Thursday 8 August 2012

Thursday 9 August 2012 – Nemours – Maintenance Day

We have fallen into a nice routine of moving along for a few days, then stopping for a couple of days to catch up with shopping, repairs/laundry/cleaning etc.   Today was that day.  Out came Wandah and as Barbara played with bubbles happily in the sunshine,  Steve inverted himself in the engine room,  measuring throttle and gear cable lengths.   As this is being written,  Ba is below giving Wight Mistress a good old huck out.   After this,  one believes the next task is shopping.

D W Crow just arrived.  Nice to see Bob and Martha again.  Been invited onboard this evening.

Overnight Nemours 48 16.261N   002 41.509E

Wednesday 8 August 2012 – Cepoy to Nemours

Happy birthday to our lovely grandson Carson.

Up quite early this morning,  we went for a wander around the little village of Cepoy in the beautiful morning sunshine,  before making breakfast and getting under way at 0950.   Took a bit of ploughing to get off the bank.

Compared with the last couple of very short days,  today was an epic:   we covered 27 kilometres and 10 locks,  arriving at Nemours at 1600.  We did have a lunch stop at Neronville and we also encountered  ‘Albert’ – a British canal boat registered in Cowes.  During our lunch break 3 French ladies came by on their ‘velos’ to stop and say hello and admire our lovely Wight Mistress.  It seems odd but most people we speak to on our travels in the waterways  are really surprised that we have sailed at sea as well.

‘Water Weasel’  was already alongside here and we spent a little time comparing notes.   They are heading off tomorrow, continuing north and then on round to the River Yonn and the Canal de Bourgogne (similar plan to us.)   However,  intelligence suggests that we may also find the Canal de Bourgogne a little challenging from a depth of water point of view.  Notes such as  ‘boats with a draught over 1.3 metres will have to keep to the centre of the canal/river’  are making us look very carefully at our near term plans, so watch this space, dear reader.

After settling the boat down for the evening we wandered off into Nemours to find a grocery store.   Not much in the way of food shops in the town – like many towns around the world,  with the advent of the huge ‘out-of-town’  supermarkets, the little stores cannot compete (unless they are being run by entre-preneurly efficient shop keepers from another part of the world peut-etre?

Found  a nice little hostelry facing the inner harbour (a dead end of canal off the main watery thoroughfare)  and put the world to rights for an hour or so.

Overnight Nemours 48 16.261N   002 41.509E

Tuesday 7 August 2012 – Montargis to Cepoy

Another long and arduous day on the canal,  left at 1317 and arrived at Cepoy at 1615,  passing through 5 locks, leaving the Canal de Briare and entering the Canal du Loing in the process.

Tough life this canal cruising J    Cepoy was just a green bank with bollards.   Quiet night in tonight.

Overnight Cepoy   48 16.621N   002 41 509E

Monday 6 August 2012 – Montbuoy to Montargis

Got under way at 0930, passing a full sized,  very rusty peniche coming the other way and as he passed us, Barbara was watching intently on the navigational situation – yeah right!!!!!  She was ogling the fit guy, stripped to the waste and tanned etc,  handling the helm.   Had to throw a bucket of water over her.

Along next came a large hotel barge, crawling quite slowly along the canal. This canal is quite narrow in places and as we passed we slipped gently off his bow wave and ploughed a small furrow in the muddy bottom for a few feet.

Arrived Montargis mid afternoon and went for a wander in what is a very pretty town.  It claims to be the ‘Venice of Central France’  and to be honest there are a few small canals around the place.  Decorated with small boats moored mid-stream and full of flowers – very pretty.    The only down-side was what seemed to be the continuous, heady smell of  what we thought to be ‘dog poo’.  Sad really.    Other than that,  very attractive and the main canal twisting its way through the town is equally photo- worthy.

Our Canadian friends  Bob and Martha onboard ‘DW Crow’ – a Cabot 36 sloop – arrived in astern of us.  They have been experiencing some problems with their  sea water cooling pump.  Another huge coincidence?   Their recently replaced engine is identical to ours on Wight Mistress – a Lombardini  LDW 2204M.

