Wednesday, 10 April 2019

Lucy-sur-Yonne (will the geese wake us?)

Buddy looking down at our lonesome mooring on Monday evening
The weather started off promising on Monday morning, sun was burning off the early mist as we were having breakfast.  By the time we set off for Rochers du Saussois the clouds were rolling in but at least it remained dry.

Mist burning off the fields before we left on Monday morning
We were meeting our éclusier at the first lock at 10 and sure enough he had the lock gates open and ready for us when we arrived.  We had read that the water was free at the village after the lock so we told the éclusier we would stop for water which would take about half an hour.

Approaching the pontoons and water points at Mailly-la-Ville
For once there was a lot of mooring space, in the form of extra slippery pontoons, at the village but, again, we were the only boat there.

Amongst the boaty things we had to buy for France were plenty of hose adapters.  In the UK the canal water points generally all have the same screw thread attachment but over here they are many and varied and they don’t necessarily have screw threads.

Handy adapter that fits three different thread diameters
You may also notice in the picture above that I have had to use a cable tie to keep the tap depressed.  Not all the taps we have come across have a tap that turns, this one would only deliver water when held depressed by hand, hence the cable tie.  Oh yes, a bag of cable ties was another French boaty purchase.

Naked lady at the entrance to the next lock
I spent some time researching the naked lady on the internet but could find nothing (yes, I was careful to qualify ‘naked lady’). 

One thing we have noticed is the abundance of cowslips.  They seem to adorn both banks all along this canal.

Passing the only other boat we saw on the move all day

One of the exposed weirs that we tend to steer away from
After going up the second lock we were approaching Mailly-le-Chateau and the éclusier was stopping for his lunch break so we stopped for lunch as well.

Looking up to Mailly-le-Chateau – we pulled into the cut out on the right for lunch
Our lunch spot was one of the many mooring points that seem to be shared with campervanners. It makes sense as boaters and campervanners all need water and some need electricity.    

Moored for lunch with a campervan
Many of the mooring points also have recycling and refuse bins so we took advantage of those while we were there.  There was only one campervan at the site and the French couple were happily sitting outside reading, looking like they had been there for a few days..

I’m sure the joke’s been made many times before but at least we found somewhere to recycle disabled people 😊
Talking about cowslips reminds me of an early butterfly sighting I heard about from the UK.  Duke of Burgundy Fritillaries (what a lovely name) lay their eggs on cowslips and the leaves are then eaten by the emerging caterpillars.  These butterflies have been seen over a month earlier than usual already in the UK. And, talking about butterflies, I can report that the most common butterfly that we are seeing presently is the beautiful orange tip.

As we continued, the valley sides became rockier and the clouds became darker. 

Inquisitive cows
At the last lock of the day, which was the only one after lunch, we had to wait for the éclusier and it started drizzling.  We had probably miscommunicated about the time we expected to be there.  As we were going to have to wait for the van to arrive, Karen climbed up to make the front secure.  Trying to hook the loop over with the boathook is a bit problematical at some of these locks as the bollards are so far away from the side.  Having time on our hands meant it was easier to do it the long way rather than faffing around with the pole.

Karen taking the easy way out
We were soon heading for the Rochers du Saussois where we had planned to moor for the night.  The rocks are on the opposite bank of the river to the village of Merry-sur-Yonne.  There were some moorings before the rocks and there was just one boat moored there but we took the chance that the moorings under the rocks would be free.

Searching for the moorings (that’s a VNF éclusier’s van going past)
The moorings consisted of a boat length between two bollards and it was empty. It drizzled all afternoon, stopping in the early evening and we were rewarded with a sunset.

Looking down on our mooring with Merry-sur-Yonne on the other bank…
…and nothing in front of us either
On Monday we cruised eight miles up four locks.

