Monday, 5 June 2017

Auxonne/Pontailler/Mantoche/Gray/Savoyeux/Soing/Port sur Soane/Fouchécourt

Friday 26th May
Auxonne PK233.5 to Pontaller-sur-Soane PK251.5
18km/1 lock/2 hours

We went to the market first thing to buy ourselves a cooked chicken and our obligatory baguette.  We left Port Royal. Auxonne around 10am and we had a wonderful trip to Pontailler and there was plenty of space on the steps.  We’ve moored here twice before travelling in both directions and have been lucky enough to find a mooring.  The restaurant near the mooring has always been shut before, but when we went for a stroll we were pleased to find the restaurant open, busy and full of life. It’s a beautiful, hot sunny day so we were able to sit outside under the canopy.

In the evening we had early evening drinks with Peter and Caroline off Lumicona another dutch barge.  We’ve seen them on and off over the past few weeks, so it was lovely to finally get to know them.  They are off up the Canal de Bourgougne et Champagne so we wont see them again for a while.

Saturday 27th May
Pontailler-sur-Soane PK251.5 to Mantoche PK 276
20km/2 locks/3 hrs 30 mins

We left a little too early this morning as we got to the first lock at 8.45am and they don’t open until 9am, even though they are automatic.  But we were able to tie up to a dolphin mooring near to the pulley we have to turn to activate the lock.  While we were waiting for the lock lights to come on at 9am we were informed by a jogger who shouted over to us that there was a problem with the lock and the VNF were on their way out to fix it.  They arrived at 9.15 and we were through by 9.35am so we weren’t delayed too much.  We were moored up at Mantoche by 12 noon.  It’s a lovely mooring, a favourite of ours, very pretty and we were lucky that it was pretty quiet, most boats that moored up tended to just stop for lunch and move on. 

In the afternoon a friend of mine stopped by for a couple of hours on their long journey home from Barcelona. They driven from Avignon and were going to stop at Troyes, but it was still a bit of a detour to come and see us. 
A couple of sunny days spent at Mantoche

BBQ on the go!
Monday 29th May
Mantoche PK 276 to Gray 283
7km/0 locks/35 mins
Leaving Mantoche
There was lots of space on the quay when we arrived at Gray.  It’s a very convenient place to stop as there is a good supermarket nearby and we were able to stock up on heavy items.  Also there is free electric and water.  We didn’t need the water but we made advantage of the electric. 

We enjoyed a couple of days at Gray.  We wanted to go to a pottery shop up in the old part of town to replace a bowl we had bought from them when we were here last and they were closed on Monday, but open Tuesday.  The town looked a little more alive this time around, some of the businesses looked a bit more healthy which was good to see. 
Lots of choice of moorings at Grey

Wednesday 31st May
Gray PK283 to Savoyeux PK 309 (ish)
26km/4 locks/1 tunnel/4 hours

We have only been as far as Gray so now the river is all new territory for us.  The locks are working really well for us, and we’ve enjoyed the fact that they are automated, so we activate it ourselves and we don’t have to inform the VNF when we are moving on as we don’t always know.  It’s also been great not to have too many locks and a river that’s wide and easy to navigate.

We moored up at Savoyeux marina on a very short pontoon.  We had rung up and informed the captianaire that we were 18m long, he seemed happy enough for us to perch on the end of a pontoon with most of our boat sticking out.  We had aimed to go for a walk in the afternoon but we didn’t feel happy leaving the boat so precariously moored as there was strong gusts forecast.  We had also planned to stay 2 nights but we decided to move on after 1 night.

Savoyeux Tunnel entrance

A big easy tunnel to navigate
Stuck on the end of a pontoon, not ideal!

Thursday 1st June
Savoyeux PK309 to Soing PK333
18km/2 locks/2 hrs 15 mins

We had another super mornings cruise and we were pleased to find our intended mooring was vacant.  The wooden pontoon looked a bit rickety but it was fine and it was a beautiful place to moor.  We walked into the nearby town called Soing, mainly to see what the town moorings were like, they are a 3km detour on the river which we’d decided not to take as we’d heard the town moorings were too good.  But the moorings looked fine, but it was busy with cruisers, so I’m sure they were pleased we weren’t there taking up all the space!  There was a small supermarket in the town and a restaurant (closed when we got there), plus a miniature Eiffel Tower!

