Tuesday 29 October 2019

Sillery (Karen down a hole)

It was raining when we got up on Sunday and it was still raining once the Wales – South Africa match had finished so it was on with our wet weather gear for a walk.  We walked out of Reims along the canal and, although Sunday is traditional Sunday family walk day, only committed runners and dog walkers had ventured out.

What is Karen doing here?
At the third lock Karen said she was going to check something and disappeared through a gate.  The locks through the town are gated and fenced off from the general public but she had gone through the gate and was on the other side of the lock before I realised she was gone.

Yes, that’s Karen laying on the ground in the picture above.  She had gone to check that the water tap was working in the lock, so we knew whether or not to stop on our way through.  The tap wasn’t working so she had gone into a manhole and turned a stopcock on.

Just to prove it was her
She checked the tap again and it was now working so it was back into the manhole to turn the stopcock off again.

At one point we turned away from the canal and found the River Vesle.  After walking along its banks for a while we came across a sign leading us to the old baths of the three rivers.

Thousands of Remoises learnt to swim here
It turned out that these were public baths closed down in 1965 on the banks of an island in the river.  As there is water each side of the island and also along the cut a short distance away, we assume that was the derivation of the name.

The bathing pool today
The sluices at the far end would have been closed to create water deep enough for swimming in.

A picture of the baths from 1960
Although the rain held off for much of the afternoon it felt cold and damp on the boat, so we lit the stove for the first time this winter.  Buddy soon remembered that he could get really hot if he stood in front of it.  The trouble is he prefers to lie down to sleep so he ends up dragging himself to his bed.  Don’t worry, his bed is only a metre or so from the stove anyway!

View of the runners and a new sign inviting Reims residents to join the rowing club
Monday was a lovely bright and sunny day but had a definite autumnal feel to it; perfect for cruising.  After Karen returned from her morning run, we popped into town for a few things and then got ready to leave.  Once we were ready, we checked for boats and could see there was a commercial in the distance coming our way.  As he had priority, we decided to change plans and have an early lunch and set off afterwards.

Our weekend mooring in Reims

As we were moored just below the bottom of the three locks in Reims, we had to get the boat straight over to the other side of the cut to twist the pole.  With no wind this was an easy operation but things didn’t go so well in the lock.  It was one of those locks that has a really strong overspill that you have to judge carefully so you don’t end up hitting the lock side.  We got into the lock OK but no amount of pushing the operating rod would set the gates closing.  There was nothing for it but to ring the canal control centre and I was told an éclusier would be with us soon. 

When this has happened before we have never waited for long before help arrived.  After 20 minutes nobody had turned up, so I rang again.  After another 15 minutes we decided to reverse out of the lock and go back to the mooring we had just left.  As we came out of the lock, we saw the light was still on green so it probably hadn’t recognised us as we had gone in.  We went back in again with Karen dancing and waving her arms about at the front and me doing likewise on the back.  This seemed to have triggered the sensor as when we pushed the operating rod this time, the gates started closing.

While the gates were closing an éclusier popped his head over the edge and asked if we were OK now so I explained that we had reversed out and come back in again.  He seemed to understand me and off he went.  It always makes us laugh that as soon as things look like they’re working then they are off.  We rather imagined that they would prefer to wait until we were safely through before leaving.

Following Karen's check of the water situation at the one of the locks yesterday, we stopped to fill up on the way through.  As we used the wide bore hose supplied by VNF and there was also a good pressure it took no time to fill up and we were soon on our way again.

We were heading for the port at Sillery for the night as there were no other places to moor unless we went a lot further.  Although the port was completely full of winter moorers, we knew there was a Chalkhill Blue sized spot that we could get on, in front of a boat owned by a French couple that we got talking with last time we were there. 

Approaching Sillery it seemed that everyone was out walking along the towpath.  They were probably making up for not being able to go out for their Sunday walk because of the rain.  It did make us think that everyone in Sillery must be retired as there were so many people out enjoying the bright sunny weather.

Squeezed in behind the first line of boats at the port in Sillery
We had to tie the back end of the boat to a boulder but as the cut was so wide at the port we felt safe from the wake of passing commercials.  Coupled with that they would be travelling slowly as we were near a lock.  In fact, one came through just after we moored and we hardly felt it at all.

On Monday we cruised ten kilometres up four locks.

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