Monday, 27 May 2019

Villeneuve-sous-Charigny (how can we get lost on a canal?)

After a couple of nights moored below the lock at Chailly-sur-Armançon we had a Saturday morning cruise to Saint-Thibault where we hoped to find yet another quiet mooring.  To be honest it’s never difficult to find quiet moorings but the level of the pounds at the top end of this canal do fluctuate a lot so, with shallow sides to the cut anyway, we have to be extra careful where we moor.  We’re lucky in that we have a very low draught compared to say, a hotel boat or working péniche so get a lot more choice.

Aileen had told us that they weren’t allowed to moor in the pounds around here when they came through a couple of years ago.  She and Mike had to spend one night in a lock because the éclusiers were worried about the levels.  Anyway, all was fine for us, I kept the lines slack and the boat seemed to be in deep water all night.

As expected, our éclusier for the day stopped by the boat just before 10.30 to check that we were still wanting to go.  He also wanted to tell us that a boat was coming down the locks behind us and we would therefore be sharing.  It happened to be the French couple that unsuccessfully tried to lock up with us on the other side of the summit.  This time, as we were going down, the boats are easier to control, and we managed all five locks together without any issues.

Sharing all our locks today (we're at the front)
Karen and Buddy walked for the first four locks so Buddy could have his morning walk and we ended up mooring (we thought) by Saint-Thibault.  The plan was to have a walk around the village after lunch and stay until tomorrow afternoon so we can have a slow Sunday morning.  Well, I don’t think going for a run makes for an easy morning, but I know that’s what Karen has planned 😉

Moored at Saint-Thibault

Not a bad view either 
When we finished lunch, Karen was checking what facilities there were at the village and noticed that it was a two kilometre walk along the towpath before we take a road leading up to the village.  It’s amazing, but this is the first time this had happened to us: we had both misread the map and thought we had moored by the road that leads up to the village.  We were more than happy to stay moored where we were as it was deep enough, had gorgeous views and was away from any shading trees.

We decided to take the bikes as we hadn’t cycled for a few days and that way Buddy gets a good run too.  The village was like many we have visited recently, quiet and no sign of any commerce other than a boulangerie which was only open in the mornings.  The village centre, again like most, had discrete posters, all the same size, of the EU parliament candidates.  It feels not so in your face as the massive roadside electoral hoardings seen in the UK.

Fair & discrete approach to electoral hoardings
The village church was out of all proportion to the number of parishioners, as is often the case.  It was an imposing building for such a small place but became derelict in the 14th century.  It was rebuilt a century later but became derelict again for several centuries until it was fully restored in the 18th century.  It fell into disuse again and public and private funds have been used to complete its third restoration.  As much as none of us like to see buildings falling into disrepair, I am always astounded at the money that pours into these places that, in my mind, should be being channelled into worthier, such as making cleaning up the planet and slowing down the loss of our animal and plant species etc.

The village church
We searched the whole village for a lavoir but this time we drew a blank so here some pictures of other buildings instead:

On the way back Buddy had a good run around in the cut – he still won’t go out of his depth so shows no signs of swimming.  We do admit to each other that’s its probably for the best, but we do wonder why we try and encourage him.  I think it’s because we like a challenge and Karen thinks it’s because we think he’ll enjoy it.

Buddy having a mad ten minutes, sort of cooling down
Actually, looking at the picture of Buddy in the water you can see how shallow it is on the sides and why we have to be careful where we choose to moor.

During the afternoon I was in the engine bay trying to locate a box of spare bolts and nuts that I knew I had somewhere but hadn’t seen them for months.  Whilst searching for them (I did find them in the end) I came across two collapsible water containers.  They were tucked down behind the calorifier.

Now, this was strange, as Karen had just ordered two collapsible containers to be picked up when we pop back to the UK next month.  Neither of us knew we had these two hidden in the engine bay.  Neither of us remembered buying them nor putting them in the engine bay either.  Karen did a search on her Amazon order history and found that we had bought them last March 😊

Apart from Karen going for a run we had a slow Sunday morning sitting outside enjoying the sunshine.

Promising looking Sunday with the mist burning off at 7.00am
This has been the quietest canal or river we have been on so far; we haven’t seen a single hire boat and very few private boats in the 100+ kilometres we have been travelling on it.  Though we did see quite a few hotel boats at the beginning between the Saône and Dijon.  Saying that, two boats went past in the opposite direction during the morning.  One was a British couple in a cruiser who called out that this was only their first week here and that they were really happy!

We were going down our first lock at two o’clock and set off after an early lunch at about 12.30.  One section was in a cutting for just over a kilometre where no overtaking or passing was allowed: essentially meaning one-way only.  It was strange going through a narrow passage although we wouldn’t think it narrow at all back in the UK as two narrowboats would easily pass each other.

Tranchée de Creusot
We arrived at the lock nearly half an hour early and as there was no sign of an éclusier and there was a lock landing (the first we have seen in days) we tied up to wait.  Unfortunately, it was too shallow to get right up to the lock landing, so after Karen had successfully thrown a lasso from the gunwales, we stayed on board whilst we waited.  After a while we felt the boat moving and realised our man turned up dead on 2.00 and was filling the lock so we were soon on our way.

Shallow lock landing but at least we had one
Just after the first lock we passed the port at Pont de Royal which had four boats moored in it including some Germans on one.  The German guy obviously had a sense of humour as, once he saw our flag, kept repeating, “Welcome to Europe – stay over here”.

The port at Pont de Royal
We have noticed many of the poplars, or maybe they’re black poplars, are suffering from a disease around here.  Some are clearly dead or dying to such an extent that the mistletoe is also dying.  Many are marked with crosses presumably as they are earmarked for destroying.  It reminded us of the Canal du Midi last summer where the plane trees are suffering a similar fate and in some stretches dozens of trees had been removed.

X marks the spot

Here there is a gap where two trees have been removed, the next down is clearly starting to die, the next has died including the mistletoe and the third is dead but the mistletoe is just hanging on.

When we got to the second lock there was already a boat in it waiting for us.  They were a young friendly French couple with a baby who must have been moored at Pont de Royal as we hadn’t seen them before.

Locking down together
Just as we came out of the lock, their boat slowed and then stopped.  He came quickly to the back and gestured for us to pass as he had run out of fuel.  We asked if he wanted us to hang around and help but he said no so we carried on past them.  He only put a small amount in as, in very little time, he was catching up with us again and we went down our third and final lock of the day together.

The only other people we saw today were fishermen and there must have been at least a dozen of them so maybe Sunday or election day brings them out.  It never ceases to amaze us how they get their little cars along the banks to find their fishing spots.

We had no idea how this guy got his car here
At the last lock we asked our éclusier if we could start the next set of locks at nine in the morning.  He wasn’t sure as he was due to start his weekend so he said he would drop by later in the evening after talking with his colleagues.

Moored up for the rest of Sunday at Villeneuve-sous-Charigny
True to his word our éclusier pulled up in his van around six o’clock and said everything would be fine for going down the first lock at nine in the morning.  That means an early start for us 😉

On Saturday morning we cruised nine kilometres down five locks and on Sunday afternoon we cruised nine kilometres down three locks.

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