Tuesday, 12 May 2015
Arriving at Chatèau-Therry we moored up on what I think was the old commercial quay. Next to us was kiddies mini merry-go-round with PA music, which actually wasn’t too far off several of my play lists. Anyway this stopped about 7pm.
Having donned our glad rags we set off for a posh looking French restaurant. I had Froi Gras, for starter, followed by Duck and finished off with a superb Crème Brule. I think I did a French menu justice. The meal and the service was 1st class and surprisingly reasonable.
Next Morning (Sunday 12th May) we were awoken at 8.30am by another PA system. This time it was some sort of fun run, Nordic Walking, dog walk event, although there was nothing to show what it was (if anything) in aid of.
When I arrived there was a hotel boat “Who Knows” moored. We had a chat for about 10 minutes about the river conditions and the general lack of boats on the move, then I headed back via the pretty route through the very heart of Champagne Country.
I had 42 miles of fuel on the computer when I set which was enough. This very quickly went to zero. The panic was on to find a pump. In the rural back roads of France this is not something one expects to find. Then I spotted a lone self service pump at a restaurant car park. At this point I had done about 25 miles on zero and it was a welcome site. I was convinced the engine was beginning to hiccup.
The plan was to moor on a pontoon mooring at Saâcy-sur-Marne about 3 hours along. When we got there it was quite small so we went past turned and made an up stream approach. On the 2nd attempt Deb was able to get on the pontoon, but the current got hold of the Avalon, I again made another approached and managed to get a line on, but still the current was too much causing me to again abandon but this time taking me backwards like a phoo stick under and hitting the bridge arch with the top rubbing strake.
On the next approach I spied the hotel boat exiting the lock some 500m away. I had seen him enter the lock as I was whisked backwards under the bridge. I can’t see how he didn’t see the problems we were having, but anyway he decided to exit the lock and start blowing his horn, which he did for almost all of the 500m. I aborted my approach in time enough to get out of way but having to make a dash under the wrong arch of the bridge.
Having discussed the matter at length it is clear to me that the temporary Captain on Raymond that day was out of order and that CroisiEurop are deeply embarrassed and apologetic about his poor judgement. I am assured severe sanctions have been given to the temporary Captain. Accordingly I have removed the expletive thoughts on the temporary Captain to reflect how I feel about Riad and CrosiEurope and the crew of Raymond but not the temporary Captain.
I would also like to apologise to Riad for any negativity this has caused him and his family. It would seem this blog post has caused a bigger ripple.
Anyone reading or having read this or the previous version of this blog should be assured that Riad was not to blame and I am confident any vessel, passengers, crew and other river users are safe under his command.
“To the Captain of the Avalon.
We would like to contact you with regards to the event that happened during your tried attempt at mooring at the pontoon at Saâcy-sur-Marne, and the actions taken by our Captain on board the M.S Raymonde, we on board the Raymonde and the company of Croisieurope received your mail with the complaint against the actions of our Captain leaving the lock heading directly for you.
This complaint was taken very seriously and looked into with great care, at this time please allow me to explain that the Captain we had that week was a replacement and isn’t the fixed captain for the Raymonde, Our fixed captain returned back on board last Thursday and has been informed of the incident and has personally looked into the event by calling the lock keeper and the VNF and holding an on board meeting with the crew for all information possible to clarify exactly what occurred during this event.
Taking all of this information it has certainly been confirmed that the actions taken that day by the Captain go against all forms of navigation politeness and etiquette, it was clear to the crew, lock keeper and staff of the VNF that you were having difficulties mooring and our Captain certainly should not have caused extra stress to you and your wife by heading towards you sounding the horns, and should not have shouted expletives when passing, its common knowledge when seeing a barge in distress to slow down and help in any way possible.
Our fixed Captain and the crew of the Raymonde and indeed the company of Croisieurope send our deepest apologies for what happened that day and in no way should the actions of this Captain go without a severe penalty and we assure you that after all the information was gathered this penalty was given with no hesitation.
