Cruise August 22-26

22 August

Not much to say, cruise was fine, we moored at a little out of the way place, unfortunately the “road” that should have been a cycle path is actually a road, but with only five cars passing all afternoon it wasn’t so bad. We also had to moor in full sun as in Vandanesse we managed (deliberately), almost full shade, so the solar cells had a day off too, so now our soc (state of charge) is below 80%, nothing to worry about, but if it clouds over, it could be. We bought a duff coconut, I always shake them, if they have liquid inside the chances of them being okay is better, but this one was off, annoying at €2 a pop, coconuts are so good to munch while cruising along.

August?¿!

1191.4 engine hours.
178 trip hours.
2.7 hours today.
9 locks 7 km.
Total 328 locks 608 km.
pk 170 Crugey on the Canal de Bourgogne.

23 August

One of those mornings, but if it hadn’t have been we wouldn’t have moored in such a super spot. We arrived at the first lock at nine o’clock, but the lock keepers didn’t, they rolled in at twenty past but didn’t look to be setting the lock up for us, a few minutes later we saw a hotel barge on the other side, so we temporarily moored Adventurer and waited. By the time the hotel had passed us and we cleared the lock it was quarter to ten, one klick and one lock in one hour, what can I say, our speed is becoming legendary. Everyone, even the boats we’re playing leapfrog with, (Canard Perdu, Kaya and a Kiwi boat that doesn’t appear to be named), that aren’t early starters, started early today, so we get into a convoy. Around ten thirty all three boats in front are temporarily roped to the bank?¿!  Yer man (I’m crap with names), on the duck comes back to us and tells us that a hotel barge, the Saroche, has broken down IN the next lock and we are going to have a wait as there’s another hotel waiting to come through the other side. We figure that calling it a day is best as by now lunchtime is fast approaching and it’ll be after one before we clear this next lock. After the Pouilly tunnel we started seeing canal side adverts for a “shopicerie”, open all day with no interruptions, meaning they don’t close for lunch. Very likely, actually almost certainly it’ll be expensive as we’re in the “no supermarket” zone of about sixty klicks along the canal. Every ad we see promises the shop is wonderful, lots of products and open, we’re a few hundred metres from it, so I decide to check it out, maybe get some bread and top up our supplies. It’s shut! It turns out that it closes on Thursday but that fact was never mentioned in the adverts. Meanwhile, the broken barge in the lock has been pulled out and the other barge is coming up. The Kiwis in front move over to the other side of the canal and we realise it’s going to be a bit tight for the oncoming barge to pass us by, we’re not on the corner but these things are huge, so we move too. We’re told that despite it being very close to lunch, the lockie will put the four waiting boats through, two then two even though this will delay his lunch, what a guy! On the other side of the lock is a beautiful area, perfect for the kids, so we moor up.

Great place for the kids.

I mentioned the rug that Squeaky sleeps on, the “crow’s nest” on the roof of Adventurer a couple of posts ago, but didn’t get around to explaining said rug. You may find this odd, you may find this disgusting. During the winter with the neighbours cats, the “terrorists” in full swing, Squeaky was sometimes caught short and unfortunately used the rug to relieve herself, (unbeknown to us, you may think that’s not possible, but she’s a diddy cat, diddy puddle, and in the winter with the tarp over the boat and everything closed because it’s so cold, the boat does take on a certain aroma, which we disguised with incense sticks), only pee thank goodness, but nonetheless when we took it up in spring, it was quite fragrant. We never got around to washing the rug, another chore to do while working, not very warm to dry it and prepping the boat for our cruise. It got put onto the roof for another day, which never arrived. Disgusted?? Well don’t be, cause we think that, while on our cruise and to the cats the environment is always different, our boat has that fragrance that we can’t smell, (it’s been rained on numerous times), but the cats can and that is why they always come back to the boat, it’s a worthy theory. And the bicycle tyres? I never knew which bin to throw them in, but we then found a use for them protecting the hull of the boat when there is a really low quay without having to re-tie all the fenders, or a stone protrudes a little too much on a bank, besides, now the “crow’s nest” is complete, Squeaks loves it, that rug is all hers now after all.

The rug.

