The journey home

Currently traveling
It’s going to take a while but we are now heading slowly north and back to beautiful Guernsey
Currently traveling
  • Day475

    Balesmes tunnel and Langres

    July 11 in France ⋅ ☀️ 19 °C

    While moored at Piépape we went for a little ride looking first for the bakery in Piépape, then the cafe in Villegusien Le Lac both closed so we decided to have a look at the Villegusien reservoir that helps feed the canal it covers 200 hectares and there seemed to be a beach so we headed off in search of sustenance. Hurray a cafe after beer and ice cream we headed back and decided to move on 2more locks so less to do tomorrow. A VNF representative asked where we were going today and tomorrow so we explained.
    It was a hot night, with a little buzzing visitor that left me with 6 yes 6 bites, bloody mosquitoes. Up early and off we set at 8:45 we reach first lock and lights are out ummm OK wait till 9 still no lights 9:15 still nothing. I phone up, ‘oh yes sorry I sort and man coming for lock’ we eventually set off again at 9:30. But after that hiccup we enter a chain of 8 locks of 5m each to reach the summit, and their all ready and waiting, easy, leash. With only 2 to go we see a Peniche moored on the bank and the owner tells us he crashed yesterday. We don’t see any damage until we are past and see the rudder which is bent up 90 degs he must have caught it on the sill while descending. The final up lock took a while as the lock keeper, who is also in charge of the summit tunnel, was removing lots of pond weed with a digger before he would open the gates. We confirmed our destination as Langres where we would stay a few days.
    The summit or dividing pound is 10km long with 5km of tunnel and 2km of lead-in either end. It went surprisingly well especially as after 3km the next lot of automatic lights didn’t come on, the motion sensor must be broken, so we were working by torchlight and emergency exit illumination only. We were very grateful to see the light at the end of the tunnel and know it couldn’t be the train coming towards us. So Take Five has now been through a tunnel!
    After that our first down lock ‘avalant’ wasn’t ready and needed to be filled, then so did the second fortunately we were only doing two and arrived in Langres. After a rest we rode up to the walled town for a look round but I will save that for another day.
    Keep safe.
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  • Day474

    St Sienne to Chusey then Piepape

    July 10 in France ⋅ ☀️ 22 °C

    We spent a lovely quiet night on our individual mooring then after a ride into Fontaine-Francaise to see the 18th century chateau and its ornamental pond (more like a large lake) we headed on, relatively smooth sailing through all the locks just 8, only downer was bursting one of the fenders on an uncovered bolt on the exit gates of one of the locks as it got pulled off, snapping the eye. The bolt ends are usually covered with dome nuts but not this one and with only 70cm spare, 35 each side and no freeboard to use as the locks are filled to within 8inches of the top it’s a miracle we haven’t actually run aground! We saw lots of kingfishers, they are incredible, the bright flash of blue catches your eye and then you try to track them to their next branch. There are also lots and lots of damsel flies, dragon flies, frogs 🐸, and other aquatic insects. Our stop last night was at Chusey on a large concrete quay with picnic tables and bizarrely electricity. We met up with an English couple who have been traveling on their 81year old wooden boat for 20years and they said the Arsenal marina in Paris is open but in high season costs £150-200 a night and you need to book ahead umm we will have a think about that sounds ridiculous but we might have to. In Chusey we rode to see the viaduct a Badin and realised it’s actually an aqueduct and we would be motoring across it, we also tried to find the fort listed in our canal guide, but it was nowhere to be found and we have no internet so couldn’t google it. This morning we set off just before 9, the temperature is a lot more bearable early on. Yesterday it was still 30degs at 10.00 when we went to bed. Our first 5locks formed a chain and each opened as we arrived so we completed five locks by 10:30, we then had only another either 3 or 6 to go depending on where we stopped, the first option was very open and it was only 11:15 so we carried on to the halte at Piépape on a beautiful tree lined stretch of canal so we should be shaded early. Unfortunately the large orange bourbon the bow was the casualty this time again pierced by an uncovered bolt end !!
    Tomorrow we will start early and head to the summit and the 5km tunnel across to the Marne side, so 8 more up locks and then 2down to reach Langres at pk149. The Canal entre Champagne et Bourgogne is 224km long and these are marked as pk on our canal and river guides with 43 locks from Saône to summit and 71 from Marne to the summit, down locks are supposedly easier we will let you know.
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  • Day472