I would like to broach another subject with you in regards to your blog, we have been made aware that you have mentioned this incident on your blog with a photo of the Raymonde with a rather graphic insult attached, we ask you most kindly to remove this photo, as mentioned above, the actions taken by this Captain that day should not tarnish or promote a negative feeling towards the Company name of Croisieurope, we have excellent results and offer a great friendly service to our guests and we are family ran business and care deeply for the staff and indeed the wellbeing of others which is why we contact you with our upmost apology and assure you that the case has been taken care of.
We would be most happy if our paths cross again to invite you and your wife onboard the Raymonde for a glass of wine and apology in person to end the negativity that the crew feel and indeed that you feel towards us.
Again accept our deepest apologies and we wish you happy safe sailing for the future
So we press on to to the next available moorings at La Ferté-sous-Jouarre and are glad to find the last spot available. Actually these are rather delightful moorings.
We went into town for lunch next day with the intention of getting a Plat de Jour. At this restaurant this extended to a 3 course slap up meal with wine. No wonder the French have a 2 hour lunch hour.
Having done 2 day in one yesterday we decided to stay put for today after a huge lunch.
Knowing trees grow vertical look at this picture taken from the boat with my camera that has a level built in the display.
Saturday, 9 May 2015
2 Locks, 15 MIles, 3 Hours
We woke quite early. Why? well because the bells started off a 7am and we got belled every 15 minutes thereafter.
From the lounge window last night.
As it was market day we strolled in to town, bought some local produce and Deb got a top which apparently was “perfect for the boat”. Hmm? Having done that and spoken to several locals about the dogs we retired to a bar. It was still only 10.30am! I had a beer and Deb had coffee which apparently made her buzz so she then forced me to join her in a beer to bring her down from the caffeine hit. Again, Hmm?
Once done we set off for the local supermarket. Deb was lost in there for ages so I patiently sat outside answering more questions about the dogs. She was forgiven when she appeared with beer.
The planned next stop on our list was Château-Thierry which was to be Sunday or Monday, but having “done” Dormans and it still being only 12 when we got back to Avalon it was decided to do the 25km today. This under normal canal conditions would mean 5-6 hours, but as the current is whisking us along at up to 16kph it was only a 3 hour stint including locks.
Deb did lunch on the move and settled into her OU work while I got on with the helm and locks. In a flash it seemed we were ready to moor. By 3.30pm we were all tied up.
Friday, 8 May 2015
8 Locks, 1 Swing Bridge, Day 1 11 Miles, Day 2 15½ Miles, 7½ Hours
We set off from Condé-sur-Marne about midday after taking a walk with the dogs into the largely shut village.
With a right turn we were on new water heading towards Paris.
The cruise for the day was fairly unremarkable, accept of course you can still play
Eddie Stobart Norbert Dentressangle being the French version.
The half plan was to moor in Epernay but at €36 a night for us we decided that was just a bit too much so we moored for the night just past Dizy, for free on a nice quiet stretch of green bank, ideal for the dogs.
I took off the town on my bike, but once in there, there was nothing of great interest for us. I did meet another English couple with and Airedale called Teddy and an Autotrail Motorhome.
Next morning 8th May, we set off about 11am. We woke at 9.30am having gone to bed at 10.30 the previous night. We all slept 11 hours! A few minutes later we arrived at our first lock for the day, which also marks PK 0 on The River Marne. Once through this lock we found ourselves bowling along at 12kph on just over tick over.
At lock 1 Cumifrès we were furnished with a very posh remote control. This one beeps, has messages on the screen and best of all it has a lights duplicator on it.
The locks so far today have been the taper sides with floating pontoon.
Having safely moored we wandered in to the town we got 3 types of bread and some general perishables. See Debs blog for the very strange shaped loaf which is a local type.
The town was marking VE Day with a marching band.