Hmm, I seem to write a lot about the Squeaks, probably because she’s younger and more outgoing than Heidi and Lara. While moored here, Squeaky went off on a jaunt, we let her as she always comes back, if she is too long away all we have to do is rattle her bowl and she comes running. When she came back this time, she stank, to high heaven. She’d found a pile of something a sheep had left behind and decided that it was something she liked, and rolled in it, pee-yew. I’m still walking the kids once, more often twice a day to tucker them out, I love it and they do too, although more often than not it is just me and Lara. I’ve been wondering about this and have realised that Heidi and Squeaky know that how far we walk away from the boat means we have that same distance back, whereas Lara hasn’t cottoned on to this and just keeps walking, I have to physically pick her up, turn her 180° and start walking her home or she’ll walk until she’s had enough and then lay down and look at me as if to say, “I’m done now human, carry me”.

1194.5 engine hours.
181.1 trip hours.
3.2 hours today.
6 locks 7 km.
Total 334 locks 615 km.
pk 177 between locks 23 & 24 on the Canal de Bourgogne.

Cold weather, warm canal.

24 August

Oh My Goodness! We have had a super morning cruising. Credit where it’s due, the two lockies who travelled with us for ten klicks and nine locks were superb, professional and just plain brilliant. The first lock was ready for us, and then one went ahead to prepare the next while the other stayed and finished seeing us through the current lock. I was nearly in tears with joy, it makes such a difference, not just because it speeds things up, (we’re not in a rush, but trying to hold Adventurer in the middle of a canal while waiting for a lock to fill up is a pain, especially when a, there’s a breeze and b,  it could so easily have been ready for us), but also because it is such a pleasure to cruise. I wish we’d have had some beer onboard to give them to say merci beaucoup chaps, job well done. I am ecstatic, my faith is restored, I want these two to see us all the way back to St-Jean.

We’re so happy we treated ourselves to a meal out in Gissey where we’re moored for the night. While walking back we saw an advert for fresh, home grown veg from someone’s garden. Yay, he was open. We stocked up with proper, unadulterated chemical free salad and veg for a fraction of what they would cost in the shops, especially as in France, and most likely other countries, you put “bio” in front and, like “artisan” and “marine”, the price goes off the chart. Life is good. We got some free advice too, I was going to steal into a field and (ahem) pilfer some corn cobs, but yer man told me all the corn in this area is grown for cattle and pigs, that would have been disappointing being no where near as sweet or moist, bah.

1197.6 engine hours.
184.2 trip hours.
3.1 hours today.
9 locks 10 km.
Total 343 locks 625 km.
pk 187 Gissey-sur-Ouche on the Canal de Bourgogne.

Attempts at photographing a heron in flight.

25 August

How’d you learn that dance? Slow, slow, quick quick, slow. That’s the story of the cruise so far, with only 48 kilometres back to our temporary home base we’ve slowed to a snail pace, and we’ll probably come to a standstill in the next few daze, probably??? definitely!!! We had un petit cruise of six klicks today into Pont de Pany, a village where, when our map book was written had both a bakers and a restaurant/bar, sadly they’ve both gone on permanent vacation. We visited the tourist information centre, because they’re there and always helpful, we were given a big, brilliant, in depth book all about the region we’ve just spent the last three and a half months touring, typical, I daren’t look too much in case I see something I’ll be gutted to have missed, but there’s still Dijon, the capital of the Bourgogne, (and that microbrewery bar that I visited when I came up here oh so long ago to view boats; sightseeing at its best). (This book is really good, it’s called the Best of Burgundy, by petit fute, retails at 6.95€, but we got ours for free being a “sample”, thank you, it tells you all the history of the various places before going on to describe in excruciating detail about restaurants. The translation isn’t brilliant, but hey ho, it is readable). Anyway, nothing to see here except a ruined Château in the hills, in other words a pile of rubble, interesting? not. So I cycled along to the first supermarket in forever and got some beer to make a drizzly and quite frankly, cold (14°/58° in August???) Saturday arvo a bit more cheerful.

We had a great cruise this morning, one lockie was with us and the Kiwis for the six klicks, even the fact that the Kiwis preferred to race off at top speed, (actually leaving the lock at cruising speed, something the lockie didn’t seem to pleased about), didn’t phase us as by the time we arrived at the next lock, the lockie had only just got the lock ready, while the Kiwis had been hanging around waiting. When we stopped they carried on and when I cycled ahead they were nowhere to be seen, ta ta Kiwis.

1200.0 engine hours.
186.6 trip hours.
2.4 hours today.
5 locks 6 km.
Total 348 locks 631 km.
pk 193 Pont de Pany on the Canal de Bourgogne.

Super mural on the side of Pont de Pany VNF depot.

26 August

What the blue blazes is this??? We woke to 6°/41° with heavy mist, ’twas cold I tell you, Vee put her jeans on. I wasn’t even sure if we’d be able to cruise today but this was two hours before we were due to head off. Er hello? This is August, where’d all the lovely weather go to? I spent a good few minutes trying to coax the kids out of bed for their walk, (far easier said than done), them cats are not stupid.

