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Saturday, July 24, 2021

Barge Date:  07-22-2021

Sitting on Top

We are in Pouilly-en-Auxois, the highest point in the French canal system. Google Maps say the elevation is 384 meters. There are several reservoirs nearby that help feed the water that the canal needs and uses up as everything flows down hill. If these reserves of water are depleted then the canal must close.  This has happened frequently in the last several years as France has faced lower than normal rain fall.

A not too sophisticated measuring device is nearby and I guess that it is used to know when to add water. I am sure I saw a slug of water enter this morning in the basin where we are. Big ripples  crossed the basin.

The canal was completed in the 1830s having taken about 50 years to create. The tunnel that is just off the basin is 3.4km long and took 5 years to make. We went through this tunnel several days ago.  Very uniform in shape from end to end. While I tell myself to concentrate at all times it would appear that I touched the tunnel wall several times on the port side. Just the top edge of the metal roof trim touched.  No damage and until I looked for it I was not sure I did touch. If done again I think I will attempt a better way to move the stern when needed.  A local tour boat goes through the tunnel twice each day; four trips back and forth. See video at the bottom.

We have been through 76 locks on this canal. There are 189 in total so more to see.  We will be going down now so will be finding filled locks that will drop us several meters each time.

The tunnel does not have a tow path; just water up to the walls.  In the old days, we are told, barges had to be pulled through using hand-held poles that latched on to brackets on the walls.  This could take up to eight hours to get through (plus 2 hours for lunch, I would guess). Then an electric tug was used to pull trains of barges through; then it took "only" 2 hours.

Pouilly-en-Auxois is a nice town but a hike from the basin.  A number of restaurants, bakeries and other stores. Had some sorbet today; cassis flavor. Almost too powerful.

Did some cleaning on the boat and in the engine room.  Greased the parts from the wheel to the rudder. Not a quick job; I must crawl way back into the stern which is a most uncomfortable place.

Wow.  A boat just entered the basin from where we came from.  Third boat we have seen this year.

We leave tomorrow morning to do 13 locks. Hoping for a restaurant where we will tie up but that is a question mark.

The previous stop we made had the benefit of a castle high on the ridge above the town. Actually a small village is there too.  Made for some nice pictures.  This scene is pictured on Hart Massey's second book about Lionel and travels in Europe. We walked through the port village and enjoyed the houses and farms.

For those with French lessons.

Wonderful lock house. Had a line-up of old farm rakes too.

Lamp purchased last year now in operation.

Tunnel exit for us.

Sunday, July 18, 2021


Barge Date:  07-16-2021

A Few Locks, Stop, a Few Locks, Stop




Don't forget Marianne's FB site for lots more photos.


We have been in the rainy village of Gissey-sur-Ouche for a day and half doing little if anything. Just us
and 2 large barges tied up at the VNF. Told by our new VNF friend that these barges are owned by VNF. Why they would need such items I do not know. Maybe seized in a drug raid.

 Since we entered this canal we have had VNF workers traveling with us to set up the lock as we approach and to re-set the lock after we pull out.

This means they control how hard and fast the water is let into the lock; we are going up hill so they are always filling the lock for us. Here is a video of a typical rush of water. Is it too much too fast? For our barge, its weight and shape, you can see that it holds a steady place on the wall. The water rushes past us, hits the rear doors then bounces back up the other wall.  Sometimes there can be a different story but for the most part we seem to handle the water well.  But you have to stay with the rope just in case; no wandering about. I suppose if we asked for a slower fill they would do it.






A few other updates. Here is a picture of the finished bow mast. Kind of a busy place. If you look
closely you can see the radio antenna going up the mast then extending above it. Mast should never come close to the top of a tunnel or bridge.  I just have to keep an eye and ear out for those close calls. Click on the picture for the original size if that helps.




On the inside I have installed two old brass lamps in the wheelhouse.  For looks only. But a bit interesting.

We found our first canal travelers today.  Mark and Annie on Anna. They are taking their time going south to have their boat taken into a dry dock for inspection.  They have two big fluffy dogs on board.

Took a walk around La Bussiere-sur-Ouche, our current stop. Here are some pictures.

There is an old abbey close to the canal that is now a hotel and restaurant.  Only for the high rollers.  A nice suite will go for 600 euros per night.  Dinner starts at 99 euros and one of their wine bottles, they suggest for you, is only 290 euros. The grounds are very nice but you have to look over a wall when it is low enough to see the sights.  Front gate is controlled from inside and they obviously have cameras to watch who might sneek in. I waved.

Have stopped for the day in Pont d'Ouche. Supposed to have two eating places;  found both closed due to COVID. No bakery. The marina that is here is lacking, but new owners announced for 2022 who will also run one of the restaurants.

Will do 11 locks next day.

Thursday, July 15, 2021


Barge Date:  07-14-2021

On Through the Rain

Strange, one day to the next. Since day one on this canal we have had weeds everywhere.  There is normally a channel up the middle of the water that is mostly clear but the sides are deep with long stringy plants. Many canals in France have this problem.  For some boats it interferes with the engine cooling. At a minimum it takes more  power to just go up through the channel as the weeds retard the flow of water to the prop.

But the morning leaving Plombieres the water is totally clear.  And it has been through the next 15 locks. Why is this the case? Beats me. But it is a lot nicer to have this clear water ahead of you.