A quiet mooring at Soing PK 333

Soing village, with mini Eiffel Tower

Friday 2nd June
Soing PK333 to Port sur Soane PK365
21 km/ 5 locks/1 tunnel/3 hours

Another great trip to Port sur Soane.  We had plenty of space on the quay.  We were going to stay two nights but in the evening there were some youths who were threw a stone at a house just by we were moored and it ricochet off the house against our boat.  The youths ran off but it made us feel uneasy so we decided to move on after just one night.

It was amusing to us as we've been hearing cuckoos all the way along the River Soane, and the nearby house must have had a cuckoo clock cuckooing every 30 mins! Small things.......

Lots of space at Port sur Soane
Saturday 3rd June 4
Port sur Soane PK 366 to Fouchécourt PK 381
16km 1 lock/1 hour 10 mins

We had a short trip to Fouchécourt and we were happy to be moored up in a small marina on a floating pontoon, but there is also a large wooden quay we could have moored up on if the marina was full.  The captainaire, Roger, is also the chef at the port restaurant.  He was fully booked for dinner but had space for us for lunch, and very nice it was too, so much so that we decided to book lunch for the Sunday and we stayed two nights.  Late afternoon the thunderstorm that was forecast arrived, not much thunder and lightening but such a viscous wind and heavy rain, it felt like we were in a car wash; our boat looked so clean the next morning!  We were glad that we weren’t underway in the storm; it was so violent.  It then rained steadily nearly all night but we woke up to another sunny day on the Sunday.
Fourchécourt Marina

Luckily we were moored up as we had a tremendous storm

The sun did come back out again
We were introduced to a new aperitif, Lillet, and very nice too!
We even bought a bottle from Roger to make our own cocktails

A lovely mooring, we will be definitely stopping hear again, possibly this year!

Thursday, 25 May 2017

Cruiser For Sale!

Some good friends of ours are reluctantly selling their Cruiser which would be an excellent opportunity for someone to immediately start cruising the french rivers and canals.  It's in excellent condition inside and out and it's being sold by H2O at St Jean de Losne.

These are its details;

Pickmeer 11.5AK (Royal) Motor Cruiser 1996.     11.80m x 3.80m,    Draft 1.1,   Air Draft 2.6

Hull:  Steel
Engine (1):  Perkins 135cv diesel
Hydraulic steering,  Bowthruster,   3 batteries
Erbesbacher heating
480L Fuel Tank,   480L Fresh Water Tank,  750 L Black Water Tank
Stainless Steel Davits
Large After Deck, Outside Steering with Pilot’s Seat, Wooden Storage Seat, BBQ, Canopy, Bimini
Echo Sounder,  Bilge Pump,  Outside Deckwash/Shower
Sleeps 4 (possible 6).  Plenty of headroom
Saloon with Settee (bed), coffee table, comfy armchair
Kitchen with 4-ring hob, fridge, all crockery, cutlery etc
Large dinette (converts into bed)
Bathroom with sink, shower and toilet
Cabin with very large bed, large wardrobe and plenty storage

Here is the link to H2O

Canal du Bourgogne Dijon/Velars/Mouilin Banet/La Bussiere/Fleury/Velars/Dijon/River Soane StJdL/Auxonne

Sunday 7th May
Dijon PK212 to Velars sur Ouche PK202
10km/9 locks/3 hr 35 mins (1 hour delayed at first lock)

When we arrived in Dijon, at our last lock, there was a very helpful eclusier who spoke really good English, and he asked us when we wanted to depart Dijon and we said Sunday ( tomorrow) at 9am.  He said no problem.  So when we arrived at our first lock this morning, there was no sign of a lock keeper and no where to tie up.  So we pulled over the the side and I jumped off the boat and ran up to the lock to see if there was any sign of a lock keeper, or a telephone number to call.  No sign at all of either!  So I then ran back to the lock at Dijon (about 0.75km) to see our friendly eclusier working that lock with another eclusier and a hotel barge was in the lock departing Dijon.  He seemed surprised no one was at that lock for us as he had passed the message on when I had confirmed we were departing at 9am Sunday.  So he drove me back to the lock and he worked the next few locks for us.  We arrived at Velars sur Ouche at 12.30am.

(We have subsequently found out that the telephone number to call is;-
06 82 50 30 10 to contact lock keeper to either book the next mornings lock or if one doesn’t appear even when you have booked one!)

Velars is a really useful mooring as it right by a supermarket and a fuel station.