Easy cruise today just going four klicks to Fleury, (slow, slow, quick quick, slow). As soon as we moored we were on our bikes to the supermarket again, (the sun is out now and after the cold start to the day, it is now glorious), yesterday I saw a bottle of Belgian beer that sounded rather special but didn’t want to carry it then, (headwind and drizzly). Apples at just 1.50 a kilo and something to give the squash we were given some pzazz, (lardons and mushrooms). We found a great spot for the kids so we’re taking tomorrow, Monday off, yay. That’s it for now, I need to find some WiFi to put this post up, which (hopefully) will mean a visit to a pub.

Oh. Yum.

1201.7 engine hours.
188.3 trip hours.
1.7 hours today.
4 locks 4 km.
Total 352 locks 635 km.
pk 197 Fleury-sur-Ouche on the Canal de Bourgogne.

PS. I gotta mention this, no opinions. You’ll find the vast majority of wheely rubbish bins locked in France, I suppose that’s kind’ve fair as the owner is paying to have that rubbish taken away. Then you see a rubbish bin in the street with a notice saying not to put rubbish in this bin, unless you are a client of the owner of said bin?¿!I

Good grief Charlie Brown

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​Cruise August 18-21

18 August
A great cruise into Pouilly, going by the cruising “formula” of ten minutes per klick and ten for a lock, we should never have made it before lunch, but we did with half hour to spare, the locks were being filled super quick, but cause we were on our own, and at the back of the chamber it wasn’t so turbulent. No problems. I topped off the fuel tank and jerry cans, which was a relief, for no other reason than I’d rather fill up often than have the huge expense and exertion filling up a nearly empty tank, (from empty ((heaven forbid)) to full is six trips carrying two jerry cans, and currently €350), the petrol station was a stone’s throw away, so I didn’t even break into a sweat carrying one jerry can on my shoulder and the other strapped to a trolley, (a lucky find by the bins).

Ack-shully, while I’m here talking about fuel, I might just say some stuff that’s important to me. I recently boasted that we’re using less than 1.4 litres an hour, what a load of bollocks that is! One of the ideas behind living on a boat was, among other things, to cut our carbon footprint down, and in that we’ve failed pathetically, so pathetically we may actually have doubled what was our footprint in Spain?¿! I forgot to take into account the VNF who travel back and forward on our account, the other day whilst going through the staircase we had three mopeds travelling with us. We always have at least one moped, sometimes a car, whenever there is a tight succession of locks we’ll have two mopeds. Oh crap!! I’m gonna leave that there for the now. There is a solution that we’re starting to discuss, it’s quite bold, but it is more for Future Vanessa and Spike at the moment.
While moored at Pouilly a little boat we recognise came in, the Perdu Canard, (the Lost Duck), the last time we saw her she overtook us on the Canal de Centre heading for the Nivernais. While we’ve poodled along, the Duck has gone up the Nivernais onto the Yonne, down the Canal du Loing, Briare and lateral à la Loire, then up the Nivernais again before arriving here, (950 klicks +/- to our 420). It’s amazing how well travelled cruisers are when no cats are involved, I’m kidding, that sounds like too much work, I like our speed.

In all the places we’ve been, we have never managed to be there at the right time for an event, be it a Johnny Hallyday tribute, car boot sale or whatever. In Port de Pouilly, on this night there was a craft fair, so we went because we could, don’t worry I won’t bore you, we got some overpriced handmade soap each, and we shared an overpriced beer. There’s a thang in the boating community, you go to a shop and, for instance, buy some plywood, but if you happen to ask for marine plywood, you can expect to pay double for the same piece of wood. I realise now that by adding the word “artisan” before any other word, be it soap, bread or beer or whatever, this also doubles the price. Vee has used her soap and it smells wonderful, expensive but good, the beer was average and his pricing was somewhat wonky, you could buy three individual bottles together for 16.50, but if you bought those same three bottles in a  nondescript cardboard box, it’ll cost you a fiver extra, bwa ha ha. Did I bore you?

Château de Châteauneuf on the hill.

