In which Spike and Vee meet the Pink People and then Beavis and Butthead. Heidi goes for a walk. They paved paradise. And all those Fishermen with their hands held far apart on the Bourgogne are vindicated.
Bye bye Auxerre, thanks for everything! And off we go, I don’t mind admitting I was a bit nervous about setting off again, I’d been sitting on my arse for the last two weeks, (playing guitar, re-hydrating) and I was concerned that I might be a little rusty. After Auxerre the next nine locks are of the ninety metre huge-bathtub-and-us-the-toy variety until we turn off onto the Canal de Bourgogne. We both thought a short first day would be a good plan. Because most of this stretch is now the river Yonne, it’s difficult to moor just anywhere like you would on a canal because of shallow waters, in the mapbook we have, (which I’ve already said is horribly out of date, and it is, it was printed in 2003, ouch), there are “blue anchors”, a safe place to moor. The one we’d chosen was a mere ten klicks away, we’d forgotten it is now the high season, this quay was rammed out, in one place three boats parked side by side. The next “blue anchor” didn’t exist, and judging by the trees growing around the site hasn’t existed since the combustion engine took over from horses and ropes. The next was, oh, there wasn’t, so we headed off to the Bourgogne, a long day but doable and thanks to a long stretch betwixt locks we only stopped for a quarter hour at lunchtime. So here we are, on the Canal de Bourgogne, the “home stretch” ha ha, I think it’s two hundred seventy klicks to St-Jean de Losne and another hundred eighty locks. (I say “I think” because every time I looked ahead in the mapbook I started to get a little over-whelmed, particularly when I see this page, that’s forty locks in
sixteen klicks, we’re aiming for ten Klicks a day, but I thinks we’ll be on this page for three or four daze), so I don’t look ahead anymore, it’s better that way.
A couple of weird things happened in the way to the Bourgogne. I think we saw a sunken vessel, it was very deep in the water, but from what I could see into the cargo it was empty so, dunno what happened there. When we got into the next lock about half a klick away there was another huge barge that we presume couldn’t get passed the “sunken” one, He must’ve been going up n down in the lock all day, it was the only place deep enough for him to lay up that wasn’t in the central channel. Oh, and between these two was another barge roped to a dredger that was pouring water into the cargo hold of the barge?¿! We started cruising with a hire boat for a bit after this next lock, as usual they went on ahead and we caught up at the next lock, but then, we come around a corner to find the next lock closed and them going down, we weren’t far behind maybe five hundred metres. Kind of annoying but what can you do, these huge locks take a while to go through a complete operation, so we moored and waited. After we got inside and had started to go down, three boats came around the corner, so either none of the the other lockies talk to this guy to let him know what’s coming, or, as Vanessa said, he just likes pressing buttons, (these locks are so huge they’re all hydraulic), either way, that’s a lot of water and a kit of time.
After this little episode, we’d had enough of rivers and their sparse mooring spots and were gagging to get onto the Bourgogne, the first lock is deep at five metres, and now we’re on the Bourgogne we’re starting to climb again, but as we came up the lockie was all smiles, in t-shirt and cap and welcoming us to the Canal de Bourgogne. There was another VNF guy there with a very new pair of garden shears who offered to cut my hair for free, um, non merci! The first thing we noticed was the clarity of the water, it was crystal clear to the bottom, I knew the fish were huge but I didn’t expect them to be *that* big. I don’t know how this could be as it clouds up again after Brienon-sur-Armançon, the river Armançon must have a lot do with it, ‘twould have been lovely to have that last longer, it was fascinating to see the fish and the weeds, it was like cruising on an aquarium.
1138.5 engine hours.
125.1 trip hours.
8.0 hours today.
12 locks 30 km.
Total 200 locks 444 km.
pk 6 Esnon on the Canal de Bourgogne.
Breakfast was strange, we saw a boulangerie van park up near to our mooring, off I go, one baguette and two croissants, huge things, except they were bread rolls disguised as croissants, gutted.
We had a few problems today, it was gusty windy and Adventurer seemed to be misbehaving, also there was a headwind which didn’t feel that strong but slowed us down to four km/h. The thing is the Bourgogne is quite weedy and we both started to get worried that the prop and the rudder were clogged up, even though I know that the engine would (surely) sound a bit different. Hey ho, all is good, the wind changed and we started travelling at our normal speed.
