Thursday 10th May
We left Vailly shortly after 10 am and made the journey downstream to the junction with the canal in half the time it had taken us to come up. The current is running fairly fast, no doubt due to the overnight rain. The wind is still fierce but we made good time to the mooring at Burg where the canal de L'Aisne joins the Canal Lateral and we turn north for the last leg of the ring back to the St Quentin canal.
There was a large estuary boat at the mooring, its bows well off the end of the pontoon, facing the canal junction and, struggling in the strong wind, we tied off at the other end with OUR bows off the pontoon to allow another boat access to the mid-section of the mooring. The nose is roped off to a point on the bank and tends to swing out with each gust of wind.
During the afternoon, we witnessed some strange behaviour from the commerical craft at this waterways' junction. Two peniches made their way towards the quay where they were to load up on Friday - BACKWARDS! We've never seen this before and were a little concerned as even such heavy boats as they had difficulty keeping a straight line in the gale.
A little after 6.30, the digger that had been dredging from a platform in the middle of the junction, knocked off for the night and made its way past us to the VNF yard by pulling the platform along using the digger arm. The platform bucked and rolled with the motion of the arm and the buffeting of the wind - health and safety still has a long way to go.
We had begun to think that we would be able to pull back and tie the nose off on the pontoon itself when, just before the locks closed for the night, two boats arrived. First a Czech registered broad-beam, followed by a 70 ft narrowboat. The narrowboat owners are boat builders from Skipton, who brought the boat, Firefly, over last year, having had the use of one of the broad beams they'd built for a couple of weeks each year prior to that. Firefly is a beauty. She is a trad style boat with a large front deck housing a cast iron table and chairs and topped by a sun canopy. Her sides have been painted in the traditional style with 'scumbling' (painting steel to resemble wood) panels framing the rear cabin sides bearing the names of the boat's owners.
Friday 11th May
Firefly had breasted up to the Czech boat for the night and left early this morning as I was making MWNN's breakfast coffee. The sound of her bow thruster was the only indication that she was moving away.
I was up earlier than usual this morning as the winds continued to buffet the boat throughout the night. We rocked and rolled with each gust and then rolled some more as the first of the peniches roared past on their way to the lock just after 7am.
The weather didn't look like letting up but we couldn't stay here any longer. The next stop is right beside a supermarket which won't be open on Sunday. We are running short of provisions so we must move on to stock up on Saturday. I pulled on my wet weather gear and we started up the first of five locks. Each has a rise of about 3.5metres but the lift is fairly gentle and we managed with just a middle rope. Then it was through the tunnel beneath the Chemin des Dames and onto the mooring at Pargny in time for lunch.
MWNN has just returned from the bar where he paid the mooring fees last autumn. He tells me the bar burned down and the fees are now taken by the occupant of the converted peniche which uses this mooring as its permanent home. The Hotel de Truit is fermee Vendredi, so it will be spaghetti with bolognese sauce from a jar tonight.
Afternoon tea is waiting, the sky has cleared, the barometer is rising and the winds dropping. What more could one ask for when one is 'messing about in boats'? -
Perhaps the password from kazzy_cee which arrived in the email folder with the tea? Now that we have more than 1 bell on the mobile mast indicator I can send and receive emails again. Thank you, K. I'm glad you enjoyed the concerts, I hope everyone who had tickets for Jamses' gigs thought likewise and I look forward to hearing all about it when we return to the UK.
Urgent news can be sent to the usual boaty email addy (not the hesadevil or patricia addresses - if you don't have it, you don't need to have it ) contact kazzy_cee if you've lost it.