As we passed through the last lock to the summit, we had our safety check to go through the tunnel, all in French I might add. There was a bit of confusion with our spotlight, it’s under the canopy not on the top, “look man, there, there”, have you got lifejackets? yes, and that was it, “c’est bon”. We arranged our time, got told to return before our departure to pick up our ticket and radio, (radio??), over and (out) done with. In hindsight, (I’m writing this on Sunday, the tunnel is now behind us), the tunnel is easy peasy, but with the safety check, (turn the navigation and spotlights on ✔, have you lifejackets ✔ taking your piece of paper, (ahem, ticket), and the two second instruction on how to use the radio, (press this button, shout HELP!!), it all gets a bit intimidating, it’s all good though. The tunnel is, oh wait, that’s tomorrow.
1185.7 engine hours.

172.2 trip hours.

2.7 hours today.

11 locks 6 km.

Total 311 locks 593 km.

pk 155 port de Pouilly-en-Auxois on the Canal de Bourgogne.

293.96 metres ascended.
19 August
🎶Woke up got out of bed, dragged a comb across my head 🎶
Six thirty I was up this morning, and still the fisherman beat me, two rods off the bow and two off the stern, always happy and with a bonjour and a smile for the kids as they investigate if the humans have caught anything. (A while ago our neighbour was fishing, Squeaks took a caught fish and ate it while Fabreze was distracted, tee hee). 
I went over to the lock to pick up our ticket and CB radio, (was tempted to see if “Creator” is still on the airwaves), and off we go. I have the helm cause of my comments after Baye, Vee has a boat hook ready in return for her’s, all good. It felt like we were approaching a movie set “tunnel of love”, the trees over the years have leaned over the canal, beautiful, (but slightly worrying). I gotta say, the tunnel was awesome, the fact that three point three klicks into the future you can actually see the, ahem, light at the end of the tunnel, bloody wow! My cruise through was easier we both agree, I had lights in the tunnel and the walkway that Vee had was admittedly very off putting, but still, nah Spike, leave it there 😉 These photos should give some sort of wow factor?¿!

Flower at château de Châteauneuf.

You gotta appreciate, I hate wasted anything, especially water, I’ve lived in Andalusia and read Dune, don’t waste water! While picking up the radio and whatnot at the VNF, I was asked where we are going today, I said just the tunnel today. So I was a bit surprised when on the other side of the tunnel, as we approach the quay, a very flustered VNF lady runs around from the lock and questions us why are we mooring. Apparently she has readied eight locks for us, we cannot moor, we cannot stop. She’s actually shaking, I thought this was anger, she really was very flustered, which stressed me out because not only do I start believing that it’s MY fault eight locks of water have been wasted, but she’s  obliviously standing and blathering right in the middle of where I need to be to perform my mooring ritual, (get out of the way for goodness sake). In her defense, whatever was said on the phone call betwixt the before-tunnel and after-tunnel lockies, it’s very rare that a boat stops cruising before ten in the morning, so whatever she heard, wasn’t what was meant. The woman got on the phone to someone who speaks english, (you gotta know we were seriously thinking of casting off and going on just to appease this woman), she was so agitated, the guy at the end of the line said to Vee, “don’t worry, it’s not your fault, it’s all good, don’t worry”. Thank goodness, and ya know what, twenty minutes after this event, a boat cleared the tunnel and carried on straight into the lock, no waste, no stress, easy like a Sunday morning. Whatever.
So that was the shortest day of cruising ever, the kids were ecstatic, Squeaky celebrated by immediately running into someone’s garden, Lara rolled in the beach like sandy gravel on the bank, and Heidi opened an eye, before closing it again, it’s too early, she says. We went for a cycle ride to the shop three klicks away, croissants and a few other things, then chilled for the day. Vanessa discovered later that the locked up bournes, weren’t locked at all, so on went the power and the washing machine went into overdrive. I now have lovely clean ropes that feel and smell wonderful, yay!
A big drawback here is the rubbish bins, overloaded and positively stinking. Behind us is the hotel barge, Rendez-Vous, no guests and we thought, being as this place is nowhere, they’d set off to meet the next lot. New guests arrived late afternoon, the courtesy coach dropped them right at the walkway, then parked in front of the bins, the sight was gone, but not the smell. I think they may be reconsidering Escommes as a pick up point?¿!

Hotel barge Rendez-Vous

When Heidi finally decided to honour us with her presence, she found the area overrun with lizards, the afternoon’s entertainment was set, and the lizards far too fast. Though at one scary moment (for us), a lizard ran full pelt toward the quay and over the side with Heidi nipping at its tail, she stopped, phew!
We’ve noticed that the Bourgogne is remarkably empty, for mid August there are very few boats, on Thursday we didn’t see a single one, only two boats on Friday, being new to this we don’t know what to expect, but it’s not this. A dutch family on a cycling holiday stopped nearby and we got talking to them, they also remarked how quiet it is. Maybe it’s just this stretch of water, although the Bourgogne is very popular.
It turns out the power wasn’t free, a man came around and took three whole €uros from us, in over three months cruising that’s the first money we’ve paid to stay somewhere, cool huh.

