Thursday 29 September 2011 Day 49 (105)

Soulanges to Vitry le Francois.

Departed at a civilized time of the day (1015) and did 3 locks.  The last two were interesting.  First one, easy like all the others.   Second one had 2 red lights up.

For information, on this canal  the locks are tripped by twisting a pole a quarter turn anti-clockwise.  This pole is hanging from a stanchion out over the canal, so we drift up to it gently,

Ba twisting a lock control pole

Barbara twists it and that makes a yellow light on the lock entrance flash, acknowledging the signal.   After that the normal red and green lights mean lock preparing, then the gate opens, the red goes off, the green stays on and in we go.  Once in the lock, we moor up,  set our lines to hold us steady and then operate the lock.   On the wall are two poles hanging down from a control box.  The blue pole is lifted and held for 5 seconds to start the lock sequence.  If there is a problem, the red pole is pulled down.  This operates an alarm somewhere in the VNF system and the lock stops operating until a man comes along to sort out the problem.

Great system when it works.  The last two locks didn’t!    One was having a bad day. We twisted our pole, watched the yellow flasher and two reds (not a good sign) then moored next to the lock to go see.   Two VNF chaps were there, waiting for a 3rd with a key to open the control booth.   Very short wait and through we went.  The last lock on this canal had people all over it with jack hammers and all sorts, starting repair and maintenance.   Our two friends pitched up and locked us through in quick time.

At the end of this canal, 3 canals meet:  the canal de Marne au Rhin, going up towards Strasbourg and the Rhine, the canal de Champagne a Bourgogne (also known as the Canal de Marne a Saone) – the one we are joining,  and the Canal Lateral a la Marne – the one we have just completed.

Wight Mistress in the small marina at Vitry le Francois

Just round a few corners we came to Vitry le Fancois.  Now, the map book gave us confusing information about this place.  The rumours were either that this was a place that was topped up with boats that just stay here, or that it was hugely expensive.   The book told us that it had a depth of 1.6 metres or 1.3 metres, depending on which page you read.  All a bit confusing.

Lucky White;  one has been heard to be called this on one or two occasions.  We pulled up and our parking space(s) were available.   When we asked about the depth of water we were told that the dredger had finished work at mid day (we arrived at 1400) and that all was fine.    We did churn a teeny weeny bit of mud (used to it now in the waterways)  but in we came.  Very nice lady managing the place and E8.00 a night for berth, power and water.  Not bad at all.   Another pretty town, did the food shopping, had a walk and settled down.   For some reason both of us feel quite weary.    Did a couple of episodes of Foyle’s War (one of our absolute favourites) and hit the sack.

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