Sunday, 28 September 2014

What A Week

21st September to 27th

We set of from Commercy on the Meuse on Sunday morning.  Our route.

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Remember of course we set of from Toul a few days earlier meaning we have done the whole of the Marne au Rhin West (Ouest)131.6km, 97 locks, 78m up and 180m down

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This canal is a through route East to West and is 80% attractive, but in places it really is just functional. All I can say is it has seemed a little like a route march and we are both glad its over.  With the slow average speed and the amount of locks it was really becoming a chore.

Sermaize-Les-Baines to Vitry-le-Francois

8 Locks, 12½ miles, 4½hours

So this was the final leg of the Canal Du Marne au Rhin.  Waking early seems to be getting the norm now.  This morning we had a lie in and a slow get up and we were off at 11am. Today Saturday 27th was a comparatively easy day compared to what we have been used to this last week.

All the locks on this section are beam activated and most of them were full so by the time we reached the locks it was straight in.

The landscape has gone very flat here now.


With lots of woods with trees all planted in rows.  I have been told before this is a tradition that a farmer will plant a 100m x 100m plot of trees on the birth of a daughter. By the time she is to be married the trees will be cropped to pay for it.


But many of the trees are infested with mistletoe some even dead with dead mistletoe on.


The scenery has now changed to a typical French canal picture I have in my head.




Yet again we had the canal to ourselves, the only other boat we saw with people on was moored.


Unusual to see an unoccupied lock keeper cottage

By mid afternoon we finally reached lock No. 70 the final one on this canal



A few more km and we see the very end of the Marne au Rhin.  It now splits in tow and we are going right this time.


This is the 3 way canal split

Confirmation we are now in the Canal Laterala la Marne

Once through the first lock we moored up on a nice grassy bank for the night.


The following morning we were again awake early (for us) While sitting in bed we felt the distinct movement of water meaning the lock behind us where the above photo was taken was in operation. Then a VNF van went down the towpath on the left.  Strange I thought as it was still not 9am.  This meant it must be a commercial barge which can start at 7am I suppose with a VNF lockie in attendance to do the locks. A few minutes later it appeared first in the bedroom mirror then coming past the us.  It had a MASSIVE transformer on board, way to big to travel any distance by road. The approach was nice and gentle but to make the bend he needed to throttle up as he went past resulting in our rear pin being pulled out and our stern dragged out to the middle of the. The front was anchored on a very strong hook in the ground so it was simply a matter of starting the engine and pulling the back in again.  I thought the commercial barges were forbidden to move on a Sunday.

We walked the dogs and there were some lovely scenes.



The original river Marne under the canal

Bark textures

Bar-Le-Duc to Sermaize-Les-Baines

21 locks, 14 miles, 6¾ hours

We were woken about 7.30 by an empty barge passing within feet of us.  Once awake we decided to get cracking early.  Again we knew it was going to be a long day, but not as long as it turned out.  The moorings (2 of them) along our way on the computer map were nowhere to be seen probably having become overgrown.

Leaving Bar-Le-Luc we went through another lock with lift bridge.


Once out on the canal we came across 2 of the emptied barges taking the dredging's away.



This was a tight squeeze, at least it seemed it on approach but there was plenty of room in the end.

The next one was waiting for us to lock down and clearly had no idea we were in it because he was sitting right in middle of the canal and close to the gates.  On seeing us as the gates opened he called on a lot of power because the cut filled up with smoke and he seemed to move completely sideward out of our way.



We passed a steel plant of some sort.  There were huge blocks of zinc there so I expect there was some galvanising going on and some of these coils of steel were galvanised.


This was the loading dock with a crane over the canal so guess this is still moved by barge.

Having not found the 2 chosen moorings for the night we just kept on going till we found this great wild mooring.

Lovely in the evening

Even better in the morning light

Ligney-En-Barrois to Bar-Le-Duc

19 locks, 10 miles, 5 hours

Another day of lock and slow progress.  We set of early ablut 9.45ish because we know it was going to be a long day.  That was a waste of time because the first lock was blocked by a commercial requiring a VNF lockie to attend.  So we could have had a bit extra lay in.

Backing out of Ligney-En_Barrois

2 red lights.  Not good

Not much of any significance happened on this leg.  We found this couple at a lock.

Rude gnomes

What’s this…………


Yes another pleasure craft on the move. This was the highlight of the day really.  When we reached the outskirts of Bar-Le-Duc a couple of the locks also had lift bridges.



