Up, up up….. and thro’!

We had a pleasant stopover in Vandenesse. Even used the car to visit Chateauneuf for an afternoon on Friday. I visited this hilltop, fortified village in 2010 with Frankie and Greg. A beautiful spot with an interesting little chateau with rooms in both mediaeval and 18th century periods. The chapel has a replica of the tomb of Phillippe Pot (owned chateau in 16th century) with ‘pleureurs’ (weepers, mourners) surrounding him. The original is now in the Louvre.

But the spectre of the Pouilly tunnel loomed large – and low and narrow – especially after our NZ mates rang to say they had gone through pretty quickly, just had a problem with the captain wearing the wrong glasses when entering the tunnel ie going from light +++ to dark+++ in sunglasses! Especially as most of the roof lighting in the tunnel is out at present. They expressed concern for us and how we would manage…….

So Adrian took as exact measurements of the height and width of the boat and transcribed this onto the VNF diagram of the tunnel dimensions in the map book. Not good, not good at all – very very little leeway.

Our problem is the fixed side rails on the upper deck, which are widely placed. The arched roof of the tunnel means that we would have to maintain a very central line, with little room for sideways veering. And we have discovered that Piedaleau has a strong predilection to veering, and usually at the most inappropriate moment.

So we took a drive up to the lock office beside the tunnel entrance and talked to a very nice young man. We were immensely relieved to learn that the current water level was below that represented in the map book. This gave us about an extra 30 cms! This is definitely a time when centimeters matter!

So we went back to the boat, took everything down that we possibly could and wound rope around the rails to provide some protection from scraping the walls.

Saturday morning arrived, complete with rain – which we didn’t need in case it caused the water level to rise again.

We set off at 9am and worked up the flight of 9 locks in record time – 2 eclusiers throughout to speed things up – and were then told to go straight into the tunnel! At the last lock they checked us in, gave us a document for our passage, a radio in case of emergency and checked we had lights and were wearing life jackets. No more time to dilly or dally, we were orf!

So, in we went …… tentatively! Just as well we had been warned about the lights being out. I was standing at the side of the wheelhouse pointing an extra light at the centre of the roof to help Adrian steer through.

Then the lights came on and I was able to go up top and watch both sides to try and ‘advise’ about veering off course.

Apparently there are cameras in the tunnel so that they can watch the progress of boats.

So, no doubt there will be some stories told tonight of a mad Englishwoman, standing on top of her boat, brandishing a broom, at times seeming to sweep the roof ( I have some bits of stalactites from the roof to prove it!) and yelling like a banshee!! Need I say more?

Anyway it took us about 2 hours in total from the last lock to arriving at Pouilly, a distance of about 4 kms! I did it in about an hour in Misty Morning in 2010.

Adrian was all but a quivering wreck and I was hoarse and knackered!

I would like to be able to say that Piedaleau was unscathed but, unfortunately, she has sustained some damage to those rails – look a bit on the piss now! But we made it! Maybe we need collapsible rails?

But I don’t fancy doing that again ………. ever!

We stayed one night in Pouilly en Auxois – the only boat in the large basin. We shopped and treated ourselves to dinner at a restaurant to recover from the stress of the tunnel!

The passenger day boat that I remember from 5 years ago was still there but it didn’t disturb us at all. No passengers this year calling to me that my washing would dry well in the wind.

Up the Burgundy

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.

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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.

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Getting going…..

Sunday 19th April

Firstly I must apologise to you all for taking so long to blog again …… not all ‘bone crippling idleness’, only partly so, but also because we have been very busy preparing Piedaleau for the off and because internet access is very variable!

Enough excuses, I hear you cry!

We enjoyed Easter at home with assembled children – egg hunt in the meadow and egg and spoon races!

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We’ve decided next year to plan a bigger event – weather permitting of course!


So we finally set orf for France last Tuesday (14th) and promptly managed to miss the ferry by a gnat’s whisker! Air was a little blue to say the least!

Anyway we arrived quite late but still managed to empty one very full car ….. been trying to rationalize and store everything ever since. Quarts and pint pots come to mind………

The weather has been variable : from brilliant sunshine to wet, cold and windy. Still we enjoyed seeing the wild flowers on the bank beside the mooring and hearing lots of birdsong – especially the cuckoo – not so keen on the frogs!

We have, of course spent some time at Cascarot, dining in style with Elizabeth and David. Even had a couple of take out samples today as we started our long journey to Migennes and the boat reparations.

David has been busy redoing and improving the woodwork on the top of the boat. It looks sooo much better. Unfortunately we are finding more and more issues that need to be addressed because of cheapo & crappy workmanship in the build. ‘Larry the Lamb’ (whom we bought it from), has been renamed ‘Shuffle bum’, or ‘bullshitter anonymous’ depending on how kind we are feeling!

The latest Larry bullshit has resulted in us being ‘evicted’ from the mooring at Blanquarts at St Jean de Losne! He told us that Blanquarts had agreed we could keep the mooring. Blanquarts said they told him we could only stay til the season started and had allocated it to someone else from end April when they understood we would leave. They knew we have to go to Migennes and took that for our leave date! We weren’t really sure if we wanted to pay to retain the mooring or not – decision made for us! So, we are homeless! or should I say portless? Water gypsies / continuous cruisers!

We are therefore looking for a nice place that we can spend the winter. Would love to be in Paris but they have a waiting list so we are looking down towards Macon on the Saone. We’ll see!

We had intended leaving yesterday but, as often happens, things got in the way …… and then the wind got up ……. so we went to Cascarot for dinner again!

