Wednesday, 12 July 2017

Epinal/Bouzey/Girancourt/PK103/Thunimont/Pont du Coney/Fontenoy/Selles/Corre

We had a very relaxing, recuperating week at Epinal.  We had mixed weather, which was fine with us as we need the rain.  There are concerns with low water levels all over the French canal system.  We had some huge thunderstorms, with big downpours and we noticed the water level rise a little in the port, which is all good news.  Also the inclement weather discouraged the youths of Epinal to hang out late at night in the park so we enjoyed a nice peaceful time there.  It was also very quiet boat wise, due to the low water levels and this short canal section had been temporarily closed up until very recently.

Lots of space at Epinal port

Storm clouds gathering

There was an American themed weekends at Epinal, good fun but very noisy 
The trucks loved blowing their horns

As we are now returning back along the canal des Vosges I’ll summarize our trip back to Corre.

Monday 3rd July

Epinal to Bouzey PK 92.8
13.5 km/14 locks/2 hours 55 mins

Luckily we only met one boat as we went up the flight of locks at Golbey
The flight of locks all work well except one but a VNF engineer was nearby so helped get the lock back into action

Nice pontoon mooring at Bouzey

A gentleman came and gave us a lettuce from his garden which was very kind

It was a bit hot to walk all the way around this reservoir, maybe next time!  Its just by the Bouzey mooring

Tuesday 4th July
Bouzey PK 92.8 to Giranacourt PK 97.5
5 km/1 lock/55mins

Pete our UK heating engineer came to service our boiler at Girancourt. He does a trip to France every year to service his clients who have come over to France with their barges.  We heard on the canal jungle drums he was near Auxerre servicing a Piper barge boiler, we managed to get him to fit us in at very short notice.

Wednesday 5th July
Girancourt PL 97.5 to PK 103
6.5km/7 locks/ 1 hour 50 mins

This mooring was a lovely peaceful mooring, but no TV, mobile or internet signal.  First time we’ve been totally off grid!  Weather is back to being very hot again.

A very peaceful mooring, very hot though!

Thursday 6th July

PK 103 to Thunimont PK 111.2
10km/16 locks/5 hours 45 mins

We left second after a cruiser that was also moored at PK103, which meant all the locks were against us and one lock didn’t want to open its gates to let us in and we had to wait almost an hour for the VNF to come and fix it. I had got off the boat when we first had the problem, as it so often happens there was no mooring to tie up to before the lock and it was a little shallow, so Kev brought the bow in so I could jump off the boat.  I tried to rattle the lock gates to get them to open to no avail so I then called the VNF via the intercom at the lock, and I was told someone would come tout de suite.  But we were still waiting 45 mins later with Kev floating around.  So Kev got off the boat while I held it with a rope and he went and gave the sensor on the lock gate a little nudge with his foot and suddenly the gates went into action and opened for us.  We wish he’d done it sooner!!  He obviously knew where to kick it, rather than me randomly trying to make it work!  We scraped the bottom a little as we moved away from the side of the canal, to go into the lock.  Not a nice sound hearing the propeller ping on the bottom of the canal.
Kev hovered around for over 40 mins waiting for the VNF to arrive to fix the lock

Our mooring we had wanted to stop at was taken up by the cruiser that left before us this morning so we carried on to PK 111.2 a not very pretty mooring but adequate.   We were shattered as it was another very hot day and we’d not stopped for lunch, so we were very tired and hungry.   A sailboat moored alongside us for the night as they were struggling with depth with their 1.6m draft, (we are 0.9m).  They had sailed their boat across from USA so made our trip across the channel seem rather lame!!
We helped out a sailboat as the draught for them was too shallow to moor by the quay
so they moored alongside us

A sad derelict industrial building

Friday 7th July
PK11.2 Thunimont to PK Pont du Coney PK 119
6km/1 drawbridge/5 locks/1 hour 15 mins

We had a simple trip to Pont du Coney (Bains les Bains) and we were in time to have lunch back at the italian restaurant at the mooring.
A lovely mooring Port du Coney (Bain les Bains)
Saturday 8th July
Pont du Coney PK 119 to Fontenoy le Chateau PK 125.4
5.5km/6 locks/2 hours

We enjoyed out trip to Fontenoy and there was plenty of space for us at the large port.  We stayed 2 nights at Fontenoy as the forecast wasn’t good for the Sunday.  We enjoyed a big thunderstorm Saturday night.  Well I did, Kev slept all the way through it!

Lots of space here at Fontenoy

Monday 10th July
Fontenoy le Chateau PK 125.4 to Selles PK 137.5
12km/7 locks/3 hours 15 mins

Another easy trip, it really is a beautiful canal. 

An example of some the lovely views on this canal, a straight bit!

Lots of trees and most of the the time a very smart cycle way which is extremely well used.  We met one lady who had cycled all the way from Spain!

A lock wall, looks like green velvet!

