Friday, 26 July 2013

Summer at last

 The Dutch Barge association, had planned a rally in Dijon, and as new members we joined in the fun. The May floods and canal closures had caused havoc with the plans of many of those booked to attend, Despite the low turn out the sun shone and we made many new friends.
                                  DBA rally,15 of the planned 36 boats turned up in Dijon

Your writer entered the rowing race, and showed the flag. Foils not permitted.
From Dijon we cruised the final few kilometres south to St Jean de Losne where we joined the Soane river. Decision time, turn left for Eastern France or right for the Med. We were enjoying cruising this region of France so left it was to be, upstream. 
         The true start of Summer, and long warm evenings. The river Soane at St Jean de Losne 

Cruising the Soane reminded us of the upper reaches of the Thames river, just a different history.
At Auxonne, Napoleon Bonaparte did his military training. Thousands of cannon were cast here.

                                         Napoleon dominates the town square in Auxonne.

At the upper navigable limit of the Soane we joined the Vosges canal to climb another hill. Here we were given a remote control for the locks. This waterway was a delight to cruise, some days only seeing one or two other boats.

                      Automatic locks on the Vosges canal, and our own remote control.

The Vosges canal, almost to ourselves.
At Epinal the canal drops steeply down to the Moselle river, and large commercial barges ply from here up to eastern Europe, we are in a new region.

Grown up locks and barges on the Moselle river.
Built to fit!
All too soon we arrive in Nancy, mid July and time to hand over Antiope to our partners.
We have experienced a season of extreme weather, but we have been enchanted by France and cannot wait to get back aboard Antiope, to continue the adventure. 
                                                          Bastille day parade Nancy

Old town gateway, Nancy
                                   Spectacular nightly light show in Stanislas square Nancy.

Then, there is the book, now in 3rd reprint.
                              Our book 'Swatchway magic' finalist in the Peoples Book prize 2013!
Thanks to all those who supported us and voted. We made the final 12!
for more info go to 
Cheers Charles and Annie.


Friday, 21 June 2013

Boating in the clouds

The first commercial craft passed across the summit level of the Bourgogne canal and through the Pouilly tunnel in 1832, At the time it was the only navigable route from Paris to the South.

The electric tunnel tug, retired but  preserved. It dragged a chain from the canal bed
We head carefully towards the tunnel

The tunnel has the tightest gauge of any in France.quite remarkable and 300 meters above sea level.
After much running around with a tape measure, fenders lashed to our extremities and clutching our pass from the eclusier we ventured carefully into the 3km darkness.
                                          Three kilometers without touching the sides!

The reality was far less daunting, and 40 mins later we emerged into a new landscape.

It was now all downhill to Dijon through 76 locks on the most scenic of waterways, Chateaux to visit, The weather was still cool and June already.

Hills to climb and Chateaux to visit

76 locks on the downhill side
The author in a field of mustard
No not beer. but mustard from the pump!

The locks average 1 per km, so progress is slow, Dijon is the home of Mustard I had no idea how many varieties. 

Monday, 20 May 2013

Summit Conquered

On the 18th May Antiope finally reached the highest navigable point in France, 378m above sea level.We passed through the last lock, Ecluse no 1. to moor in the basin at Pouilly en Auxois.
Top lock, Ecluse no 1, the summit
Since leaving Migennes we have negotiated 114 locks, much of the time in pouring rain, not much fun with the canopy down. The bridges on the Bourgogne canal have a air draft of only 3.4 m or 200mm spare for Antiope.
Antiope in low profile mode, in the rain!

Air draft limited on the Bougogne.

According to the lockeepers this May has been the wettest in memory.
Aftermath of flooding in Montbard.

 The aftermath of flooding two weeks ago is very evident, with massive trees having been swept down the rivers. Altitude plays tricks with the barometer, we could also claim the storm of the century by the weather outside right now.
Our barometer plummets as we climb the hill.

Our next hurdle is the Pouilly tunnel over 3km long and likely to be a tight fit for us. Watch this space.

Sunday, 12 May 2013

Springtime 2013 France

Where do all the old lifeboats go?
Simon Evans collects retired RNLI lifeboats

We arrived in Laroche Migennes In the last days of April to find Antiope had survived the winter in good shape.Her home for the winter was at Simom Evans Boatyard on the banks of the river Yonne. Here has also become the home of a lost fleet of RNLI lifeboats!
An unlikely place to find these herioc craft, all lovingly salvaged by Simon.
Antiope is refloated, just in time, before the Yonne river flooded.
                                   The flooded river Armencon, overflowed the canal

Antiope had a lick of paint and was craned into the river, but only just in time, the rains came in buckets, followed by floods, the Yonne turned into a raging torrent, we had scuttled into the Bourgogne canal basin just in time.
The VNF closed all the waterways in our region for several days. Our choice of where to go was reduced to one option, the canal de Bourgogne.
So two weeks after launching we finally head off south towards Digon. The canal de Bourgogne was one of the the earliest canals cut linking the north to the south, and climbs to the highest navigable point in France, through 113 locks.        
Under way at last, cruising South towards Dijon, the canal de Bourgogne