September 14th, 2006


Monday 11th September - Canal Marne au Saone.

25 km and 16 locks doesn't sound a lot in 9 hours, but factor in a one and a half hour compulsory stop for lunch and a 40 minute wait outside a lock for a 'boat in trouble' on the other side and it all made for a very long, tiring, and stressful day. The 'boat in trouble' turned out to be a couple of New Zealanders aboard a vessel drawing 1.6 metres who had gone aground during the enforced lunch break. A little Swiss sailor backed out of the lock and towed them off the bank into deeper water but then the Swiss crew had to leg it back along the towpath to manually haul the NZ boat again, after they'd tied their own boat in the waiting lock. The NZ pair who had gone aground are not representative of those we've met in previous years. For one thing, they blamed everyone but themselves for going aground on a canal where the middle depth is little better than 1.6 metres. Then when they finally entered the lock, not a word of thanks to the Swiss crew, the lock-keeper or me, who'd hauled on lock gates and winded paddles furiously in the broiling heat, (a very un-seasonal 31degrees C) while they sat and glared at the world in general. As they exited the lock, they waved MWNN aside, oblivious of the fact that he'd been hovering as close to the bank as he dared for 40 minutes with nowhere to tie up and battling a fairly strong wind to stop our boat grounding in the shallows.

There WAS reward ahead for us at the end of the day. As we pulled into the final lock at around 6.30, MWNN yelled 'CHIPS'. There beside the bridge, on what looked like a garden shed, was a sign. 'Frites. 7/7'. I'd been dreading having to set to and cook after such a tiring day so offered no objections to eating off boat. We feasted on deliciously hot, crispy chips, sausages and Croque Monsieur, followed by a Magnum Classic each. A far cry from the gourmet meal we'd enjoyed at Auxonne but a feast nevertheless.