So many gorgeous views I just keep clicking the camera

Tuesday 11th July
Selles PK 137.5 to Corre PK 147
10.5 km/ 4 locks/ 2 hours

We decided to moor back at the town mooring even though its not that pretty.  The canal sides are bulging out and the grass (stinging nettles) are overgrown with large piles of dog poo, and we are charged 15 euros for the pleasure!!  We decided to only stay one night.  We walked to the supermarket to top up supplies and we take a look at the Marina visitor mooring below lock 46 and decide we will move there on Wednesday morning.

Wednesday 12th July
Corre to Corre marina visitor pontoon
0.5 km/1 lock/ 30 mins

This is a much nicer spot to moor on a very smart pontoon, 18 euros a night and no dog poo!!   We have lunch at the marina restaurant and very tasty it was too.  We decided to stay at Corre today mainly because it was forecast to rain a lot today and it has, so good decision!
A great visitor pontoon at the marina, all brand new

Very nice marina at Corre

Notice the lake to to left of the canal, full of water this was when we went past beginning of June

The same view as we came back beginning of July now empty of water,
I hope we do get a good lot of rain to help the water shortage here in France

Thursday, 29 June 2017

Epinal/Nomexy/Charmes/Richardménil/Nancy/lock 10/Richardménil/PK43/Charmes/Epinal

Friday 16th June
Epinal to Nomexy PK71
15km/10 locks/4 hours 45 mins

We left Epinal at 8.15am to get to the first lock just before 9am. At 10am we had just gone past what looked like a gravel depot when we both thought “I wonder if there are commercials working on this section of the canal?” when a few minutes later we see one coming towards us!  Luckily it is on a wide section of the canal.  We came across two more fully laden commercial barges.  They are very strange looking as the skipper sits in a wheelhouse at the front of the barge, and as its fully laden it sits very low in the water.
The first commercial we come across

We saw this one coming up the lock so we decided to tie up to a fence and lamp post until it went past,
our worst nightmare would to damage our propeller in a shallow section,
the commercial barges take no prisoners!

The third barge we came across, ominously waiting for us to come out of the lock

This is where the commercial barges load up PK76

We decide to moor up at Nomexy as we had been recommended to go and see the fortress at Châtel-sur-Moselle. We wait until 3.30pm to walk over to Châtel-sur-Moselle to join the 4pm tour.  The underground rooms are supposed to be worth seeing but we were told when we got there that they weren’t running English speaking tours as the tour guide had an injury to her leg and we weren’t allowed to go down on our own.  

We had read on the DBA mooring guide that the mooring can be noisy with youths on motorbikes and mopeds but we suffered no annoying problems, and it was nice to see groups of people playing boules very late into the evening. 

A nice shady mooring at Nomexy

Saturday 17th June
Nomexy PK71 to Charmes PK61
10km/6 locks/2.5 hours

We had a nice easy cruise to Charmes.  It is a favourable mooring in the sense that it has good facilities, water and electric but it is rather crowded with camper vans, overlooking the canal, but once we had moored we got used to them being so close to us.  We felt bad about spoiling their view of the canal. 


Not so Charmes!

A Storks nest made up for the crowded camper van park
It was very close to our mooring so we could hear the noises the stork made with its beak
when its mate returned to the nest

It was very noisy at night with youths shouting and singing nearby until the early hours of the morning.  It is very hot at the moment so the nights are warm and we have the skylights open, so noise does travel. 

Even though it was noisy Saturday night we decided to stay on at Charmes.  It was going to be a hot, windy day on Sunday, plus we had heard that two commercials would be coming up the canal so we’d thought we’d give them a wide berth!!  I know we are always looking out for large barges coming in the opposite direction, but its horrible knowing there is one definitely coming our way!  Even worse when you know there is going to be two of them!

A good decision to stay on at Charmes, two of these came through moving quite fast

Monday 19th June
Charmes PK61 to Richardménil PK30
31km/15 locks/7 hours

We had a very long, very hot day today to make up for being so lazy yesterday!   We had an easy trip to Richardménil and arrived to a busy mooring at just before 4pm.  It is a strange mooring as the bollards are set quite a way back from the side of the canal but there isn’t any space to walk so you have to step over everyone’s ropes.  We were also moored at the end of the quay, no view and it felt very claustrophobic.  The town of claustrophobic is situated up on a hill, it was far too hot and we were far too tired to explore.  The heat wave has really set in. 
A busy mooring at Richardménil, we were moored in the far distance
Tuesday 20th June
Richardménil to Nancy
18km/16 locks/7 hours aprox

We had another very long day and it was so, so hot.  We left the Vosges Canal to join the Nancy Branch Canal. This short canal has 18 locks over 12 km.  It links the valley of the Meuthe with that of the Moselle.  We controlled the locks with the same zapper we’ve been using on the Vosges canal.  The first 5 locks were going up and they were awkward as the bollards are quite widely spaced so we used just a bow rope and the engine.  Something we personally aren’t keen on doing, as we have heard of the bow rope failing.  We know how easily a rope slices when under tension when we’ve had to cut a trapped rope going down in a lock.  You just touch it with a sharp knife and bam, its cut through!  The remaining 13 locks are all down, 10 of them are all one after the other over a very short distance. 

