We’ve woken up to rain! The lock keeper has asked us to wait for the barge we picked up yesterday. There is a barge here with us which will go through the tunnel first and then the other barge will come through. They rammed us a few times yesterday so this morning our plan was to go behind them. We are now on the down section which is very easy from a tying ‘up’ perspective as you just loop the rope around the bollards. By 10:30 the other barge was nowhere to be seen so we decided to head into the lock. 15 minutes later the lock keeper decided enough was enough and we headed down. As we were alone in the locks and Dave is competent at driving, we didn’t have to tie up. Dave used the motor to keep us steady as the lock went down. I helped close some of the gates which sped up the process. After a few locks there were 2 lock keepers. We must be the only ones in the series. We got through 9 of the Sardy lock staircase before lunch at 12. We started again at 13:10 with 1 lock keeper. There are old fashioned lock gates with no winch to open or close them. And they are heavy! We saw a dead baby boar in the water. Wonder if it fell in and drowned? Despite there being free WiFi and certain points along the canal it doesn’t appear to have been on since Panneçot. We left the 16th lock at 14:25. Shortly after that is a lovely place to tie up if you get here at lunch time. The barge does not have a helm indicator which would be a nice addition. Some of the lock keepers’ cottages are abandoned. I wonder if they are for sale? What a life that could be! On this route there are few places with shops and so far none of the lock keepers have sold anything! The rain finally stopped but the wind picked up. There is a massive cement factory taking up 86ha along the banks of the canal. It’s 15:30 and so far today we’ve passed 2 other barges. The water has tiny waves rippling across the expanse and gently knocking against the barge. The aqueduct marks the start of a one way section which must be governed by the locks as there are no indication lights. At 16:35 we came across a barge going up and we had a short wait at the lock for them. We tied up at Chitry-les-Mines and the dodgy barge basin keeper called an ambulance ‘taxi’ which took us into Corbigny. We needed wine! And the return trip cost us €20 *gasp*. We bought pate, chocolate, tartelettes noix and limoncello as well. Unless you need groceries or WiFi don’t bother stopping. It’s a 3km walk which we could have managed had it not been raining. We left the boat basin and tied up at the first of the Dirol drawbridges. Supper tonight will be pasta and we will enjoy a bottle of Bordeaux Supérieur.
with love from France
Tandy and Dave