1186.8 engine hours.

173.4 trip hours.

1.1 hours today.

0 locks 5 km.

Total 311 locks 598 km.

pk 160 Escommes on the Canal de Bourgogne.
20 August
There are two hotel barges here, one was booked into the lock for nine and the Rendez-Vous for nine thirty, because of this, (and because we’re only travelling three klicks and eight locks) we booked in for after lunch. The nine o’clock cancelled, so the lock keeper came over to us, all sprightly, and said there’s been a change of plan and now we’re going after the Rendez-Vous, erm, “no we’re not”, “oh, don’t you want to go?” “yes of course we do, but after lunch”. Very strange, we don’t fit into a lock with a hotel barge, so it’s not like, well it’s not like anything, I have no clue what this kid was thinking?¿!

Châteauneuf.

Later I think I worked it out, because the two hotel barges were leaving so close together, the VNF brought an extra few lockies to take them through in relay, two teams leapfrogging each other making the passage quicker, because one cancelled, they thought they could push us through in their place, we kind’ve regretted not taking them up. The quota of brain cells obviously got used up in the morning, we got left with one guy who was trying his best but his partner was on a serious Monday go slow. We had eight locks, with one going ahead to prep the next lock, the passage would/could have been easier. I’d have got off the boat and helped, (and even if for instance we’d have been a boat that didn’t help out, it would still make sense for one to go ahead and prep the lock while the man operating the current lock walked all the way round to the other side to open the second gate), but no, these guys were fused at the hip and so with only four hundred metres between locks, even at our speed we arrived before them then had to wait for them to fill up the lock and let us in. The guy on the go slow? I’ve seen some waif like girls push those gates open faster than this kid with all his puffing and panting. So, this is the last time I wax lyrical on the ineptitude of the “summer job ” lock keepers, it’s now boring and pointless.

Hotel barge Reine Pedauque

Eventually, we arrived at Vandenesse, the Reine Pedauque (hotel barge) is here all brightly painted and spiffy, she was sitting in the bassin in St-Jean all last winter (looking sorry for herself) having some internal work/refit done, before setting off in March/April for a paint job some where further up the Bourgogne, she’s not a particularly beautiful boat, but I love the colouring, black and red always look stunning together, throw in some yellow and even the ugliest boat will look special. We’re here to take a wander up the hill to see the château de Châteauneuf, don’t know if it is anything to do with Châteauneuf de Pape wine, I guess we’ll find out, though after four “artisan” beers setting us back €18.50 yesterday, and already knowing this particular wine is hugely expensive, if it is, any bottles will have to stay here. 
The Rendez-Vous is here too, it looks like we’re going to be playing leap frog with them for a bit. We got talking to the couple running her, they have six guests on board at the moment, 31,000 US dollars for the week! Jolly me!
1188.7 engine hours.

175.2 trip hours.

1.9 hours today.

8 locks 3 km.

Total 319 locks 601 km.

pk 163 Vandanesse-en-Auxois on the Canal de Bourgogne.
21 August

Day off. Sightseeing, yay! I still don’t know if this Châteauneuf is anything to do with the wine, probably not or I think there’d be a lot said about it. The château was wonderful, not in any architectural way, but ’twas well restored, it was sold off for demolition at one point in its history, but the new owners, instead of taking it apart brick by brick put it back together.
We cycled as far as we could up the hill to the village, and then walked the rest of the way. I have not been very good maintaining my bike, so my brakes are quite useless, but that’s alright says I, it’s all down hill, I’ll be fine. Oh?¿! If I was under ten years old it wouldn’t have been a problem, I’d have been down that hill in less than a minute, laughing all the way. At fifty, after a few metres of rapidly accelerating speed one foot went down on the ground and I chickened out. I redeemed myself a little, after walking most of the way down, I got back on and freewheeled the rest of the hill, taking in a corner. At what moment in our lives do we stop doing crazy stuff? I never ever thought I was gonna have an accident on my bike as a kid, or is it that now after cruising, anything over six klicks is scary. Pah!

Do you want to know that as we walked up the hill we had a full view of the goings on on the canal, and two cruisers went through the first lock, then the lockies went ahead to prep the second lock for the cruisers while the Rendez-Vous was left stranded waiting for someone to take them through the first lock? When really, being a hotel barge it should’ve gone first, no? Okay.