Monday 8th May
Velars sur Ouche PK212 to Moulin Banet PK189
23km/12 locks/6 hours  

We were moored at Velars within sight of our first lock, so when no lock keeper arrived by 9.10am, I walked up to the lock and found the VNF number to call if there were any problems on a poster.   The man on the end of the line told me “Il arrive” and about 5 minutes later a lock keeper did arrive.  He took us to Pont du Pany lock 38 and said we could moor in the lock for lunch and a lock keeper would be there at 13.00.  By 13.20 no lock keeper had arrived so we phoned our special number and 15 minutes later a different lock keeper arrived.  We were moored up at Moulin Banet by 3.15pm.  It turned out to be a pleasant evening after a grey day.  A large hotel barge arrived and moored up at Moulin Banet for the evening.

Tuesday 9th May
Moulin Banet PK189 to La Bussière PK179.5
9.5km/8 locks/2hrs 45 mins

The weather improved today and we had a lovely trip to La Bussière and we were moored up by 11.45am.  We had a relaxing afternoon and enjoyed a bottle of bubbly in the evening to celebrate my birthday.  The weather was forecast to be a beautiful day tomorrow so we booked a belated birthday lunch at L’Abbaye de la Bussière so that we could eat on their patio overlooking their beautiful grounds.

Two hotel barges arrived in the afternoon on Tuesday; there was just enough room for us all.  There are no notices saying when the hotel barges are arriving but they tend to be mid-week.

We enjoyed a relaxing few days at La Bussière/La Forge mooring; it’s a really beautiful spot.  I love hearing all the birds singing their hearts out, and the odd cuckoo calling.

There are new electric and water bournes installed at the very smart moorings.  There is a hand written note left by some thoughtful boater saying that you can pay at the Café or the Marie.  Kev went to the Marie (town hall) after our lunch at the hotel on Wednesday to be told he needed to go to the café but it was closed Monday until Thursday!  We found out that the owner of the café in La Forge is also the Mayor. When Kev went to the café on Thursday morning, Kev was told to meet him at the Marie at La Bussière at 3pm where we could purchase a card to enable us to use the electric and water. We bought 2kw of electric for 30 euros and 500 litres of water for 6 euros.  When we left on Sunday morning and we had used up all our electric allowance but we had done loads of washing, tumble drying, dishwashering, and used the electric oven to try and use it up! Saying that it did seem rather expensive.

Dressed up smart for our lunch at La Bussiére (although you don't really need to!)

We were there early to make the most of the beautiful place
it did busier!

They are left to roam the grounds, and are very friendly
The ponies came up to our table before we had ordered our lunch and
Kev said to the owner of the hotel "I couldn't eat a whole one!"
Luckily the owner is English so understood what Kev meant!


Sunday 14th May
La Bussière PK 179.5 to Fleury sur Ouche PK197
17.5km/16 locks/6 hrs 50 mins

We had a great trip to Fleury sur Ouche, it was a long day but luckily the thunderstorms that were forecast in the afternoon did not materialize until the evening.  It did rain during the day but only at lunchtime when we were moored up in Moulin Banet Lock 34.

Kev had hoped to be able to watch the F1 highlights that evening but we couldn’t get a TV signal where we had moored.

It really is a beautiful canal

Moored in lock 34 Moulin Banet for lunch
Storm clouds looming

Monday 15th May
Fleury sur Ouche PK197 to Velars sur Ouche PK202.5
5.5km/4 locks/1 hr 20mins

We had a nice short cruise to get to Velars to our favourite spot by the supermarket.  So we did a big shop at the supermarket and we were able to take the shopping trolley right to the boat so perfect for any heavy things we had purchased, wine boxes, milk etc.  We were joined by a hireboat on its way downstream for the evening and a wide beam barge called Avalon arrived going up stream.  It is starting to get a little busier on the canal.

Tuesday 16th May
Velars sur Ouche PK202.5 to Dijon PK212.5
10km/9 locks/3 hrs 30 mins

We were surprised when the hire boat didn’t leave at the same time as us in the morning; we’d booked the first lock for 9am and assumed they would have been asked to lock with us.  But after two locks the eclusiers had realised that we could fit in the lock together so we were asked to wait at lock 48 for the hire boat to join us.  It made sense and we also then had two lady lock keepers to work the locks so it speeded things up, as one of them was particularly slow!  We arrived at Dijon by 12.30.  The quay was empty but by the evening it had filled up.  Millie, a Piper barge with owners John and Gill onboard arrived in the afternoon and we had a couple of evening’s pre dinner drinks together, which was very enjoyable.  They are on their way to DBA Rally in Auxerre.