    Pontailler sur Saone & Canal

    July 8 in France ⋅ ☀️ 24 °C

    We decided on a short trip yesterday so we could do a full day on the canal today, in hind sight not a great decision. There was a bit of breeze which was lovely but the river was very busy with lots of hire boats and a few liveaboards we had to wait to enter our penultimate Saone lock while two other boats went up, the lock was only 40x7 ish so no room for more boats. After we and our companion hire boat, entered to ascend there were four other boats waiting to go up and one to come down busy busy. As we carried on up we started to worry that the mooring place we were headed for would be too busy but on arrival it was fine though a bit shallow, good practice for the canal. We stopped in Pontailler sur Saone on a stepped quay by the Marie. We walked through town and up to the plateau behind it (Mount Ardoux) and were amazed just how flat it looked in all directions. It can’t be that flat as the canal has 43locks to the summit each at least 3m deep and the last five are 5m each. In town we also saw the most decorative tiled roof we have seen to date, it was beautiful.
    Today we set off just after 9 no point going earlier as we were close to our final Saone lock and first canal lock, the canal locks only operate 9-6 for pleasure boats. The river was stunning so flat and scenery so green that the reflections were incredible. As we passed through our final river lock I lowered the Bimini, the guaranteed air draft on the canal is only 3.5, water draft 1.8 we expect to forge a few channels as we go. Our first canal lock 38x5 argh hadn’t realised they were so thin damn best get the kayaks aboard before the next one as they make bloody expensive fenders. The second lock let us in OK and the water level rose but the gates wouldn’t open to let us out, bugger. OK use the lock ‘phone’ with dodgy French and broken English we establish that I have to take the remote control unit that the telephone operator has released for me, tell her the boat details and where we are going then she will open the gates. OK back on board with control but nothing happens, back to phone yes she will open gates but they are ‘kaput’ she will try again and send engineer. OK we use time to shift the kayaks on board, eventually the gates open with flashing lights and klaxons and off we go. We don’t use the control on the next lock but then it comes into its own, we press control at receptor and by the time we reach the lock it’s ready, open and waiting. This works well for maybe 7 locks then things slow down and we realise by the second time that there is a boat just ahead of us also going up meaning we have to wait for locks to empty before they open. We decide that if we don’t pass the boat on a halte before next Lock we will just stop earlier than planned so we don’t have to loiter out in the sun at each lock. Luckily the boat has stopped so onwards we go and the locks are ready and waiting, we are nearly at our halte, when disaster strikes we go into the lock but the gates won’t close, we try the ‘phone’ it’s broken we try ordinary phone they’re engaged, we resort to pulling the emergency alarm rod. Someone arrives after 30mins and sets us free, 2locks in rapid succession and we are here, a tiny pontoon but it’s home for the night. We now know that 16locks in temperatures in excess of 30degs without shade is about 8 too many!! I thought we were tight in the locks, our fenders are ravaged, most of the fender socks are in tatters, one has disappeared completely.
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  • Day470

    Auxonne

    July 6 in France ⋅ ☁️ 21 °C

    Well we have been shopping and the laundry is drying, John as lowered the radar so we are almost ready for our last day on the Saône. Auxonne has been a military base since before Napoleon who did some of his training here. There is still a base and they appear to occupy a lot of the original barrack buildings etc. there is also an old Chateau and a pretty Port full of what appear to be very expensive boats but the town itself is dying or perhaps it’s just because it’s Monday and lots of places don’t open on mondays. Meeting couple from boat next door for drinks later they have been on the canals for 5 years so should have some fun stories for us. Sadly the temperature is due to increase over the next week, Sod’s law just when we have to lower the Bimini for the bridges, we will steer from inside but as there are over 100 locks over a distance 225km we will be in and out and up and down like yo-yos.
    Internet is going to be iffy for a while but will be in touch when we can. Keep safe everyone.
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  • Day468

    St Jean de Losne and Dole

    July 4 in France ⋅ ☀️ 22 °C

    We arrived in St Jean yesterday and had a wander around, there is a huge marina and it’s where the canal de Bourgogne meets the Saone and on that first/last section of the Canal lots of boats, barges Peniches are rafted and there are chandlers, a dry dock, and lots of services mechanics, carpenters etc. when I looked on a map it made sense it’s kind of where 4different routes meet the Saône to flow into the Rhône and reach the south of France so has been a boating centre for centuries. We had thought about taking the boat to Dole but worked out that with 9locks over 19km it would be a lot faster to cycle. The cycle took longer on the way there due to a navigation error on my part but it was a beautiful town lovely buildings, great atmosphere, no one appeared in the least bit worried about Covid and a Saturday market where John was able to buy GF fougasse, Lemon tart and macaroons, delicious he informs me. The French schools are now officially on holiday and so are a lot of the French and other Europeans we have seen lots of hire boats and more liveaboards moving around. Tomorrow we plan to head to Auxonne to shop and do laundry before we enter the smaller waterways and the Canal entre Champagne and Bourgogne.Read more