Finally set off at this morning – covered about 18kms and 12 locks. Piedaleau handles totally differently to Misty Morning. Still, practice makes perfect and all that. We’ve decided that Adrian will do the driving for now so that he can get the drop of it. Then, in time, he can teach moi! Bit worried about that but hey ho!

We have to go the full length of the Canal du Bourgogne – all 242 kms and 189 locks! And we are reliant on eclusiers the whole way, so have to ‘book’ our trip each evening for the following day.

The weather has been superb today, became very sunny and warm so that we were to eat our dinner on the deck for the first time. The view down the canal through the back window is pretty special!

Not all about boats

I want to share 2 non-boaty type things with you all

Many of you will know that 8th March is International Women’s Day, originally called International Working Women’s Day.

I usually attend a’Women’s Weekend’ with a group of amazing, inspirational and fun women. We meet up in a different venue each year and enjoy talking, walking and eating and drinking – and there’s usually some dancing – together! I just love it !

But this year I couldn’t be there because we had to go to France to pack up Misty Morning. So, when Elizabeth invited us to dinner at Cascarot on Saturday 7th March, as she had some German guests for the weekend, I took the opportunity for us 3 (a German, an Aussie and moi!) women to raise a glass together in celebration of International Women’s Day!


And secondly Lisa took Adrian and I to see Lionel Richie at the Arena in Nottingham on Tuesday for our Christmas pressie!

What a blast!! I saw him several years ago in Birmingham with Trish and Tom and was a little fearful in case he had aged as much as me! Needn’t have worried it was truly amazing! Lionel was on stage for over an hour and a half and blasted out all my favourites – Dancing on the Ceiling, All Night Long, Ballerina Girl, Stuck on You, Say You Say Me, You are My Destiny…….

The Arena was packed, everyone dancing (especially Lisa and me!) and singing along. Brilliant!!

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Getting to grips…..

4th March

Well Adrian and I have been on Piedaleau for a week now and we’re beginning to feel more at home.

We have lots of things to do but we ain’t rushing!

We have invested in 2 main items …….. a TV and a new mattress for our bed! Just bought the latter yesterday and were both really pleased with our night’s sleep. Never fear the mattress on the guest bed is fine – we used that until we managed to buy our new one! We have the delights of a trip to the tip tomorrow to off load the unwanted one. We have actually jettisoned most of what the previous owners left on board – so much for their claims of ‘just bring your clothes and go off cruising’! most was absolute tat!!

We have now christened her well and truly by having 2 dinner parties!

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Elizabeth and David were our first dinner guests – a little daunting cooking for a ‘chef’, with little known appliances – but it was great to return their hospitality and we toasted Piedaleau with a bottle of Moet et Chandon which Yves and Annalies presented us with when they visited the boat in January.

And then last night we invited Steven and Truus – a Canadian / Dutch couple whom we met in a restaurant last week! They are boat hunting having decided that they can no longer cope with blue water sailing. So we went with them to see a boat here in St Jean.


David and Elizabeth helped me organise a little birthday surprise for Adrian – David finished the new name boards and Elizabeth gift wrapped one for me so that Adrian had something to ‘open’ on his birthday. We all went to La Garaudiere for dinner.








And then the next day they came over and David (with a little help from Elizabeth) fixed the new boards in place.              Looking really good!


We were able to stay 2 weeks on board doing various things – including our first joint boat service! Had to put our new found maintenance skills to the test!!

The weather improved vastly during this time so that on Tues 10th March we took Piedaleau out for our first trip – notably to the fuel barge but also for some maneuvering practice at the campsite pontoon. It was a stunning spring day and we both really enjoyed it although we have to remember to do everything very much more slowly than on Misty Morning. The bow thruster decided not to work as we came back into our mooring, which was a little challenging given the fact that she weighs around 30 tons and there are lots of plastic boats on the pontoon!


We came back home on the 12th March and we are now busily planning our return in mid April when the real fun will start – trip up the Canal du Bourgogne (242 kms and 179 locks) as a real shake down cruise!

Bought it!



Welcome to my first Piedaleau blog!!!

Many of you will have followed my previous adventures on Misty Morning. Sadly she is up for sale.

But we are now the proud owners of Piedaleau! (say it out loud, slowly……  and then think about it!).

She is a 14.9m long steel barge. Big, solid and boxy but absolutely lovely inside. A real floating apartment! We looked at quite a few boats – hundreds online and several in the ‘flesh’ in France and UK . We fell in love with Piedaleau immediately and could not be tempted away by anything else. So in Januuary we went to St Jean de Losne where she is moored at Blanquarts and had her surveyed. Needless to say there were some issues but after a fairly stressful week of quote-seeking and discussions with the vendor we completed the purchase and moved on board for a week. It was cold outside but ok inside once we had worked out how to operate the heating!

Our good friend Yves (of Capt’Yves) was our first proper visitor along with Annalies and Isabelle. It was great to be able to show off Piedaleau and we look forward to that bottle of Moet they presented us with!

We will return to Piedaleau in April when we will take her up the Burgundy Canal (242 kms & 196 locks) to Migennes to have her lifted out and her bottom done properly! The joys of boat ownership!! Still, as the surveyor told us, ‘you buy a boat and you get problems’! But all will be good I’m sure.

So, we went home; thought long and hard about Misty Morning; attended boat engine maintenance and electrics courses and visited Kate Boats of Warwick (built Piedaleau) to pick their brains and discuss some issues.

We decided to send Misty Morning home and to put her on sale on the Thames where we hope she will stand a better chance of finding a new owner to love her! Things happened really quickly on this front and we ended up returning to France last week t finish packing her up and sending her on her way. So we are back on Piedalieu for a week or so and I hope I can get this blog out to you all!