June 10th, 2003

knitting sketch

Girancourt to Epinal

Today SHOULD have been an efficient 4.5 hour climb to the summit of the Voges canal through 1 lock, a cruise across the 10.6km pound and then the descent to Epinal through 15 locks. We were averaging 6 locks an hour on the descent after only a slight delay to pull in for bread at Chaumousey where we chose the almost impossible stopping place by the church (sloping lock sides) instead of motoring on another half kilometre to a freshly mown bank right beside the bakery. However, the baker’s van saw our difficult manoevering and waited for us to land.(French river maps are not to scale and not very accurate at pinpointing exact stopping places.) So, after about 5 locks on the descent during which we had been observed by two German families on a biking holiday with their pre-school children, MWNN suddenly invited the fathers and eldest children aboard to descend a lock and cruise the half kilometre to the next lock (lock 11) It wasn’t until we had gone down the 3.6m and the gates had opened that one of the men remembered his very expensive camera back on his bike. Reversing the boat back to the ladder and waiting for the bloke to return with said camera took time. The automatic lock system deemed that there was now no boat in the lock and promptly closed the front gates. No amount of pulling the pole would open them again (we were so worried that the lock might fill again that we had to climbed the ladder ourselves and secured ropes again, leaving me on the lock-side to hold the front rope and read the phone number for the lock-keeper from the notice.) The control lock-keeper was summoned to release us and, with no room on the back deck for me, I walked to the next lock hatless, the delay cost us almost an hour in what was the hottest part of an otherwise reasonable day.