April 20 -23
So we set orf from St Jean on Sunday – stopped overnight at Bretenniere. The eclusiere had asked ask to lock through with another boat the next day – but the Australian crew had other ideas. They didn’t want to ‘play’ with us! Adrian biked down to tell the eclusiere and didn’t even get a thank you from the Aussies!
The whole of this canal is ‘manned’ by eclusiers. So you have to be organised and book your eclusiers each day. They each have a stretch of canal which they work on and then hand you over to the next. It works fine, especially at present as there are few boats. Meet some characters.
So we set off a little later the next day and were paired up with some New Zealanders. Unfortunately they were a bit pressed for time as they had engine problems and needed to get parts, which put a little pressure on Captain Adrian who was desperately trying to get to grips with Piedaleau. At times she has very definite ‘ideas’ of her own! However we all managed to get to Dijon safely and moored up across from the port. The port has changed dramatically since I was there 5 years ago. There is no longer a Capitainerie and so the port appears to be full of ‘freeloaders’. The Kiwis were in need of water but another Aussie boat refused them access. Two ‘orrid ‘ozzies in two days!
Anyway we stayed there and I was invited on board with the Kiwis for a glass of wine while awaiting Adrian’s return from fetching the car. This year we are leap frogging it along with us – which means that Adrian, after a hard day at the helm, has to jump on his bike to go and bring up to us. Luckily there are pretty good towpaths along this stretch, so far.
Anyway, as me dear old Dad would say, I ‘got involved’………. and then so did Adrian when he got back ….. and before we knew it was time to retire a little disgracefully. Martin, David and Sue on Akaroa were great fun. The next morning I was relieved to hear it wasn’t just moi with the hangover!
We then parted company so that they could push on and so that we didn’t feel pressed. We had a quite a long day but got up to Pont de Pany where we moored ‘au sauvage’ for the night. And Adrian went to collect the car! Fabulous stars; owls hooting at night and cuckoos calling in the early morning.
Wednesday saw us off by 10am again. Adrian getting better at the helm and me getting better at rope throwing, but more and more wary of ever taking the helm!
We’ve seen some interesting things at the locks – a ragondin (like a coypu) in one lock, swimming around trying to get out! Some gorgeous horses right beside another, and , of course, chickens. And then on Thurs we had a stowaway! The eclusier told us we had a ‘couleuvre’ on the back rubbing straike – a grass snake! But it had jumped ship by the time Adrian went to eject it, so I don’t have photographic evidence.
But hardly any boats – some hotel barges going up and down this stretch. And indeed I had noted as much in 2010.
Then suddenly I recognised the Sheerline shape appraoching – Ilona – and called out ‘my other boat’s a Sheerline!’ Which Adrian thought a little de trop!
Strange to see the notations that Frankie and I made in the map book in 2010 and the differences now. There really are not many mooring places along this stretch and we haven’t seen any with water or electricity. But luckily that is not an issue for us so far. Reached Vandenesse on Thursday evening where we managed to get plugged in so I am doing the washing as I speak. Don’t have to wait for lavaries but not brave enough to try putting the machine on while cruising yet.
And we met up with the Kiwis again, so another few bottles were emptied, but I was a little more careful. Most enjoyable company. I have an address for B & B in NZ if anyone is planning a trip there…….
The weather these last few days has been absolutely glorious – shorts and tee-shirt weather. It will break soon but we hope to reach the summit at Pouilly on Saturday. Adrian is not looking forward to the 3.3kms tunnel – we will have to take down the mast, the bimini & the BBQ. But tomorrow, Friday, we will have a day off and go up to visit Chateauneuf-en-Auxois which is a beautiful hilltop village with 12th-15th century chateau.