May 11, 1013.4 engine hours BC (Before Cruise).
We’re off and cruising!
We woke up Friday morning, (as you do), our list of things to do before we head off, was incredible, mine especially as after about five weeks of work with only a day and a half off, on my first day off (Thurs 10th), I couldn’t get motivated and lazily, could barely lift a finger to do a thing from my list except a couple of odd jobs. So when Vanessa woke and said, “ya know, we could leave this afternoon”, I groaned but said “yeah, we could… But”, there was no but, motivation kicked in. We ran around and get this, a list of stuff that I felt would take all day was done by lunch. “D’ya wanna go for it?” “Why the hell not”. So we quite simply, threw the bikes on the back deck, unplugged, untied and the great adventure began. I might just add here that our good Kiwi friend Ted, arrived seconds before we set off, with a bottle of Crement, (sparkling wine from the region), and wished us a merry bon voyage, what a star.
Through the first lock, no worries, there was a boat in the lock already, so Vee had to negotiate some tricky backwards and forwards before we could gain access to the lock. And then off n running down La Saône, a huge great river, after having been moored on the canal for nigh on two years, it is so wide. Alright, so I’m not going to bore with EVERY lock we go through, but for the first few daze, yes, because, well we’re newbies and kind’ve clueless, (tell me fifty times, show me twice). The first lock we come to on La Saône, huge, I mean huge, like big huge, and I realise we don’t have long enough ropes to reach whatever depth we’re going to go down, little panic, nothing serious as while I’m running around doing my headless chicken impression, the gates close and we start lowering. There’s a huge sign before entering the lock, “life jackets must be worn, boats MUST be moored”, whatever, we were the only boat in there though, and really, our boat in this huge beasty of a lock, a toy boat in a bathtub. The next lock however, that was scary, but I’m getting ahead of myself.
The thing about leaving at three in the afternoon is that it doesn’t leave a lot of time, especially if you’re having fun, we sailed(?) into Seurre, and out, it seemed like a good place to stop, but Vee was having way too much fun, and carried on through. This is fine, (we live very near and can visit any time we want, although we haven’t yet, one day I’ll tell you about Castille de Columbus), but there is no place to moor on the river, rivers tend to have shallow shores. So, it’s getting on now, seven o’clock, there’s a village coming up, but alas, no mooring, we could go back to Seurre, but that seems a bit pointless, (going backwards is always pointless), we could moor up for the night at the next lock, which is within four klicks now. Then I see a jetty, but it’s outside of the red (don’t go beyond this) warning pillar. We have a very shallow boat, and this jetty looked so inviting, so very gradually, we crawled in, me on the bow checking the depth all the time to make sure we’re all good. I have the honour of being stuck on a tidal sand bank for about four hours in Poole, Dorset, so believe me, my concentration here was full on. This jetty was only one quarter of the length of our boat with no actual mooring pins, so with much swearing, wtf are you doings, new paint being scraped, and the boat’s arse getting seriously close to shallow waters, we moored. And by golly, what a beautiful place for our first night. No sound of traffic, not even a whisper, and once the sun was down I could only see one artificial light, far, far away on the horizon. Illegal of course, honestly officer, we did not see that (sun faded) private property sign, no, not at all. Mind you, any one that did come by with the intention of moving us on would probably have ended up congratulating us on some superior parking (I mean mooring). I’m not going to describe this place, just feast your eyes on the images.
I nearly forgot to mention the stars! We haven’t seen stars in so long because of the light pollution around St-Jean, real proper sky like we had in Spain. Paint your palette.
I will say that that was a stressful day for the kids (cats) though, not liking the engine noise, deciding they do not want to be stuck in the back of the boat when we’re in the front, which happens to be the quietest place but not the best place for them as the front doors need to be easily opened (so we can both work ropes in the locks), without worry of a feline deciding to make a mad dash for freedom and running out of boat, (splash). But for them, once we moored and they were allowed onto this small slice of heaven, happy as… Trees, grass (man!) and peace from that infernal hrududu. FYI, we bought a trellis to put in a doorway that separates the wheelhouse/salon from the rest of the boat, it was secured with hooks screwed into the door frame, Lara, who doesn’t take no for an answer, pushed through that like a bulldozer, no back seat driving for her, in fact her favourite spot is on the counter top, right next to the wheel, bless her.
1017.9 engine hours.
Pk 180, just south of Chazelle on La Saône.
I slept like a log, Vee didn’t, she was too enamoured with the stars and kept waking up to gaze. We had no worries getting off the jetty, gently does it, I’ve learned that pushing a boat with all of my strength does strange things, they tend to swap ends, or the end you push harshly ends up pivoting the other end of the boat, (that you also want away from the bank), right into the bank. Off we go, thanking this-hard-to-get-to-without-profanity jetty.
Not a lot to say here, I worked out we were cruising at 7.5 klicks an hour at a steady 1350 rpm (thank you Pippa and Brian), a bit speedy but we we’re running with the river. We saw heaps of heron, a couple of great crested grebe (I think), shaking their head side to side as they swam, and a few idiots in boats wrecking the banks and upsetting our kids with their huge waves as they rush to get wherever they’re going, and fishermen, my goodness how many??? And in amongst all this, a lock, another huge lock, The Scary Lock, not because of the size, but because of my incompetence. I’ve been told, always moor from the stern, I know, I know, but Vee can’t hear me and I can’t hear Vee because the kids decided that they wanna be front seat drivers rather than in the back, so windows and doors have to be shut. So, being as we’re newbies and need communication, I decided to moor at the bow. There’s a lot of water movement in a lock, water that tends to move boats in an unwanted manner, so there I am at the front, rope in hand, the lock starts emptying and the stern decides that, while the bow is on the port wall, it would rather be on the starboard, sorry about thus, but oh fuck, we’re about to straddle the lock when I (quite rightly, I think), pull the rope from the mooring and shove off from the wall with a boathook. It was okay though, the boat couldn’t have swapped ends, I know this because there was a knock from the quarter stern as it hit the wall, Adventurer is longer than the width of the lock, yay, I think! I looked up at the lock control tower in embarrassment, but all was good, the controller nodded and smiled (and probably thought I need some lessons), and waved us through.
A brief chat with Vee in calmer waters, and we decided, being as Adventurer is a light boat, only five tons, it may be an idea to try mooring in the locks from the middle, like a friend, (who solo cruises), does. This works a treat, I can see Vee to signal in the rear view mirrors, and she can shout to me and mostly I can hear, though we have only tried this once, but this once was in a deep 10.75 metre lock with floating bollards.
Weird thing, there’s lots of these, but for now… Maybe I’m used to motorways and the like, I really thought that on the approach to Chalon-sur-Saône, there would be huge signs signalling right turn for the Canal du Centre. No, nothing, and unless I’m very much mistaken, the last three pk kilometre signs (counting own ((or up)) to your destination), were missing too. So we actually overshot our turn off by a few hundred metres. It’s all good fun.
1023.9 engine hours
Pk7 just south of Fragnes on the Canal du Centre