Its good to see that even a small place like this marks such occasions.
The only other boat seen today was a trip boat in paddle steamer style.
Finally about 4.30 we moored at Dormans, again turning and mooring into the flow which must be 5-6kph.
We are now on The River Marne which will take us to Paris. Here is a map.
Thursday, 7 May 2015
11 Locks, 1 Tunnel, 14½ Miles, 5 hours
We did it, we moved. Up at 7.30am and on the move at 9.59am Not bad for us at all!
So it was goodbye to Avalon’s winter mooring at Sillery.
Reversing out ready to turn 180° and head towards Condé-sur-Marne
Once under way it wasn’t long before reached our first lock. Despite being away for 6+months it all came back in a flash and the first 3 locks up were soon done. These were the type that need to be set with a twist pole.
The 3 lock saw us at the summit level. 3 miles later we got the green light to enter Billy-le-Grand tunnel. 2.3km long. Boy was it cold in there!
Once out a short hop to then next 8 locks down. These were all auto setting accept for the last lock into Condé-sur-Marne A call to the VNF required a visit by the man in a van to make it work.
We are back a the same mooring as we were last October.
I then headed back to Sillery on my bike to get the motohome. I have fitted a bike computer and to my surprise it was just over 16 miles back using towpath and roads.
Tuesday, 5 May 2015
We have arrived back at Sillery to find everything “ship shape”. No problems aboard and after a systems start up home No.2 was up and running.
Once off the ferry on the way down on Saturday we headed to Jill and Graham on MR who are moored on the Somme with June and Mike on Tenmujin. As always when boaters reunite a party night was inevitable. Jill rustled up one of her “oh I just threw it together” meals which I am sure have a lot more planning than she lets on and as always it was delicious and strangely there was enough for “Kevin” seconds. Yum! Graham has a new toy we delivered for him. It’s a rechargeable vacuum cleaner. Jill says the novelty value of this will see him cleaning with it for at least 6 months before he get gets fed up and its here chore again. She is actually hoping for more, but will be happy with 6 months.
A lovely peaceful night in the motorhome close to MR was followed by dog emptying by myself in a lovely country park while Deb made breakfast. Later Jill and Graham came over for coffee then we bid our farewells for now. We will see them again on 17th / 18th May but more on that nearer the time.
A couple of leisurely hours drive saw us at Sillery. Driving in France is simply a pleasure compared with the UK. 2 hours here seems like minutes.
Arriving on Sunday lunch time our plan was to leave on Monday, but as we are on no set time schedule Monday got eaten up with a very long lay-in (well we do have to get in sync with the time difference). Sunday here is as it was in the UK 30 years ago. Nothing is open, and in the short time we have been away we had forgotten that supermarkets if open at all will be closed at midday. Not compatible with a long lay-in. So Monday saw restocking, re watering the tanks, refuelling the tanks and general making ready for Tuesday.
Tuesday saw another monumental lay-in, we’re still not in tune with local time you understand?. First impressions of the day gained through cracks in the curtains was a lovely bright perfect spring cruising day. Then as the bleary eyes and senses came too, it was clear we were going NOWHERE today. It was blowing a Hooley, 25mph, gusting 40mph. Had we been season hardened we would have set off, but being our maiden voyage for the year this was not the best idea, so another day at Sillery was on the cards. Once the boys were walked and lunch had, we decided to go to the vets to to get worming pills for the boys and stock up on Metacam is half the price it is in the UK and we got 180ml, a size not even available in the UK. After this we went to the local shopping zone. Deb wanted to get some Yoga clothes to keep on Avalon. Decathalon is a chain sports shop here, so while she shopped I used one of the demonstration scooters to wiz around the store many, many times. I had so much fun. Scooters have come on a lot since I was 4.
So that’s me up to date. The plan is to leave bright and early Wednesday morning. Lets see how this pans out.
We are heading towards Paris on the next leg.