July 19th, 2003

cruising log

warning MAJOR rant ahead!

An efficient cruise down to Port sur Saone in time to catch the boulangerie/patisserie before the lunchtime closure put us at Scey just after the lunch stop. (Bought some mortal sin for afternoon tea.) We descended lock 8, just in front of the St Albin tunnel, at 2.45 and were annoyed to see the tunnel light change from green to red as we emerged through the lock gates. Bother, we thought, a 20 minute wait. WRONG! We had been waiting for 40 minutes in mid stream when a phone call to the keeper at the other end of the tunnel informed us that a wait of up to an hour was normal, abd anyway he was ‘waiting to put through a peniche’. That means that the peniche isn’t even there yet, so how much longer must we wait?

ETA It was an hour and a half in total, hovering in full sun (32 degrees) as there is no waiting pontoon. Well, if it’s normal to wait for up to an hour, WHY IS THERE NO MOORING POINT at which to wait? Aaaaargh - It’s too bloody hot to be out there, it does the engine no good to be idling for so long, and MWNN has just told me there was a warning about the ozone levels being the highest this year (explains the asthma attack!). So, almost 2 hours later than we should have been, we reach the Soing pontoon - full; motor the 3 vkms deviation into the town itself - town mooring full; look for ‘nose in’ wild mooring - takes us almost an hour to manoeuvre in close enough to get a boarding plank off; finally tie tie up coming up to 9pm. Beyond exhausted; MWNN feeds dogs and prepares to take them over the side for last pee and pooh - German Shepherd slips from plank (she swims very well, but it is now dark, the water is full of under-surface tree roots and it is a struggle to haul her back up on deck; we try again, she slips again; so we give up; she sleeps on the back deck, we fall into bed, finally, at midnight. And all because the commercial traffic takes precedence and there is no thought given at all to the ‘plaisanciers’ who are kept waiting so long in such difficult conditions. The only ‘consolation’ in the whole episode (well there were two, for me actually; one was the magnificent peach I ate for dinner) was when the peniche finally emerged from the tunnel, it was followed by a stream of leisure boats, one of whom ‘raced’ him to the lock and went in ahead (only to reverse out after much threatening from the 800 ton barge). I know, I know, the peniche wasn’t at fault here, it was the bloody lock-keeper who had kept us all waiting for so long before the peniche even reached the tunnel, but it WAS funny to watch the hire-boat giving the peniche the metaphorical two finger salute.
knitting sketch

Saturday 19th July St Jean de Losne to Verdun les Doubs

Left St Jen de Losne in search of shade as the pontoon was in full sun and the boat soon up to over 35 degrees by mid morning. Still not found any by 5.30pm. The Saone is very meandering and wide and the sun’s position is contantly shifting. The banks are shallow and depth markers often out as much as 40m from them. Erosion and flood damage has taken a good deal of the banks out in many places. (Ski boats and Linsens doing over 20 knots don’t help!) Where there are trees and shade, there is no depth beside the bank.

ETA Well that was a bit of excitement we could have done without. The engine began overheating wildly so we had to cut power and drift in to the bank. It is full of rocks and very shallow, there is nowhere to get a line off to stop us drifting so we are at the mercy of the wind (non-existent) current (slight) and the dratted ski boats. We’ve hoisted the red distress flag but no one has taken the slightest notice; in fact, when MWNN gesticulated at one of them, he came right up to us and, having heard our problems and his part them, apologised and roared away again. It is an unwritten rule of the river (written law of the sea) that boaters must stop and offer assistance to another boat in distress. MWNN is at present up to his armpits down the ijnspection hatch, cutting weed from the propeller. Hopefully, that’s the cause of the overheating; otherwise, changing a fanbelt in these conditions could prove tricky. It couldn’t be done until the engine has cooled right down anyway and, at these temperatures, that’s about 3 am tomorrow.