bad start all the locks worked perfectly for us.

When we arrived at Selles, we couldn’t just cruise through, it was such a great mooring.  So we decided to stop even though we hadn't cruised that far.  There is a boulangerie that also sells fresh fruit and veg etc.

It did get quite windy in the afternoon so we were glad to have moored up.

A very easy control for the locks, only one button to press, the red one!

You point the control at this and if it has worked the yellow triangle on top of the box flashes
A lovely quiet spot to moor.
We saw the space station fly over later that evening, it was a beautiful clear moonlit night

Selles PK 137 to Fontenoy-le Chateau PK 125.5
12.5km/7 locks/1 drawbridge/3 hours

We arranged for the drawbridge to be opened for us at 9am and the VNF was there dead on time.

The canal is very pretty, very wooded, with a river flowing nearby most of the time.  There were some sharp corners, we met on cruiser just before a tight bend so that was lucky.  The canal coming into Fontenoy was very picturesque and narrow, but it opens up to a large port. 
The canal is right next to a small river called the le Coney

A narrow section to negotiate on a 180 degree corner

Arriving at Fontenoy-le-Chateau

Once you are through the narrow section there is a large mooring area at Fontenoy le Chateau

Friday 8th June 15
Fontenoy PK 125.5 to Port de Bains (Pont de Coney) PK119.5
6 km/6 locks/2 hours

There was maintenance work going on at Fontenoy with a power jack working so we knew we wouldn’t have wanted to stay there for the day even though the forecast wasn’t great.  So we had short (wet) cruise to Port de Bains, we were moored up by 11am. There is a Italian restaurant at the mooring so we had a lunch there and managed to dodge some of the heavy downpours.

Saturday 9th June
Port de Bains PK119.5 to Pont Tremblant PK111
8.5km/8 locks/3 hours

We woke to a lovely sunny day.  Another barge left early ahead of us so we delayed our departure to 9.15 and were out of our first lock at 9.40am.  We had another great cruise; it is such a pretty canal, with not much traffic.  As we came out of lock 22 there was an empty pontoon in a very nice spot so we decided to moor up.  Its great not having a strict plan, or deadline, so we can stop whenever we fancy.

 A peaceful spot which looked very different the next morning!

Our peaceful mooring was invaded by a fishing competition when we got up Sunday Morning

Sunday 10th June
Pont Tremblant PK111 to Girancourt PK97
18km/19 locks/6 hours

We left our mooring at 8.50am to get to our first lock at 9am.  It was a very long day with no break, with a huge amount of locks (19), and not all working properly or in our favour.  There was a VNF man in a van who travelled up and down this section; we were certain there were more problems with the locks when he was around!   There were quite a few boats coming down through the chain of locks, so the locks should have been ready for us when we wanted to go up but the locks seemed to keep setting themselves for non existent boats coming down, so this meant each lock we came to had to empty again before we could go up.  We think possibly a boat ahead of us kept activating the wrong sensor with their clicker as they went up through the lock ahead of us. Once we started the chain of locks there was no time to take photos, it was one lock straight after the other.

We were very hot and extremely tired when we arrived at Girancourt.  It’s quite a large port with lots of mooring spaces but nothing much in the village.  The supermarket was closed Sunday afternoon and Monday morning.

Monday 12th June
Guincourt PK97 to Epinal
17.5km/15 locks/4 hours

We left at 9am and just one ‘up’ lock to go through and then after an 11km lock free section all the subsequent locks were going down, much easier.  It was a very simple trip down the chain of locks, 14 in all, they worked perfectly and we were moored up in Epinal by 2pm.

We stayed for 4 nights in Epinal and thoroughly enjoyed it.  There is a wide selection of shops, a supermarket within 15 mins walking distance, boulangerie about 10 mins walk away, big choice of restaurants, and a very helpful tourist office. 

The river Moselle
Our mooring at Epinal, with electric and water

One day we cycled 6km to an American Cemetery and Memorial at Dinozé.  There are 5,255 souls buried there, it was a very moving place to visit.  We were glad we made the effort to go and pay our respects.  

The French and American flags were placed on this grave to honour a soldier Charles Waddell 
who was killed on this very day 14th June 1944

On the Wednesday evening, Sharon and Alan (barge Drumsara) and Ken and Marion (barge Tammy) came to us for drinks, and we had a very enjoyable evening. They both departed this morning, they are both going in the opposite direction to us, we will be leaving on Friday.