The new electric/water bournes at Dijon are still not working, nowhere to buy the jetons required.  We tried the Marie and the tourist office in the centre of the city and we were given the telephone number of the captiniere; when we finally got through to him and asked him if the electric points were working yet he said NON! It seems such a shame for the huge investment not to be able to use them and give the port some revenue.

We’ve had some nice walks into the city, it is a lovely place, and we really like it.  I had a lovely run up by the canal to the Lake, we had a lunch in town, which was ok, but not fabulous but the weather was perfect so we were able to sit outside.  Kev also had his haircut at a hairdresser and the owner speaks really good English so no short back and sides this time around!!  I think when Kev asks for not to be cut off to a hairdresser in France who doesn’t speak English, he uses his fingers to give an idea of how little he wants cut off, and they think its how long he wants it to be!!

We have heavy rain today (Friday) and its quite chilly again but it is forecast to be better then for the next three days.  We’ve booked the lock at 9am on Sunday (lets hope the message was passed on this time!) and we will take two days to get to St Jean de Losne arriving on Monday.  We’ve then booked Auxonne marina for Weds/Thursday, to start our trip up the Soane/Petit Soane, once we get past Grey it will be pastures new for us.

Piper barge Milly moored up behind us for a couple of evenings, they are on their way to Auxerre

I didn't know Herons did Yoga!

Sunday 21st May
Dijon PK 212 to Longcourt PK228
16km/14 locks/6.5 hrs inc 1 hour for lunch

We rang VNF yesterday evening just to confirm we were leaving Sunday morning at 9am. We were ready at 9am to depart Dijon, but a hotel barge called Danielle was locked first and then when the lock keepers tried to set the lock for us one of the gates wouldn’t close so they had to call the fire brigade (Pompiers) and a diving team arrived to sort out the problem.  It was a car wheel complete with it's tyre, blocking the gate.  So we finally departed at 11.30am and we had to have lunch in the second lock as they had to go for lunch, so a short mornings cruise!  We shared locks with a lovely New Zealand couple on a new to them, cruiser, called Soltana.  We moored in a shaded mooring at Longcourt.  We just caught up Danielle at Longcourt so it was just as well we set off later from Dijon.   The section of canal  up near Dijon was still quite weedy so we were pleased to be finally past that section to clearer water.
You can just make out the divers in their diving gear

Monday 22nd May
Longcourt PK228 to St Jean De Losne
14km/8 locks/4 hours

We had a great trip to St Jean de Losne and we were lucky enough to get a mooring on the quay again at SJdL
We decided to stay at SJdL until Wednesday morning.  The big hotel ship Avalon Affinity arrived Monday evening and departed around 6.15pm Tuesday with a new set of passengers.  Around 6.30pm a young man with a holdall came rushing over to us while we were sitting on the back deck.  He showed us his phone and an email with an address on Quai National, St Jean de Losne ......we said yes, that’s where he was, he then said the word Avalon Afffinity, and we said it's gone/departed/left here 20 mins ago….he said “Oh my God!!!  Where can I get a taxi?”  So we presumed he was a new crew member joining the ship, we pointed him in the direction of the nearest restaurant on the quay to see if they could help him arrange a taxi.  I do hope he got united with his ship in the end and wasn’t in too much trouble.

Wednesday 24th May
St Jean de Losne PK 215 to Auxonne PK 233.5
18.5km/1 lock/2 hrs 30 mins

We had a fantastic trip to Auxonne.  Beautiful sunny weather, only one lock to negotiate and we were moored up by 11.15am at Port Royal.  John the new harbormaster was very welcoming and we have a brilliant mooring on a very friendly pontoon. 

We had ordered online a SIM card to arrive at Port Royal and it was there waiting for us.  It took us a little while to set up our Ipad with the SIM.  Why is it if you have problems with something not working, on a computer, ipad, iphone, if you switch it off and switch it back on again it solves the problem 9 times of of 10?!!!  We now have 100gb of data each month and already we are pleased with the speed of the connection, hence the update on the blog.

Our one lock of the day, automatic

Arriving at Port Royal, Auxonne

Our view from the back deck over looking the river Soane