  • Day465

    Chalon sur Saone and Seurre

    July 1 in France ⋅ ⛅ 30 °C

    Fortunately with our previous nights stop being moved closer we were able to moor up in the marina and make it to the morning market in front of St Pierre church. We did another of the self guided tours, this one was well marked unlike the one in Tournus that we kept loosing. For me the most memorable sights were the Doyenne tower and Mothe House. The Tower because it was sold and taken down in 1907 to go to Paris for auction, fortunately a wealthy American bought it and gave it back to the commune. The House because of how it looked stone arches on ground floor and wooden half timbered above. The cathedrals was also impressive as they all are, the Church is seriously loaded. We also experienced a little culture as we were able to visit a photography museum. Nicéphore-Niepce was born in Chalon and was the forerunner in inventing photography as we know it. We also found time for a little food shopping. The next morning we fueled up, and met some Brits who actually live in France they were relocating a hire boat. We stopped for lunch at Verdun sur Doubs so we could add another river to our list, we had thought about stopping but if we did that they wanted us to moor stern too and John wasn’t happy about having and dive platform acting as a fender, ( there was nothing at all to keep the bow out). We ended up at Seurre and met the Brits again, it was good to chat. We have seen lots of charolais cattle, herons, storks, egrets, swallows, and buzzards over the last few days and heard a lot of large fish flapping around. This was also the day we started to see more pleasure traffic on the river about 9 boats most private but two hire, one captain seemed to be playing dodgems with his hire boat.Read more

  • Day464

    Tournus

    June 30 in France ⋅ ☀️ 22 °C

    We enjoyed our stay at Macon and using the air con unit but must journey on, so up to Tournus for a look around. We would have liked to go up the Canal de Pont de Vaux but 1 it was too shallow and 2 we were too high. I suggested leaving the boat on the waiting pontoon just before the first lock and riding up but then no other boats could use pontoon. Tournus had more beautiful old buildings the most impressive size wise was the Abbey church of St Philibert with its crypt cloisters and various other buildings. FromTournus we headed through Ormes lock it wasn’t very high but was very turbulent. I’m glad Take Five is heavy and steel. We had hoped to overnight on the halte fluvial at Pont d’Ouroux but it’s silted up and too,shallow for us so a bit closer to Chalon and we anchored in an officially authorized anchorage stop much to the annoyance of some fishermen there. Boy do these guys take their fishing seriously, they’ve set up mini campsites like the Herm permanent pitches, main tent, pagoda, fire pit, toilet tent, solar shower and bins hanging from different trees and 5-6 rods on special supports, dinghies with fish finders and electric motors and all the other fishing gubbins nets spares etc.Read more

  • Day461

    More progress now

    June 27 in France ⋅ ⛅ 27 °C

    We decided we need to make better mileage so set off earlier than usual today. Our first stop was Trévoux to visit the weekly market, next was Villefranche-sur-Saône to see some of the historical buildings there before heading to Mortmerle-sur-Saône for the night. More random rain showers helped to keep the temperature a bit lower today Thank goodness. From Mortmerle to Macon marina, stopping for a coffee at Restaurant du Pont on the way up, a marina for a change so we can charge everything up and do some washing. Macon also has beautiful old buildings and has seen a lot of renovation work since 2007 making the town very attractive.Read more

  • Day460

    Onwards

    June 26 in France ⋅ ⛅ 27 °C

    We set off late as there was a thunderstorm and a lot of rain and headed off on our first day on the Saône river. We had a stop at Rochetaillée-sur-Saône on the pontoon just below the lock to visit the Malartre Museum and Chateau and see the cars, motorcycles and pushbike, a pretty impressive private collection. Then through the lock, we timed it well as a barge was coming down stream, it filled the full width of the lock. We decided to go for a free stop on the west bank so it would be shaded early we decided on Chavanay very peaceful.Read more

  • Day459

    Lyon

    June 25 in France ⋅ ☀️ 32 °C

    Lyon was a lot nicer than I expected, I am not a city person, and as it’s the second largest city in France I was not expecting great things. The first surprise was the marina, our info is a bit out of date and the marina must have had some teething problems but it was lovely right in the middle of the new developments on the piece of land between the Rhône and Saône, it felt safe but was in the heart of things. The redevelopment of the confluence land had resulted in some weird buildings the confluence museum reminded us of the Guggenheim in, I think it was Bilbao all glass and metal at weird angles. There was a supermarket and shopping mall next door to the marina with a Decathlon store. We were able to use a cycle path to access the old town then lock up the bikes and wander around taking in the sights and also just the old streets, inner courtyards and spiral stone staircases as we tried to walk only in the shade, temperature reached 35degs. From the old town we crossed back over the Saône to see the opera house and Hôtel de ville then down the bank of the Rhône to Hôtel Dieu previously a hospital and abbey now up-market shops and restaurants in an incredible setting. The day after we continued our trip up the river seeing the sights from a different perspective.Read more