Read about this trip from the start – here.
Once on the Saône River we had one last lock to Pontailler-sur-Saône where we planned to spend two nights. We had mountains of washing and were desperate to catch on communcations. We found a lovely hire boat marina with everything – except – laundry facilities. And a guy who spoke perfect English. The relief at getting this far, being able to buy food, have wi-fi and take a day or two out was immense. We dashed up to the marina office with our lap-tops but alas, mine did not want to know this marina. I had to transfer all my important stuff onto my husband’s portable hard-drive and of course I had forgotten my password. By the time we got sorted the shops had closed and the heavens opened. Rain came down in sheets. The last thing we wanted was to move. We had plenty wine, a few cracker biscuits and half a jar of red sauerkraut. That was supper. Both of us were in bed and asleep by 21.00pm.
|Laundry on the back of the boat|
With a free day we did a mini walk around Pontialler-sur-Saône. Gorgeous place. It’s also a hub for hire boats so there was a lot more going on in terms of boats and boating stuff. We found all sorts of things to buy at the marina. An extra long boat hook and some water-proof gloves for me. More maps for my husband. We also contacted the previous owners to find out a bit more about the engine. One thing we did not want was to be scrutinised by lock-keepers on our next holiday. If it meant an engine overhaul – or even a new green engine – then we would have to be open to that. Luckily for us the previous owners have always been generous with information regarding our boat. It was their home for a good few years too. I cannot bear to think of the day we have to part with Shangri La. We also found a nice big supermarket with lots of yummy things so did a stock up. There was a laundry at the camp-site across the river so we took a walk there to find out what the procedure was. It’s a 2 kilometre walk, hardly a hardship. But carrying a big bag of clothing made it a touch difficult.
Our next morning we got up really late. The marina is so quiet it’s easy to oversleep. It was so nice to have time to just be. We did a quick catch up on commms again and got chatting to one bloke working at the marina. We asked about the problem we had with locks not working. He was saying that it’s as much of a problem for hire-boat companies. They get calls from customers stuck in locks. They also have to get boats around to fit the needs of clients and cannot afford to wait for a lock to open. He said he often waves his jacket in front of the sensors to re-set the lock. Or if a lock won’t open, as a result of filling due to leaks, he gives the lock gates a gentle nudge with the boat. Not sure we would want to use our boat to open a lock but the jacket idea might come in useful.
We piled our washing in a big blue IKEA bag, strapped it to our wheelie shopper and took it to the camper site. The washing machine was able to take big loads but the dryer was a disaster. I ended up with a heap of wet washing. But one thing did work. My lap-top happily connected to their wi-fi. I was grateful it worked and that I didn’t have a serious problem. I also had the Gerald Morgan-Grenville – Barging into Burgundy – book with me to pass the time whilst doing the laundry. As I said earlier, he wrote this book forty, maybe even more years ago. It’s amazing how not much has changed. He certainly gets himself and his crew into all sorts of messes. It’s a light, fun read. My other half in the meantime gave Shangri La a much needed clean. He scrubbed the awnings and muck on the sides of the boat from the fenders and moss in the locks. She was gleaming when I got back.
The following day we got going for Auxonne. There we bumped into another boat we passed a few times on the waterways and got chatting. Lovely couple from Australia. Auxonne is just like many of these old villages. The French are known for being resistant to change and I guess in some ways it’s a good thing. A person can walk the streets of a town and imagine what it would have been like hundreds of years ago. We did a wander about and found a place to have something to eat. Then stocked up on food as well as a detour into a Boulangerie. They are SO hard to resist.
The other boaties invited us for a drink on board their boat and we were happy to accept. They also have a Valkkruiser but theirs is a touch bigger. We were keen to see how that translated into layout. They have a lovely boat and like us are very happy. From Auxonnne it was off to our last stop and the place where we planned to winter Shangri La – St-Jean-de-Losne. My husband had pre-booked for our boat to come out the water. One nice thing about meeting fellow boaties is they share information and it would seem our apprehension at leaving our boat in the water during winter was possibly unfounded. We live in South Africa which is far away and we would rather she was up on dry land but we may re-consider this approach in time.
|Back in the locks|
St-Jean-de-Losne was nothing like I imagined it would be. It’s one of THE boating places in France but the town is so small. The marina wasn’t all that. The floating ablution block could have done with a clean. But the wifi was excellent. We arrived on a Monday when nothing happens anyway and the day was taken up locating all the various people my husband had been in contact with and finalising arrangements for the boat.
We also made contact with the world again letting people know we were still alive. The next day the cafés opened and the town looked a whole lot busier. We piled yet more washing into our IKEA bag and set out for the Laverie. How does a person generate so much laundry? Once the washing was going my husband tempted me into sharing a pichet (carafe) of vin de table (house wine). We sat under vines at a café next-door looking over the River Saône watching myriad boats floating up and down. St-Jean-de-Losne is a major juncture for a whole lot of canals and waterway routes. It’s goes back eons. What’s nice about this area – and handy for the next few years of boating – is there are relatively few locks, lots of lovely old towns and the area is geared for boats and boating.
The story continues – nest week.