Hopefully we have provided enough information to help with the problem.

Overnight Montargis   47 59.532N  002 44.064E

Sunday 5 August 2012 Chatillon-Coligny to Montbuoy

Quiet little village alongside the canal. Arrived around lunch time and went for a cycle ride to look for the Roman amphitheatre,  about am kilometre outside the village.  Not a lot to see and all fenced off,  so we cycled a bit further and came back along the canal bank.    Confronted by a Frenchman in a blue Renault van,  we were advised that there is a tournament de peche (fishing competition) and the bank is closed further down.  We explained where we were heading and he was happy.    We tried to find a watermill nearby but it looked to be privately owned and the gates were locked, so we pressed on.    Got back to Wight Mistress just as the tournament de peche started on the bank opposite us.  Talk about watching paint dry!!!  The only excitement was when a British ‘Dutch’ barge came through.  All the ‘pecheurs’  had these huge 30 foot long fishing poles with the tackle hanging off the end,   stuck right out across the canal.   On passing the British skipper said to us ‘I think I am about to make a lot of friends here.’   He then carried on,  passing about 2 kilometres of irate French pecheurs,  all having to haul their gear in to let him past.  Made us laugh.   Rain started into about the 3rd hour of this tournament but the pecheurs were not perturbed at all about it.   The tournament ended with a ‘5 minute gun (or bang of some sort)  and when the ‘fini’  gun went off, it was amazing.  In England there would have been all sorts of last-second trying to get a fish or something.   Pas les francais,   up went all their fishing poles together.   Their catches of assorted tiddlers etc were then weighed by the judge and the ones still alive were chucked back in the canal  (I think some of the larger ones went home to form part of a repas de poisson) and a party to celebrate the tournament then went on into the evening.

Tournament des pecheurs at Montbuoy – before the rain started

Overnight Montbuoy  47 51.713N   002 49.286E

Saturday 4 August 2012 – Chatillon-Coligny

This morning we wandered into the town to look at the museum, where Robert joined us.   The Becquerel family lived in the town and the upper floor of the museum is dedicated to the family and their work in nuclear physics, along with Marie Curie,  Albert Einstein,  Earnest Rutherford and others.   They had a cut away model of a Cobalt 60 radiotherapy head very similar to the ones Barbara used years ago,  before all the radioactive power became electronically produced.  Fascinating to see how the machinery worked.  The rest of the museum covered the town through the ages, with a large Roman presence for about 400 years.

Billow moved on this afternoon to make distance up to the north, where they are meeting their son Gavin and his two elder children.  Gavins wife Emily is staying home with their tiny baby.  We made some use of the wifi  today and helped  Hans and Carien,  a Dutch couple aboard their barge (that looks a bit like a tug)  ‘Arend.’   They were having problems with email and also being able to log on to the VNF website to buy and download their ‘vignette’  (cruising licence.)   After a couple of hours,  some  Advocaat (neat) and a couple of Heinekens,  all was sorted.  We started chatting about music;  Hans is a jazz lover and when I mentioned Stan Kenton (brilliant  trombonist and band leader)   Hans brought out just about every LP Stan Kenton had ever made.  What a coincidence!!

Quiet night in with a movie and bed.

Overnight Chatillon-Coligny 47 49.123N   002 50.643E

Friday 3 August 2012 – Chatillon-Coligny

A pretty and welcoming town, just across the canal from us is a park where the children seem to play all day, whooping and laughing (well, after all it is August and France is ‘en vacance’.  It is a pleasure to hear it.  Today was market day and the market was spread across a number of the streets in the centre of the town.  We wandered aimlessly through the street, taking the ambience of a French market in the warm sunshine.   A coffee at a street-side bar rounded up the morning before returning to Wight Mistress, armed with la baguette and some French cheeses, for lunch.    This afternoon Robert and Judith had need of picking up some fuel for Billow,  so Robert had his first ‘lecon sur un velo electrique.’   We stopped on the way for a beer (like you do)  and a chat, before finding our way to the  ‘Supe U’ where fuel was a good price.   We now know that our  ‘remorque’ (trailer) will happily carry 10 gallons of diesel (in containers, bien sur)  AND 48 stubbies of beer.    While out on our intrepid search for diesel,  Barbara had ‘Wandah’  working hard on the smalls etc and she also scrubbed Wight Mistress to within an inch of her life.  WM looks lovely. All Steve had to do on return was to top up the fresh water tanks.