The boat is working well.  Still can't blow the horn.  Minor problem with the electric toilet but that is understood and under control. Been asking for some help with the battery monitoring system and hope to have that under control soon too. Been cool and grey today so I started the diesel fireplace and it lit up like a charm. Both bikes now have working tires and are ready to go.

Last night we had a meal across from us on the canal at some fancy place. The plate art work was interesting with the use of wild flowers and pea compote.  The food was just so so.

Today we did 9 locks by 1pm and then took the lock worker on board to have our lunch.  He works for VNF for six months of the year and then he tries to write movie scripts.  He is giving it a good try.

July 14 in France today; all day in fact. We are in a little country village, it is raining and we probably will not see or hear fireworks. We will hold here tomorrow since it is supposed to keep raining, and then move ahead. Big tunnel coming up soon.

New view from the wheelhouse without the dingy.

Monday, July 12, 2021


Barge Date:  07-11-2021


Had a fine stay in Dijon.  The mooring was good; quiet and just a few other boats traveling.  A small cruiser with a Swiss family on board.  Hans and Maria, their daughter and 2 grand kids. They too are traveling up the Burgundy and we traveled with them through five locks. Using the bow camera I am very comfortable getting up close to the lock door. Plenty of room for the cruiser.

Lots of weeds in the water and you can feel the drag on the boat; the weeds prevent the water from flowing easily to the prop. We have been told that further up the canal the weed situation is much better. On the trip to Dijon the lock workers seemed to be aggressive with the water coming into the lock. Not a problem for us but wonder how they would have done it if the boat had been smaller. The workers on this second leg with two boats in the lock seemed to be less aggressive with the water.

We stopped for the day in Plombieres-les-Dijon which is  just north of Dijon. A small, compact village but seeming to have a plan for how they are growing. Nice to see the architectural changes from the very old to more current. 

The port is a nice setting and is dominated by a charter cruise company called Elegant Waterways - owned by a couple from Colorado. We spoke with the operator, a British fellow, and learned a bit about the business.  Almost all cruises are booked by Americans. You book the entire barge for about $60,000 per six days. Eight  passengers and a crew of 6. His secret to success, he told us, is to not offer any options.  They plan everything and that is the way it is. Sounds about right.  And the Americans are easy to work with, he says.

We had a nice dinner at a port side restaurant and beat the crowd coming in later for the European Cup match between UK and Italy.

Down by the lock is a monument to King Louis XVIII and Pope Pius VII. They met here in 1816 as France attempted to heal relations with the Vatican. I have been reading about Napoleon but more to come about this soon. He had something to do with the relationship to the Vatican across Europe.

We will push on tomorrow and will stop for the last grocery store in some distance. The cruise operator says this is a beautiful canal and to look forward to it. He also mentioned that the machine used to remove weeds broke last year and is only now being fixed. Great.

 If a picture is small just click on it to get a larger version. 

Our lock workers

Helping eyes at a lock.

Notice the lock worker leaning into the handle that opens a door. A big push.

Dinner?  No, I let it go.




Saturday, July 10, 2021

Barge Date:  07-10-2021

To Dijon

We have made the first move on the Canal de Bourgogne or the Burgundy Canal. This is one of several commercial routes for north/south travel.  We have not seen any commercial other than one hotel barge.

Lots of weeds in a canal that is quite wide;  normally there is a clear path up the middle. When we tried to pull over for the night the weeds and the bottom worked against us. Spent the first night at Longecourt-en-Plaine. Used a ramp to get Marianne off the boat. 

The restaurant I entered in Google said it would be closed by the time we got there.  Good start.  

There is a "smallish" castle in town; in the same family for 400 years.  A hotel if you want to stay there and rates are reasonable. With restaurant closed we saw that the bakery was open and made some purchases

Pastry - Interesting - so I got it


On the canal we are followed by 2-3 lock workers on motorbikes or small trucks. All the locks are manual in operation and having 2 people to do the work is good. We are going up at this time. The second night we are in Dijon, a city we have traveled before to by train.  The marina we are in is nice but filled with weeds.  We are on a quay that is away from the marina and may not be charged. In fact the marina side looks ugly and not sure it is in operation.

On the barge I have begun work on confirming air draft by taking measurements that I can know are right on. At the wheelhouse I needed to add water to the port tank to level the boat to get a true reading.  Had purchased a piece of extruded aluminum t-bar that I clamped to the edge of the highest solar panel and which could also be extended over the water.  A weighted string was lowered to the water and the string was marked.  The air draft matched the reading I was given when we bought the barge plus the new solar panels.

Then I made measurements at the bow where I have a small, permanent wooden mast. Here was the problem and why I wanted to do all of this.  This mast was well above the height of the wheelhouse. If entering a bridge or tunnel with low clearance I would have been given notice by the sound of the mast breaking and 2 cameras hitting the deck. This could have  been a reality this summer as we will be facing some low clearances.

So I got out the saw and cut  off about 25 cm of wood so the top of the mast is now about 11cm lower than the wheelhouse. To the mast I will be adding a metal rod that will extend beyond the top of the mast and is designed to rake against the top of a bridge or tunnel and make noise that will alert the ever vigilant captain that he might be about to have a collision. Hopefully in time to stop the barge.

We have been into the city center several times.  A very nice, clean city with lots of pedestrian streets. Does not have as many tourist stores as we saw in Strasbourg.

Thomas Jefferson, slave owner and President, was here as first ambassador to France. Was Sally with him?

Below is a picture of the route we are taking to get to Auxerre and more from around Dijon.

Manual biocide dispenser