Wednesday 15 May 2019

Longecourt-en-Plaine (and the sheared alternator bolt)

Approaching St-Jean-de-Losne, our stop for Monday night
We were ready to leave by 9.30 on Monday morning under glorious blue skies.  We were only 1/2km below the next lock so I rang the éclusier and told him we would be there in ten minutes.  As we had paid €18 for our overnight mooring, we had made sure we were topped up with water and had had extra long showers before we left.

It was still very windy and try as we might we couldn’t turn right getting off our pontoon.  I know the river flow meant we should turn left and then spin the boat, but I felt the flow was low as we were off the river.  In the end we had to let the wind take us left and then we joined the Saône the other side of an island and with a good width of water managed to spin around and turn right towards the lock.  It wasn’t so windy when this picture was taken on Sunday evening, but you can see the island we had to go around in order to turn right.

Sure enough as we got near the lock the lights were indicating it was under preparation and by the time we were nearly there, the gates opened, the lights went green and in we went.  We had the whole lock to ourselves and felt very small.

Just room for little old us
We moored up about 40 metres in, feeling that another 160 metres or so in front should keep us well away from any turbulence as we went up 😊 Karen used the step bollards, managing to loop on at the first attempt at each step so we were rather pleased with ourselves as we left, waving to the éclusier high up in his control tower.

After coming out of the lock there was a 10-kilometre cut which really did cut off an awful lot of the river.  Mind you the wind was whipping down the cut and I was starting to get a bit concerned and really wondering if we should have ventured out.  However, the boat performed well and as we didn’t meet any big commercials, we became more relaxed.

Heading into the cut with the start of white horses
We came up to a commercial port and once we were passed felt even more comfortable that there would now be less chance of meeting big boats as we were heading upstream.

It looked like the boats were being loaded with grain
Having been confident that it would be shorts and tee-shirts all day I soon changed my mind as the wind was so strong.  Also, water was being whipped up and splashing Buddy and us at the back.  Needless to say, I chickened out and it was on with jeans and a waterproof jacket.

Windswept even though the water looks calmer
After joining the river again we passed some more commercials moored up, but these weren’t as long as the previous one
Our next canal, the Canal de Bourgogne, joins the river just before the town of St-Jean-de-Losne.  As we were planning on staying in St-Jean-de-Losne we carried on past the canal entrance to find a mooring in town.

The start/end of the Canal de Bourgogne

Approaching St-Jean-de-Losne, hoping to find somewhere to moor
Soon after passing the entrance to the canal we saw a fuel point.  This was the first one we have seen on the water side since we have been here – that’s 425 km and 198 locks ago!

The prices didn’t look too bad either, just 10 cents a litre more than the supermarkets we have been using
We found a free mooring with a three-day limit and were soon moored up in a line with several other boats.  Buddy was glad to be off the water, he doesn’t seem to like rivers either and soon settled down, stretching out on the warm  concrete steps.

Our Monday night mooring

For once, we were in a town where the bars and restaurants were open and had customers
The wind eased a bit over lunch, so we were able to sit on the steps to eat ours.  It didn’t abate for long, but it didn’t stop us going for a walk around the old town during the afternoon. 

Ornate roof on the church
Later on, we went for a bike ride up the beginning of the Canal de Bourgogne and went through three really large boat yard/marinas.

All these boats seemed to be for sale
We saw an éclusier working on a sluice, so we stopped and arranged to come up the first lock at 10 on Tuesday morning.  The wind was really gusting again, and we found it quite difficult cycling along the towpath into it.

We felt shattered when we got home and knew it must be the wind as we hadn’t had a particularly long or strenuous day.  Even Buddy seemed glad to collapse on his bed.  During the day we had cruised 15 kms up one lock.

During the night, the river was as still as a proverbial mill pond but by about 6 o’clock on Tuesday morning we could hear the wind was beginning to get up.  We decided we would still get off the river and onto the Canal de Bourgogne however bad the winds were.  We would then feel more in control at least.

As we were getting ready to leave, a guy in a nice proper old Dutch barge came in to moor behind us.  I took a bow line from him and helped him moor up.  I had noticed he had been at the fuel station before coming in to moor and asked him if it was all OK as he didn’t seem to be there long.  Typically, as it was Tuesday, it was closed on Tuesdays.  We would have to wait until we get to Dijon but at least we have plenty of diesel on board.

