Tuesday 30 April 2019

Gannay-sur-Loire (how to get rid of your wife)

Monday night mooring

Karen & Buddy went for an early run on Monday morning so that we could lock down onto the Loire by our allotted time of 10.00am.  The early morning had started foggy which then cleared to a beautiful blue sky but by the time we left the clouds had rolled in again.  The clouds stayed with us most of the day but luckily it didn’t rain but it did feel unseasonably cold.

Setting off for the Loire past the permanent boats at Saint-Lèger-des-Vignes
Once we had gone down the lock it was only a couple of hundred metres to the river and, fortunately, it looked calm.  It had been closed for a couple of days because of recent rainfall and is one of those rivers that rises and falls very quickly; we certainly wouldn’t have risked it on Sunday if it had been open.

The River Aron joining the Loire from the left (Decize sits between the two rivers)
Looking back to Saint-Lèger-des-Vignes, our home for the last couple of days
It wasn’t too long before we had to leave the river and make our way onto the Canal Latéral à la Loire.  This canal is 200km long and links the Canal de Briare in the north (at Briare) to the Canal du Centre in the south (at Digoin).  It was opened in 1838 and runs parallel to the Loire for its length, hence its name.  The Loire had been used for navigation but was constantly plagued by silting and shifting sandbanks, thus the need for the canal.

Approaching the lock to take us onto the Canal Latéral à la Loire
We are joining it about 2/3rds of the way down with only 70km to go until we hit Digoin and join the Canal du Centre.  The lock off the river was an automatic one and Karen pulled the rope to set the operation in motion.

Getting ready to pull the cord
You can’t tell from the picture above but there was quite a flow on from the river and I was fighting to keep the front end away from the side – one of those occasions where bow thrusters would have made things easier.  It wasn’t long before the lock was empty, and the gates opened for us.

About to feel safe getting off the river
We soon got the front and back ropes looped around the mooring poles (it was one of those locks that didn’t have ladders to get up to the bollards) and then it was time to work out how to set the next operation in progress.

Secured securely
I got on the roof and walked down to the blue pole which has to be lifted to get the gates to close and to start filling the lock.

Pulling the pole upwards
Nothing happened for ages and in the end,  I had to lift it up and down a few times.  Maybe it just needed a more forceful push.

Wondering what was going on
Once we were up and out of the lock, we were in the port which looked like it was still full of overwintering boats, so that’s why we haven’t seen many boats on the move yet

So that’s why we haven’t seen many boats yet
 At the other end of the port was another automatic lock and the lights were set on red.  As soon as Karen pulled the cord, the lights changed to a single red and green meaning the lock was being set.  When it was nearly ready an orange light started flashing too.

Red & green with orange flashing mean almost there
Once the lock was empty and the gates opened then just the green light was left on and in we went.

As we came out of the lock we were on the Canal Latéral à la Loire proper and we turned left to head for Digion.

The junction where we headed south
As we were going uphill it was back to the procedure where Karen secures the line at the front as we go into the lock and I hold the boat into the side with the engine as we go up.

Karen getting back into the swing of hooking her loop over the lock bollard
The locks are further apart on this canal compared to those we’ve been used to for the last four weeks.  Probably all the more reason to have built a lock keeper’s cottage at each lock.  They are all manned so we are going to have to continue making arrangements with the éclusiers each day we want to cruise. Once again, these cottages were a different style and also had larger name plates with more information on:

Lovely log pile at one of the lock cottages
When we came out of one lock, we found two boats waiting for us and then a bit further on we passed another couple of boats.  It suddenly felt like things were getting busy as four boats in one day had been unheard of 😉

Beautiful Dutch barge waiting for us
Another difference we noticed with this canal was that the bridge arches were iron rather than stone and consequently were nearly as wide as the cut itself.

Karen driving under one of the iron bridges
We arrived at Gannay-sur-Loire at mid-afternoon, moored up next to a lavoir and went for a bike ride.

Our lavoir
During the cruise Karen had met an Italian who was on an extended bike ride.  His wife had died nearly a year ago and for the last six months he had been cycling around Europe dropping off some of her ashes at each place they had wanted to visit.  He had started from Rome and was now on his way back there.  She suspected he was godly as he had visited Lourdes and been on the Camino de Santaigo.  When we moored up, he was siting on one of the picnic benches having availed himself of the boaters’ showers.

We cycled through Gannay-sur-Loire, and as we are getting used to, there was no one around.  In the centre was an odd monument which is actually the remains of a tree.  In the early 1600s a guy called Sully initiated the planting of trees alongside the Moulins to Nevers road.  This was one of the last surviving trees but was split in tow by a trailer that had come away from a lorry in October 2010.

The tree of Sull planted in 1620

Heading out the other side of town we found a garden centre and went for a wander around.  We couldn't believe the number of people that were there and think we have solved where all the French go during the day.

When we got back to the boat, several barges had moored up around us; all were English couples who had come out of Roanne afetr overwintering there and were now a few days into their summer cruising.

The first mooring restrictions we have seen
On Monday we cruised 18 km through seven locks.  We will be cruising on Tuesday but have to stay put on Wednesday as it’s Mayday not even éclusiers will be at work.

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