September 24th, 2005

cruising log

Tournous to Chalon sur Saone

Tournous to Chalon sur Saone

Friday 23rd 7. 30am: Fog! Flowing under the road bridge, across the swirls and eddies alongside the pontoon, while hovering above us a huge grey apartment block looms from within its grip. A lone figure standing amid the chairs on the empty sundeck peered through the mist which is thinning now as the morning sun struggles to burn off the cloak that had descended in the middle of the night. I ate an early breakfast and watched the first hotel boat sweep silently along, the fog dampening the sound of the engines, its presence felt in the surge of water rather than the roar of powerful diesel propulsion.

9.30 am: the hire boat moored ahead of us has just returned. They set off before the last of the mist rolled off the river and report thick fog just two bends up from the town.

11am; With a newly restored hearing aid, I can face the trip up river with confidence and so we leave our favourite Saone mooring at Tournous, and the rose coloured twin towers of its Abbey Church and head for St Jean de Losne until the weather breaks and we turn for home waters and the long winter lay-up routine.

11.50 am: As we approached the lock upstream of Tournous, where a big dredger was working, the lock keeper closed the gates against us with only two hire boats inside. Twenty minutes later the standby lights appeared. This did not bode well for our passage through the lock. It normally takes twenty minutes to fill the big river lock _once_. The standby lights indicated that the two hire boats were through and another boat was on its way down. Sure enough, a large, fully laden peniche emerged and we were ushered inside by the green light with three other boats waiting to pass upstream. We kept as far back in the lock as we could but even so the speed with which the water entered the chamber tossed us around like the proverbial snuff at a wake, making the ascent up the fixed bollards ( a difficult manoeuvre requiring affixing a second rope with a boat hook, on the bollard above before the rope on the lower bollard is removed) almost impossible. A cruiser we had helped moor at Tournous was in serious trouble; its English speaking skipper struggling with the helm as his (very recently married) French speaking wife tried to handle the ropes from inside the cockpit without a pole; we could hear the expletives across the lock above the roar of the water and gunning engine. Normally our passage through this Soane lock is as smooth as riding an escalator; there seems to have been a change in policy and all paddles are just thrown open. Even the sailor ahead of us was bucking and rolling violently. If the newly weds aren't seriously injured on one of their passages through the locks, I fear the marriage will be very short lived. I don't understand how they have brought the boat from Madeira without establishing some teamwork routines.

Saturday 24th. Last night we moored at Chalon Marina, after 5 hours cruising. The 'plan' was to head upstream again today so, after landing, we paid for our mooring, walked the dogs and then embarked on a lengthy shopping expedition for provisions to see us through the weekend. MWNN spotted some English fruit scones which we bought for Sunday's afternoon tea and _then_ found the wine offers that are part of the wine festival (it's vendage time in Burgundy) so we came back with a trolley laden with some fine wines, including a Cornas and a 2000 Dopff Gewurztraminer. Neither of us would admit to not wanting to head off this morning but, after a very late breakfast and dog walk, it was agreed that it was _much_ too late (11.30) to set off for what would be another 5 hour cruise to the next mooring; it's a free one, so the chances of getting a place after 2pm are slim.

During the dog walk, we did a quick rekkie of the restaurants in the old town and have booked an evening meal at Table de Fanny (Yes - really!) for 8pm.