As we left, the wind was getting quite gusty and we were glad to be turning off the river onto what we hoped would be calmer waters.  There was another boat hovering at the lock entrance, so we nosed carefully up to them to ask how long they were to see if we could go in together.  All was fine and in we went.

Behind a Kiwi and an Aussie at the first lock of the day
It was a deepish lock and by the time Karen had got to the top of the lock ladder the wind had caught the boat and we were heading for the other side of the lock.  Once we were pinned against the side by the wind, I went to the other end of the boat to take Karen’s line from her and then poled it back up to her once she had crossed to the other side.

We are now on the Canal de Bourgogne which is our last canal before completing our round trip back to Migennes where we started from at the end of March.  The locks on this canal are all manned and each éclusier takes you through a few locks before handing you over to the next one.  The canal is 242 kilometres long and we will have to go through 189 locks before we get back to Migennes. 

The first 27 kilometres from the Saône are in a dead straight cut across the Dijon plain all the way into Dijon.  We plan to take two or three days getting to Dijon where we hope to stay for a rest day or two.

After sharing the first lock, we were on our own for the remaining locks, the other boat was pulling into the boat yard to have some maintenance.  We were happy with that as there wasn’t much room in the lock and with the other boat being plastic it adds a bit of stress when it was windy anyway.

Many of the locks were feisty so we made sure we were moored at the back
We soon got used to the never-ending straight cut but were still struggling against the wind at every exposed section.

The flag shows wind blowing perpendicularly to us
As the locks were manned, we were back to having an enforced stop for lunch at midday which was fine as we needed to get out of the sun (and the wind) for a while.

Wild mooring for lunch
In the first lock after lunch I heard an alternator belt slipping and it quickly became obviously completely loose.  I was hoping it wasn’t a broken belt – we had to replace one at the end of last year in the middle of the Wigan flight on the Leeds & Liverpool canal.  After mooring up with a great deal of difficulty in the wind I found that the head of a bolt holding one of the alternators had sheared off and the bolt had worked loose.  Fortunately, I had a spare bolt and soon got things sorted but not without burning myself a few times on the hot engine.

Getting away again wasn’t easy as, whenever we released one end of the boat, the other would blow across the cut and neither of us were strong enough to hold the centre line against the wind.  In the end I had to leave Karen on the bank to remove the pins and she walked down to meet me at the next lock with them.

The lock cottages on this canal are the smallest we have seen so far:

This one had an extension
The lock name plates are different to others we have seen before; as well as the name and number they also show the distance to the next major town in each direction:

Pretty white wisteria at one of the locks
We found a sheltered spot to wild moor and spent most of the afternoon pottering around the boat.  Karen spent some time tending her plants that had taken a battering in the wind and also potted up some more summer plants.  The nasturtiums are finally potted out and we’re glad the seedlings hadn’t been damaged in the wind.

Moored for the day at Longecourt-en-Plaine
I had a good go at clearing out the cratch and putting up our herb table.  We tend to grow several of our herbs in the cratch in the summer as we have found it quite successful over the years.

Poor old Buddy was finding it too hot and just lay in any bit of shade he could find. 

Spot the dog
Later on, we walked into Longecourt-en-Plaine to see if there were any bars but there seemed to be no commerce at all.  We did find a post box (not VR of course) and posted some birthday cards.

The château in the village was impressive and even had a moat around it, but the exterior definitely needed some love and attention.

A little river runs through the village making for quite pleasant walks and we even found our village favourite, a lavoir.

  Shady veranda

  We try to find at least one lavoir in every village
To show you how straight the cut is for the 27 km up to Dijon here is a shot from the bridge into the village.  We are the little dot on the left beyond the grain store and the fishermen's cars.

Our straight mooring…
…and this is looking the other way to the lock in the distance
When we returned, we found what we thought was our first black veined white of the year sunning itself by the boat, but it would only let us see the undersides.  Looking at the pictures I took I realised it wasn’t a black veined white and, after consultation with French lepidoptera experts, it has been identified as a black veined moth.

Black veined moth
On Tuesday we cruised 14 kilometres up seven locks and are hoping the wind dies down soon.

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