The moorings at Bar-Le-Duc were disappointing.  There were 2 barges moored and a French version of a broads cruiser but nowhere for us, so we wild moored just past it. Fortunately there was a large metal post for the stern but the front had to go on pins.  I also dropped anchor because they are dredging here and loaded and returning empty barges were passing.

We took a walk into town in the evening which seems to be having a really nice makeover.  Unfortunately neither of us took a camera with us.  At the town war memorial there was a ceremony going on with lots of uniforms.  They were all older men on parade and they all looked immaculate.  The last post was bugled, but it was slightly different to the one we are used to, during which all the flag bearers lowered their flags.  Some twat decided during the silence to go to his car start, it up and attempt to drive by.  He was sternly told by a Gendarme to turn it off and wait.

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Friday, 26 September 2014

Treveray to Ligney-En-Barrois

11 locks, 8 miles, 3¾ hours

From Treveray we set of for the town moorings at Ligney_En-Barrois. The locks here are thick and fast so progress is painfully slow, even worse when a lock breaks down.  Average speed today was 2mph.  Fortunately the scenery was once again wonderful.  Autumn is defiantly in the air.  I even had to put a pair of long trousers on today.  First time in ages.  It did feel strange.  


These were moorings 5€ a night with water and power. We decided to stay 2 nights. In the morning we went to the town centre.


Down a little side street we found this curiously decorated house, complete with old French gent sitting outside.


He was impressed with the boys and called his wife out so see them.  As we were walking back I spied this chap.


While taking this the old man from the house arrived with a key to what turned out to be an Aladdin's cave of goodies.  Inside was a WW2 jeep all under dust covers and an assortment of other war bits an bobs as well as a wall of bottles.



2 propellers. One from a Halifax bomber

After this we went back into a town and had a beer before retuning to the boat for one of our afternoon naps.  Later on we went shopping on the bikes at the local supermarkets. Deb was flash mobbed by a bunch of Yorkshire Terriers on the towpath,  There must have been at least 5 of them.

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Wednesday, 24 September 2014



Where possible I will start to show more mapping.  This is the current waterway we are on The Canal de Marne au Rhin (West). For some strange reason the blue flag is the start and the green the end.

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We of course had a slight detour to Commercy for a couple of days.   Currently we are here,5.319207&z=16

Below is the same map showing all the locks and the tunnels.

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I would always welcome suggestions on how to make the blog more informative and enjoyable.

Sauvoy to Treveray

17 locks, 1 tunnel, 14 miles, 6¼ hours

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Todays route

We got away quite early this morning again. The first lock had been set for us by the VNF.  It seems we are the only boat on the move again today.  The first part was to get to the summit level where we would encounter the Mauvages.  All the locks are triggered by sensors somewhere in the banks, and apart from one they all worked perfectly.  On the locks are a box with a phone operated by 1 button.  This connects you to the local VNF person that turns up in random times from 2 minutes to 45 minutes.  You just never know.  Yesterday it was 2 minutes, today it was 45.


After the last upward lock we were then on the approach to the 4,877 m long Mauvages tunnel.




Overhead power cables for the tug


We were greeted by a VNF man on an electric bike that took our details and waved us on. No tug?  Seemed not, we were permitted to go through under our own power even waved on through a red light.  The tunnel was mostly dry and well lit. It took 50 minutes to get through at 1000 rpm (5km/p/h)

If you have ever wondered what Avalon sounds like, wonder no more.

The sound of Avalon

The tunnel made a good sound chamber so I had to make use of it didn’t I?

About 1km in with nearly 4km to go

While in the tunnel Deb went downstairs to make a pizza. It was very strange being at the helm with it dark outside and the lights on inside.  So far we haven’t night cruised and because the locks close at 6pm.


As we exited the tunnel the pizza was ready.  Bloody nice it was too.

Leaving the tunnel



Directions here are simple.  This is the junction of the short arm to Houdelaincourt shortly followed by the long decent to the Marne which is 52miles,180m down and 70 locks away.

1st lock down

The day ended at the charming Treveray village mooring.  This was as far as the VNF “would let us go”.  I think because we are the only boat moving and it was 5pm stopping us meant they could go home early.  He actually turned to lock off and said he would be back at 9am to turn it back on. We didn’t mind as it had been a long day and it was a good mooring.


The locked lock