Wednesday 16th September 2009

Greenie driving the Penichette

This was our last day for taking in locks and doing mileage. We wanted to be close to our final destination to allow us time to clean and pack up. The locks were much quieter this end so we made good time and the locks were a breeze.

Obelisque to Paul Riquet

We passed the summit of the lock where the river feeds water into the canal from the mountains. They call it the parting of the waters. There was an obelisque to Paul Riquet who started building the Canal du Midi in 1667 although the Romans originally had the idea of a route between the two oceans. It apparently cost millions back then and Riquet spent all his vast personal fortune and the salt taxes from the region in the building of the canal. It took 14 years to complete with 4000 people working on it.

We never saw any working boats on the canal apart from one that passed this particular day. It was a tour/lunch boat taking people up or down the canal. Working boats always have right of way so they snuck into the lock ahead of us. After the summit we started locking down which took a bit of getting used to as we had only locked up till now.

Patrick on the bridge over the River Aude

Our mooring for the night was right outside our last lock of the trip. Usually there are bollards or pontoons near to the locks which means one doesn’t have to hammer pegs or stakes into the ground, which can delay mooring. We both had a last run along the towpath although a semi road had replaced the towpath but it was quiet and apart from one or two cyclists I was the only runner for the hour I was out.

The final lock was only 4 kms away so I got a chance to see where we needed to moor and what facilities we could expect. We were the only boat at this remote spot and being out in the country it was pitch dark. All we heard was the sounds of nature. We never got to speak as much French as we hoped. How we were taught and how they speak is not the same. The French drop letters and merge words together which makes it really hard to understand them. But mostly they understood us.

Thursday 17th September 2009

Greenie about to enjoy a boat meal

This was our last full day and we chose to relax and square up. We woke to ducks squawking, some roosters from a farm nearby and the birds twittering in the plane trees next to us. It was all peace and quiet at this mooring spot. We liked the handling of this particular style of boat. Boats vary in their shape and structure and thus handle differently.

Some cabin cruiser boats slide about on the water. The biggest thing to grasp is that a boat does not have brakes. You can’t hurtle at full speed and then suddenly stop. The brief driving lesson and the instructions in the manual the boat hire company provide are well worth studying. It is vital to understand how to move a boat, particularly in small spaces like a lock.

Deep lock on Canal du Robin – see faces at top

For the most part the climate had been cool in the mornings and decidedly hot in the afternoons. But by the latter part of September the mornings were colder and I was wearing a warm jacket. The European holiday season typically ends the last week in September when the weather starts to turn.

Perving boats from the side of the canal

The boat hire company offered a cleaning service but we chose to clean the boat ourselves. Since it wasn’t a big boat and there were only two of us it wasn’t a hardship. We arrived early afternoon at the Locaboat office in Negra and arranged a taxi to collect us the following morning with the guy in the office. He wasn’t too particular about the boat being squeaky clean, just the basics such as strip the linen and mop the floor type stuff. The evening was a bit of an anti-climax as we so enjoyed our holiday. We shared our last bottle of wine and ate the last leftovers while planning our next boating holiday from a brochure we picked up at the office.

Go to – My Holidays and Trips – at the top of this page to read about other places we have visited. Or just click on – this link.

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