After a busy afternoon, poor Ba was suffering a little with cramps in her groin,  so for the rest of the day there was the requirement for health-giving cups of tea while she perched on the sofa in the wheelhouse.   Of course,  Steves  poor finger had to be undressed, inspected and re-dressed prior to rest.

Overnight Chatillon-Coligny  47 49.123N   002 50.643E

Thursday 2 August 2012   Rogny les 7 Ecluses to  Chatillon-Coligny

Slower start today after last nights epic meal.   6 locks,  all down,  to Chatillon.  Arrived just after lunch and parked on a long wall in the town.  Just as well we arrived early;   3 big privately owned barges slunk by,  looking at us as if to say  ‘B*****er off and let us in.’  We gave them a stiff ignoring,  in a nice way.

Overnight Chatillon-Coligny  47 49.123N   002 50.643E

Wednesday 1 August 2012  – Ouzouer sur Trezer to Rogny les 7 Ecluses  – Judith’s birthday

Sunny day,  did 12 locks today,  6 up, 6 down,  arriving at Rogny late afternoon.    As you come around the corner in the canal to the last lock into the town,  over your starboard shoulder you see the old  7 level staircase lock that is now a monument to French engineering.  Fascinating, because one can see a lock with no water in it and for the uninitiated,  it describes just how a lock works.  Took lots of pics.    OUCH!!!!!  In the last lock, Steve leapt off to help Billow with her lines,  caught his wedding ring on the thread end of a bolt (covered in tape to stop this sort of event) and the ring sliced into his finger, right into the muscle,  buckling the ring in the process.   Once Billow was alongside some smart work with hacksaw, side-cutters and snipe-nosed pliers and the offending ring was now a ‘curve’.  Barbara then did her medical thing, cleaning it up and checking the damage.  Once happy that it should heal,  she applied some ‘there-there’ cream and medical masking tape.   Ring finger now on light duties until further notice.  S’funny;  no-one seems to be wearing rings now.

The old 7 step lock system

Some info

Judith found a nice restaurant in which to celebrate her birthday with dinner.   Steve was then tasked to call the restaurant and book the table.   Excellent dinner,   great company,  food coma followed.

Celebrating Judiths birthday

The restaurant. We challenge anyone to find it in Rogny les Sept Ecluses. We have no idea how Judith found it.

Overnight Rogny les 7 Ecluses 47 4.772N  002 52.857E

Tuesday 31 July 2012 – Briare to Ouzouer sur Trezer

Judith and Robert’s 40th wedding anniversary (they kept that quiet!!)

Discovered another halt, away along the canal from the commercial port,  and Billow was moored there.   We took WM along to explore with the possible view of staying another night.  Shock-horror deux,   the charge for this halt was the same as for the port.  No power or water but for your 11 euros you got  stinging nettles and dog merde!  Not thanks!   After helping Robert collect and install a new engine battery, we decided to depart.

Arrived at Ouzouer sur Treze around mid afternoon in brilliant sunshine to find 2 perfect parking slots for Billow and Wight Mistress,  free and with power and water.   A quick recce of the small town found one pub  (a gay bar)  open.  After dinner we decided to wander in and have a look.  Arrived at the bar and were invited to use the ‘terrasse’  a pretty little courtyard around the side of the bar.    ‘Queen playing  ‘Lover Boy’  at a million decibels,  not exactly subtle but they did turn it right down so we could here our own voices.   The manager served us.  Lovely chap called Stefan,  who couldn’t have been more helpful.  Stayed there for the evening.

