Once the fog had finally cleared and all the commercial traffic had dispersed we left our little layby, headed up through the lock and did a sharp righthand turn into the mooring channel at Valenciennes. We had decided we would moor up on the visitors’ pontoon (well we actually tied up to the blackwater tank emptying pontoon!) and wait for the river flow to slow right down. As soon as we saw things go virtually still we phoned the Capitainerie and headed up to our mooring.
What a good idea this was. A different, longer boat is now moored before us, making the turn into our mooring even tighter, but Adrian was able to gently turn Piedaleau in without issue. When the flow is fast, as we have previously experienced, the stern gets pushed round towards the boat on the other side and, since we don’t have a stern thruster, there is little we can do. We are now sandwiched between two boats even longer than us.
Piedaleau went in beautifully. Help was at hand to take the ropes and we were very pleased with our entry! The boat next door’s parrot (!) squawked us in!!!!
So we now had a week at our base to sort all the things we needed to do before leaving Piedaleau safely until next spring.
First off was the gas leak. Adrian got a gas detector but it wasn’t that much help in locating exactly where the leak was coming from. We decided to replace the gas bottle adaptors and the flexible pipes. The gas detector came in handy then to ensure all joints were tight and there were no further leaks. Yippee!
We have been discussing painting the upper, cream paint but find it somewhat daunting both in terms of doing it ourselves or paying for it to be done. We decided to try out the special undercoat which we had bought from Port Services in Ghent a couple of years ago. We did a couple of trial areas which we will look at when we return in 2022. If it looks good we may well continue ourselves.
Servicing and winterisation also took some time.
But Piedaleau is now properly tucked up for the winter. The French boaters beside us (parrot) and Benoit (from end of pontoon) both said they would keep a weather eye on Piedaleau and contact either Pascaline or us directly if they have any concerns. How nice is that!
After all our hard work we treated oursdelves to a meal at our favourite Greek restaurant along the canal. We returned home on Sunday 17th October.
Nearly 6 weeks on board, nearly 3 weeks cruising! Not as much as we would have liked but certainly a lot more than many other boaters have managed this year because of Covid.
Hopefully we will do better in 2022 but we will have to negotiate the regulations due to Brexit.