Traveling along the River Saone
Traveling along the River Saone

The journey begins . . . here.

Tuesday 10th July 2018
Chalon-sur-Saone to Verdun-sur-le-Doubs
My better half does all sorts of things I don’t even know about. He’s a ship captain and gets (for the most part) how boats work. Before we left for Paris he closed all the sea cocks and places where water moves within the boat. As we geared up to leave Chalon-sur-Saone he started the engine and checked cooling water was coming out the exhaust. This particular morning – it wasn’t. He topped up with water. But that wasn’t working either. Turns out the water cooling inlet was so clogged with weeds that it couldn’t function. He eventually attached our hose pipe to water from the quay, pushed the hose deep into the system, turned the tap on full force, and blasted the weeds out. That worked and we got the system going. Only thing is when we took the hose pipe out we never got to the quay to turn it off fast enough and the saloon was given an almighty hose down of water. But hey, we saved €60 an hour plus transport getting an engineer in.

It’s not often we pull our fenders up as there’s always a lock around the corner but with not a single lock for the entire day, we brought them on board. Being on a river versus a canal is such a contrast. No lunch time delays. We could go a bit faster and give the engine a bit of a workout. Not too much of a workout as there were canoeists doing their thing and a wake could capsize them. It was a perfect day. A bit cloudy, not too hot, and no rain. We’d commented on how few boats were around this year compared to last year on the canals. On the Saone, we saw boat, after boat, after boat.

Sorting out the engine
Sorting out the engine

I defintely think boating is a two person thing. No doubt my better half can manage without me 90% of the time. But you need four pairs of hands sometimes. It’s when you’re tie-ing up and juggling ropes or fenders that having an extra person is crucial. Even if all the extra person does is hold a rope.

At Verdun-sur-le-Doubs we slowed down and pronto a young chap came down and asked us firstly, if we spoke English or French, and then how many nights we planned to stay. He motioned where he wanted us to tie up. It’s a stern to (backwards) tie up so I had to move fenders to the back of the boat. As we were manoevreing the boat to move the rear in and were about 5 metres from the quay, a Swiss boat tried to go straight into our spot. At first we though he was aiming for the quay next to us. Then we realised he was going to cross our boat while we were moving. We motioned for him to stop but he ingnored us. The youngster from the Capitainerie had to shout at him to wait his turn. To be fair to him, I don’t think he could see or hear us. There are a lot of seriously old people driving boats.

Typical architecture in Burgundy
Typical architecture in Burgundy

His partner was a glamourous woman in high heeled espadrilles. Not the sort of attire conducive to boating. But gorgeous none the less. She clearly had no idea what to do. He motored full throttle toward the quay, then hit his bow thruster hard. His boat was going all over the place smashing the quay and bashing into our boat. The youngester from the Capitainerie, the glamourous woman and my husband and I were fending off his boat from all angles.

Verdun-sur-le-Doubs filled up shortly after we tied up. It was a mix of hire boats and owner boats. The bar come cafe at the marina was full as it was Soccer Cup 2018 semi finals. Boaters were sitting on their decks laughing and talking. I love the smell of food cooking, the sounds of cutlery and crockery, bottles of wine popping open, glasses clinking and people enjoying themselves. It’s very seldom people get loud or rowdy on the waterways. French people know how to behave. And then France won. They made it into the finals. Oh my word, the mood shifted to jubulation. A riot of festivities instantly broke out – church bells, hooters, whistles, vuvuzelas, singing, shouting and utter joy. It was so much fun.

The journey continues  . . . . . . 

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