We had promised ourselves that if it was cloudless first thing on Tuesday morning that we would climb up to the top of the cliffs again to get a better view than on Monday evening. Unfortunately, it was gloomy with just a few breaks in the clouds, so we didn’t bother.  As it was, we had to leave soon after 9.30 as we had agreed to meet the éclusier at the first lock at 10, so we wouldn’t have had much time anyway.

He came out of his van as soon as he saw us coming and was particularly helpful and chatty; he took the line from Karen at each lock to hook it over a bollard.  To be honest all the ones we have met so far have been friendly, but some do keep themselves to themselves and therefore aren’t chatty but that hasn't stopped them helping Karen out if they've seen her struggling in a deep lock. 

Our helpful éclusier on Tuesday
He gave some ponies some grass while waiting for the lock to fill
Talking about éclusiers, we haven’t seen any wearing a life saver yet, whereas in the UK you wouldn’t see a lockie without one.  The general rule on manned locks over here seems to be that only éclusiers are allowed to open and close paddles but are happy if boaters help by opening or closing gates.  As we generally only have one gate open for us we haven’t really helped very often but on one lock today, where two gates were open, Karen not only closed one but was allowed to drop the paddles too!

We came across an instruction diagram at one lock which seemed to suggest that boaters could self-operate the lock which is a bit contrary to the rules we had been given.

The only instruction diagram we have seen – useful for confirming some French words of course

We have only passed two locks where the pretty name plates have been removed/stolen from above the lock cottage door
After the first three locks we could see we were approaching Châtel-Censoir as the church of Saint Potention seemed to dominate the town.

We didn’t have time to get up the fifth and final lock of the day at Lucy-sur-Yonne before the éclusier’s lunch hour so stopped a little way out of the village and had an early lunch ourselves.  The clouds had now all but gone and we were able to sit outside to eat in comfort.

Looking for somewhere to moor for lunch

Moored for lunch with Buddy happy to be laying in the sun
Soon after setting off again we saw what I’m convinced was a booted eagle soaring above open ground below the forests on the hills.  I cannot be definite about the name as I’m no ornithological expert, but it was certainly majestic.

Where we saw the possible booted eagle
We also passed a distance stone that showed us that we only have 130 kilometres to go before we reach the River Loire at the southern end of the canal.

As with many parts of northern and central France, mistletoe (gui in French) is far more in abundance than back home and it has always puzzled me why.  I found out recently that it very rarely grows on oak and as that is such a common tree in the UK that will be one of the reasons I suspect.

Typical view of mistletoe
We arrived at Lucy-sur-Yonne and once again found we were the only boat around.  In fact, we didn’t see any other boats on the move all day.  Apart from passing the odd boat at recognised village and town moorings we are yet to see boats just moored out in the country like we have been generally doing.  This may well change when the season really gets going but it is really uncanny, cruising for hours on end without passing a single moored boat or one on the move.

Moored next to the river for Tuesday night at Lucy-sur-Yonne
We had a walk around the village which was deathly quiet, and most houses had their shutters closed.  We had hoped to go into the church to see some stained-glass windows that were made by the artist Luc Simon who died a few years ago.  Like most of the houses the church was locked up too, so we went for a walk along the canal towards Coulanges-sur-Yonne.

Walking into the village of Lucy-sur-Yonne
It had really got rather unexpectedly hot by the time we got home, and we sat outside and read for the rest of the afternoon.  In the end it clouded over again, and the rain brought us back indoors for the rest of the day.  As usual it was very quiet, but we did have a pair of greylag geese that kept coming near the boat and honking loudly; we do hope they don’t wake us up too early on Wednesday morning 😉

Tomorrow we have arranged to stay put in the morning and go up the first lock after lunch and plan on getting to Clamecy where we hope to stop for a few days.  You may remember that we had our bikes stolen from the back of the boat during our last week in the UK.  We decided not to replace them straight away but wait and see if we would really use them over here.  We have now reached the point where we think it would be good to have bicycles again so we will be on the lookout for second hand ones.  

On Tuesday we cruised seven miles up five locks.

And finally, one place we're not in a rush to visit!

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