Now, this isn’t going to turn into an us vs. them speed thang, I’m just writing here what happened, even though I don’t really know?¿! As we went through Brienon-sur-Armançon a boat pulled out of the town mooring and within a few hundred metres was looking to overtake us, we waved them by and as they passed they asked if we were going through the next lock, yes we say as they throttle up and leave us behind. The next lock was only a klick away, so really their wait was negligible. Once we arrive and are roped up, the lock keeper asks us if we are continuing to the next lock, (about five klicks away), yes we are says I, to which, astonishingly he says can you go a bit faster then, to which I reply, no we jolly can’t, and then apologise immediately for that escaped but surprised expletive. As we’re leaving the lock, I again apologised, I said to him that we go at our own pace, six km/h and if we are too slow for the other boat that he should phone ahead and let the next lockie know to put them through, I’d clocked another boat behind us that would probably have caught us up by then and we’ll go through the next lock with them, no biggie. The canal has a long three and a half kilometre straight after this lock, and we watched as this boat, (“the pink people”, they’re going to a festival in St-Florentin and they were all wearing pink shirts and the boat was dressed in bunting), got smaller and smaller as they powered along much faster than us. At one point Vee wondered aloud if the next lockie would hold them, I said I hope not, cause they’d be livid, they had already disappeared from view around a corner and were about two klicks in front, with another klick and a half to the lock. We weren’t going to make the next lock by lunch but wondered if we could moor in the shadey lock, but as we arrived the pink people were having *their* lunch in the lock. I have no idea what happened, did the lockie hold them up and then disappeared for his lunch, I have no idea, but they must’ve been waiting for at least twenty five minutes before lunch even started?¿! They weren’t shouting and screaming at us when, after lunch we entered the lock so that’ll be one of life’s mysteries.
We were still cruising with them for two more locks, very obviously they weren’t going so fast, easily four km/h slower. The last lock was being run by Mr. New Garden Shears from yesterday, we had a laugh together, he told us about the festival and then I happened to look forward and all six “pink people” were looking back at me with confused expressions?¿! Weird people, weird day.
During the course of the day, Heidi decided that she would have a look at the catflap, and with a bit of carefully positioned scratching, found it easy to unlock and took herself outside while we were running. Luckily, Vee happened to look over her shoulder and saw Heidi slip through the flap and warned me and put the engine in neutral. I think Heidi was wary as she’s never seen the water flow by so quickly (ha ha), first hand before and so was easy to pick up and put through the door again. I’m going to be turning the catflap around so the locks are on the outside though, clever girl!
1143.9 engine hours.
130.5 trip hours.
5.4 hours today.
6 locks 16 km.
Total 206 locks 460 km.
pk 22 Germaigny on the Canal de Bourgogne.
We weren’t sure yesterday if we’d be cycling back to St-Florentin to check out the festival. We were told by a lock keeper that our choice of mooring for the night was “paradise”, well mate it looks like they paved it, no parking lot though, phew! Picky yes, but after the lush greenery of Auxerre, concrete just doesn’t cut it, so we decided to stay for just the one night in this kid’s idea of paradise. I cycled back to St-Florentin for some beer and popped by the last lock to arrange the next lock for the morning.
We arrived at the next lock at nine, and no one’s there, hey ho. When they did arrive, about quarter past, Vanessa instantly christened them Beavis and Butthead, which was a bit mean being as they were with us for four locks and were out and out professionals compared the two herberts that escorted us through the final two locks of the day.
It’s the high season, a Saturday, it’s now four o’clock, and we haven’t seen any other boats today?¿! The port de plaisance at St-Florentin was rammed though, I think the pink people had the last mooring, maybe everyone is there for the weekend? Another boat did arrive later, moored up and asked us what is there to do in Flogny, according to our maps and apps there was the highlight of a pizza restaurant, but on my recon into the village earlier found the restaurant on permanent holiday and the village itself to be almost a ghost town, I answered “nothing” and after their walk through the village said “you’re not wrong”. I know it’s a Saturday, and there is a particularly hot heatwave at the moment, but I can’t help but feel rural France is fading?¿!
1146.6 engine hours.
133.1 trip hours.
2.6 hours today.
6 locks 9 km.
Total 212 locks 469 km.
pk 31 Flogny-la-Chapelle on the Canal de Bourgogne.
With nigh on four klicks before the next lock booked for nine, we cast off and started cruising at quarter past eight this morning. And that’s it, no happenings, boring really. I could tell you how Vanessa held Adventurer steady in the middle of a weed infested bassin, despite a slight breeze, but it would go to her head, so I won’t
With the kids out for the count from the heat of the day, and the you-will-sleep-all-day exercise they had this morning, we sloped off to find a cold beer and do a spot of sightseeing. La Fosse Dionne is fascinating, and good crikey that water is cold, actually toe numbingly cold. There are a few caveaus here, and being as we’re making really good time, (after my little omg-omg-how-long-is-this-taking stress out), we’re going to have a free day here, see some sights and hopefully get some Pinot Noir for the winter, and some plonk for the now.
1150.1 engine hours.
136.6 trip hours.
3.5 hours today.
5 locks 14 km.
Total 217 locks 483 km.
pk 45 Tonnerre on the Canal de Bourgogne.
58.28 metres ascended (I’ve added this cause it’s fascinating, we’re going to “climb” four hundred metres to the summit)