We decided we would leave Amiens on Weds 13th after a very pleasant 5 day stay. So when a group of boats arrived the day before and the potoon was full we offered for one to ‘raft up’ beside us. This was fine except that there were 4 boats travelling together and all were backwards and forwards to each others’ boats. OK fair enough! BUT when the man walked around our boat at about 4.30am I was not amused! Seems he was taking the dog for a pee! Their mates then came visiting before 8am. I asked if it had been him at 4.30am – ‘no it was 5am!!! and I was quiet’ – even his wife said he is rather flat footed! Not amused!
So we set off to go to Picquigny – 15kms and 3 locks.
The second lock at Montières was interesting. For a start it was after 11am, boiling hot and there was no waiting pontoon. We had to wait over an hour just hanging onto a couple of saplings on the bank. This lock is very slow to fill and a narrow boat had entered and then had to reverse out because of the low bridge.
Let me explain. There are locks – large ones, small ones, deep ones, shallow ones – and then there are double locks – and even triple locks some places. We have encountered double locks on the canal du Nivernais and they are just what they say on the tin. One lock chamber leading straight into the next lock chamber so that you cover the full depth in two manouevers. On the river Yonne there are locks with sloping sides, most of which have floating pontoons to which you tie up and then these take you up or down without a problem. A few have no platform and boats have to ‘hover’ in the centre away from the sloping sides. Not so easy for some.
Most of the locks on the Canal du Somme are straightforward single chamber locks. Drive in, tie up, go up or down, untie and then drive out again. Easy. At some point the canal was deepened to accommodate commercial traffic and double locks were introduced. These double locks have two chambers but one has sloping sides with nothing to tie up to. Some, like Montières, only have one set of gates so basically its one big lock but half has sloping sides and boats have to be in the straight sided chamber. This is what caused the problem and why the boat had to reverse out before the lock keeper could operate the lock. Meanwhile we fried! a couple of photos might help…..
And of course there is one double lock on the Somme that is operated as two locks – one with sloping sides, nowhere to tie up and, in our view is a nightmare!
We reached Picquigny in late afternoon and both managed to squeeze onto the end of the bank.