We caught up with another boat (a small cruiser) up at lock no.1 of the group of 10 locks as they had a problem with a lock not working, so we shared the next 13 locks with them until we got to the end of the canal.  Bet they groaned when they saw us coming as I am sure we slowed them down a little, and it was such a hot day. 

We were moored up at Nancy by 4pm.  We were almost feeling ill it was so hot and we had no shade where we were moored.  We waited until it was a bit cooler to go and have dinner at Stanislas Square, but the heat and humidity was still there until late in the evening. 

There have been signs/talk that there could be problems on the waterways due to lack of water, so we decided that we would leave the exploring of the Canal de la Marne au Rhin towards Strasbourg for another year and we will make our way slowly back to Roanne, making a detour down the river Saone to Lyon.

We felt really bad that we didn’t stay longer at Nancy, but the heat wave made it so uncomfortable and being in a city environment seemed to make it worse.  We will be back and hopefully we will spend longer there exploring the city.
We were a little lonely moored on this side of the canal at Nancy

Stanislas Square was very impressive

Still 38.4C at 9.40pm in our wheelhouse

Wednesday 21st June
Nancy PK164 to mooring on Nancy Branch before lock 10

We decided to stop at a mooring by a supermarket after lock 26.  We were able to take the trolley to the boat so we bought loads more bottled water, as we’ve been drinking at least 4 x 1.5L bottles a day.

It was due to be another scorcher so we only went through 3 of the locks on the Nancy Branch canal and moored by noon at a lovely, shady spot just before the flight of 10 locks. 
So different from our mooring at Nancy
Thursday 22nd June
Lock 10 to Richardménil PK 30
8km/15 locks/4hrs 15mins

It was another incredibly hot day.  We travelled up the 10 locks in just over 2 hours, all working perfectly.  
You can see the next lock.  They work in a chain so as you go through one lock, the next lock is getting prepared
And yet another lock ahead!

When we came out of the Nancy Branch canal to turn left onto the Vosges Canal, a commercial was just going past, so it ends up being in front of us.  It is moving so slowly, it takes us yonks just to travel the 1km to Richardménil.  It makes our mind up about mooring there again as we would take ages following this slow barge.  

Bad timing as we leave the Nancy Branch canal as this commercial is just going past
we follow it for 1km, painfully slow

Its only 1pm so we decide to walk into the town to find a boulangerie.  Bad decision!  It’s a very steep hill, on a very hot day, the boulangerie is closed and the supermarket is right at the end of the town.  As we are walking there we notice a huge storm heading our way, it was forecast so it wasn’t a complete surprise.  But we realise we’ve left our hatches open, so I run back to the boat whilst Kev continues to find the supermarket.  I get back in time and actually the storm just misses us, probably only by a few miles.  Kev came back with a very flushed face, overheated from the long walk but with a baguette in hand.

We get hooked up to the electric and have our air conditioning on to cool our bedroom down before going to bed.  Bliss, a cool room to sleep in!
We preferred this spot at Richardménil, we had more of a view

Friday 23rd June
Richardménil PK30 to PK 43
13km/8 locks/ 2hrs 45 mins

We have a lovely cruise to moor up in a very quiet spot, shaded again by trees, no other boat moored here.  A bit different to Richardménil, which both times has been jam packed full of boats.
A peaceful mooring at PK43
Saturday 24th June
PK43 to Charmes PK60.5
17.5km/10 locks/4 hours

A pretty section of the canal

Another great cruise to Charmes where we decide to moor back at the same spot as before.  I have a little medical worry, which we decide it would be good to get some medical advice on, so being moored in a town rather than in the middle of nowhere was preferable.  We visit the local pharmacy and there was an incredibly helpful lady who rang a emergency telephone number and arranges for me to see a local Dr later that day and she also then helps us book a taxi to get there as he is in the next town.

I see the Dr, who didn’t speak any Englsih, so with Google translate and my limited French I manage to have a consultation and get a prescription for some antibiotics.

Sunday 25th June
Charmes PK60.5 to Epinal
25km/16km/6 hours

We had a long trip, all our 16 locks were going up, but we are very slick with them and they all work well.  We wanted to leave on Sunday and get through the section of canal where the gravel commercial barges work PK76 to PK81 as we knew they didn’t work at the weekend.  We weren't sure if we could moor up in Epinal as we had heard the embranchment was closed due to low water levels.  But when we got to the locks near to the turn off we asked a VNF man if it was open and he surprised us by saying yes it was.  So we were moored up by 3pm.  Lots of space to moor, which was fab.  The heat wave is breaking and there are storms forecast over the next few days.

My medical concern hadn’t been helped by the antibiotic I was given on Saturday so on Monday we went off to the hospital in Epinal and after spending the morning there being very well looked after, I came away with another prescription for more antibiotics, 5 days worth this time, so hopefully these will work.  We are staying here in Epinal until we are happy that I’m better and also the forecast isn’t good so we probably wouldn’t have been travelling anyway.  We have had some big thunderstorms and heavy rain, so hopefully this will alleviate some of the water level concerns on the canals.

A quieter Epinal port