|What’s going on here then?|
Although we still haven’t had much rain, the weather has been pretty grey and dismal over the last week or so, consequently it’s been a pleasant change to have a couple of bright, sunny and brisk days.
Other than our usual walks we spent most of the day pottering around the port on Friday. Saturday, on the other hand, seemed to be a full-on day looking back on it. It started with a partly successful trip to a retail park. I had used Guy’s battery-operated pump to empty our jerry cans into the fuel tank the other day and had been very impressed with it. Brian, a fellow narrowboater, had been in touch saying he had found them in the UK and had sent me a link. Our first stop at the retail park was at a bricolage to compare prices. They were a lot cheaper than in the UK, so I bought one and also extended the very short list of items that are cheaper in France: baguettes, alcohol and now battery-operated liquid pumps.
Our abortive attempt at replacing the empty gas bottle continued. We filled the car up with diesel and as we paid, we asked to exchange our gas bottle. As soon as the girl saw it, she said she couldn’t exchange it. I think we’re now beginning to understand why it came with only a €2 deposit. The next step will be to take it to a garage we know in Épernay where we think they’re a bit laxer, failing that we will have to buy a new one. We will then take the troublesome one and dump it at the déchetterie when we dispose of all the old engine oil currently stored in the engine bay.
We will be going to Épernay on Monday for a gig and one of our jobs was to pick up the tickets. I forgot to mention that when we had the day of everything going wrong, I had also had a problem with the tickets. Having purchased them online I had to go to a billetterie to pick them up. The Leclerc store had one of these places but I had forgotten to take id with me so they wouldn’t hand them over. Another example of the polarisation of French bureaucracy: an email and the card used to make the purchase were not enough. Anyway, apart from having to join a queue of a couple of dozen people, it all went OK this time.
|Ready for Monday night|
It was beginning to get dusk when we returned from our afternoon walk and as we got back to the port we could see a crowd of people standing at the side of the water and also, what looked like a pompier frogman standing on the front of the girls’ boat. The girls were out shopping so we were a little concerned what was going on. Ardon had seen us returning and came out to tell us that a yacht had gone past the moorings and, despite her shouted warnings, had gone aground in the ‘no go’ area the other side.
It turned out to be three lovely Dutch guys who run a scuba diving school and were on their way south to Montpelier for the winter. Corne, the guy on the girls’ boat, had donned his frogsuit and made his way to the pontoons with an extended rope and was trying to pull the yacht free. He asked if we would help him and, of course, we agreed. We suggested that rather than loads of us clambering all over the girls’ boat that it would be a lot easier to use our boat to drag them off. It took a while to get my head together as to what to do as we haven’t moved for over a fortnight. Not only did I have to remember the cruising hardware (I have set off without the tiller arm in the past ☹) I had to make sure the water hose and electricity cables were disconnected. It’s our sort of luck that when doing something out of the ordinary that something goes wrong; I could quite easily have set off with the hose and cable still attached.
As I turned across the front of Puddleduck, Karen went to the front and took the line from Corne – that’s what’s going on in the top picture. We gently eased over to them as we didn’t want to run aground too. Not that there was much chance of that as their keel was 1.7 metres deep and our draught is about a metre less.
|Karen making the lines fast|
The two guys left on the boat were most unconcerned and one of them was even filming the whole operation as you can see in the picture above. We found out later that they have a YouTube channel but as neither of us have really used YouTube we don’t really know what that means. We had to run the engine hard to shift them, but in the end we were moving backwards and they were free to turn around and moor up for the night.
|Towing Betsy backwards|
By this time the girls had returned, and we were back into the usual banter of them being glad we’ve decided to move elsewhere and us saying we couldn’t stand being moored next to such a large boat etc.
|Corne under instruction from Karen as Buddy & I reversed back onto our pontoon|
After an early dinner Gorete came around and we went off to our first ice hockey match. Fortunately, it’s one of those sports that have very few rules, so we had read up about it before going. Mind you, some of you may know that we used to run an online sports arbitrage business, so we do know things about different sports around the world, such as their rules and team and league names. Ice hockey is also billed as one of the most exciting sports to watch and, although we (Châlons) lost it was indeed great fun and something we would do again. Final score was Evry-Viry (a Paris suburb) 8, Châlons-en-Champagne 3 and, to be fair the superior team won. Our goalie was distraught at the end and had to be comforted by his team mates.
The father in the family in front of us was playing in the game and was sent to the sin bin at one point. The sin bin was just below us and his young daughter was distraught at seeing him locked away!
|The daughter, happy before her father was sent away for two minutes|