WM at Ouzouer sur Treze

Overnight Ouzouer sur Trezer  47 40.217N  002 48.632E

Monday 30 July 2012 – Belville sur Loire to Briare

Weather broke today,  cold and rainy until after we reached Briare.  The ‘pont-canal’ carrying the canal over the Loire,   runs to just under 700 metres and is beautifully kept.   Steve video’d the crossing but sadly the waterproof camera ended up with lots of droplets on the lens.   Hey ho.

The 699-odd metre long pont-canal (bridge carrying the canal de Briare over the River)

The bridge – a Wight Mistress eye-view

Making passage

Wandered into the town to look around.  Actually quite pretty,  with the old parts of the previous canal now used as a harbour (a bit too shallow for  Wight Mistress, so we stayed alongside in the commercial port.   Shock – horror,  11 euros a night to stay here.  Still, at least we had enough depth to park straight, plus power and water.

one of the beautiful scenes around Briare

Overnight Briare   47 38.061N  002 44.429E

Sunday 29 July 2012 – Belville sur Loire

More of the same.   Weather brilliant.

Overnight Belville sur Loire 47 30.354N 002 51.198E

Saturday 28 July – Belville sur Loire

Quiet day on the halt, doing a bit of maintenance and chilling out.

Overnight Belville sur Loire 47 30.354N 002 51.198E

Friday 27 July 2012 – Lere to Belville sur Loire

About 3 km away are two enormous cooling towers for the pair of pressure water reactors at Belville.    These plants provide about 4% of Frances electricity supply and the cooling is provided by the Loire,  which goes up a degree or so as a result.  The visitor centre was fascinating.   Sadly, since 911,  visits to the actual plant are severely restricted.   Just on more thing ruined by inconsiderate ‘heroes’  fighting for what they believe in (or what they can be paid for).   Got the Cob BBQs out and had a smashing evening al fresco.

The young eclusier at Belville is an idiot.   He seems to like seeing just how fast he can flush all the water out of his lock,  regardless of the effect on boats moored nearby.  In addition,  he was rude, surly and generally uncooperative,  so much so that Steve feels like penning a letter to the head office of the VNF about him.   Having chatted with other boaters about him,  stories have come out about him spanning a couple of years and none were good.

Overnight Belville sur Loire 47 30.354N 002 51.198E

Thursday 26 July 2012 – Menetreole to Lere

Stopped at a funny halt,  a bit like a watery layby the size of a supermarket carpark.   Next to it was the communal wheat storage.  With the harvest going flat out, tractor after tractor pulling trailers piled high with grain came past to deposit their loads.   Apart from that,  a lovely sunny evening and great facilities.  Wandered off into the pretty village (yes, another one) for the evening.

Overnight Lere   47 28.435N   002 52.511E

Wednesday 25 July 2012 – Menetreole sous Sancerre

Did the bike ride up the hill to Sancerre.  Thank God for battery power – we were all the way up there (about 4 km from Menetreole) in around 15 minutes.  Of course, we were pedaling as well but the battery power did make easy work of the ride.   Sancerre is a pretty small town perched on the top of a hill, with all the history you would expect of a wine making area.  Lots of lovely old buildings and little alleyways and bright sunshine as well.  Bought a case of varying wines of the region to bring home and enjoy.   Coasted back down to Wight Mistress in no time flat.

Sancerre as seen from the bottom of the hill.

This evening we decided to eat in the auberge again,  which is where we met up with a chap called Pierre.  His English was much worse then our French so we spent the evening locked in conversation francais.   Invited up to his house for coffee after our repas,   Veronique (the lady owner of the restaurant) advised us to take a torch.   Just as well;  at 2300 all the street lamps are turned off and with no moon and a bit of cloud cover,  and no large towns anywhere nearby,  all of a sudden we were completely in the black.  Around 0100 we left Pierre’s place, after enjoying some rose,  coffee and some great Eagles and Fleetwood Mac music. Our little torch then did us proud, as we wound our way back to Wight Mistress.

Overnight Menetreole sous Sancerre   47 19.104 N  002 51.441E

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