Friday, 29 August 2014


14 locks, 15 miles, 7 hours

What a funny day.  This is where we started this morning.


and this is where we ended the day.


Somehow I (we) overshot the one and only exit from the Canal Vosges which would have taken us towards Nancy.  This canal is so beautiful I guess we just got hypnotised.





T Rex?

It only occurred to me that we were on the wrong canal when at 3pm I saw the sun directly in front of me which meant we were heading South of East but Nancy should have been East of North.  Had we carried on it would have eventually taken us all the way to the Mediterranean Sea.

It was definitely time to check some maps and the PC data and it was confirmed we were on the Canal  des Vosges and not the River Nancy Branch.  While I checked the info Herbie made a leap too far and went for a swim. Deb helped him out and he then shook himself all over some passers by.  He seemed to think it was all a good jape.

So we are back where we started.   The locks here shut at 6pm so navigation has to stop then.  It was a good day all the same and something to laugh about.

So tomorrow we will try again.

This is where we are now.

Screenshot (22)

Screenshot (23)

So instead of turning left and North at the green junction, I (we) trundled merrily South.

So now you know.  Even at 4mph it’s easy to miss a turning.

Wednesday, 27 August 2014

Commercy To Toul

18 Locks, 1 tunnel, 18 miles, 5¾ hours

When we arrived at Commercy Tim and Jan from Doorengone were already there. On their advice we went out for a steak dinner.  Wow! was it good.

steak dinner

We did a bit of shopping at Aldi and discovered their chocolate which is also Wow. Commercy seemed to buck the trend.  Most of the shops were occupied and in the centre was this public building totally disproportionate to the size of the town.



We set of from Commercy knowing we had a long day and a lot of locks.  As we had guests its was nice to give them a good trip and of course the workload was shared as my brother did a fair stint on the helm.



Leaving Commercy

After a few hours and a few locks we made it to Lock No.1 on the Canal de Est branch Nord and the River / Canal de la Meuse, with the numbering starting at the border of France and Belgium with the last lock No. 59. Since the Belgium border all the locks have been ascending. We have climbed 151.5m and done 272.4km


Once out of this lock and we soon came to a junction and a new canal where we turned left.


The first part of this was defiantly a contour canal we followed a cruiser out and filtered in between him and one coming up behind.  The one behind was non to pleased with this and powered up to overtake us.  Did he use his horn to give the correct signal? No.  He just waved his arm gesturing us to move out of his way.  Seeing how it bothered him so much we did, but being narrow and shallow he chopped up the water making the overtake quite interesting.



Lay-St Remi and the overtaking boat moored up just 6km later

Really makes you wonder if it was worth the effort.  Probably less than 15 minutes ahead of us.

2km later we met with Foug tunnel east end.  Here we had to wait for the lights to go green in our favour as a barge was coming the other way.






This was the longest tunnel so far about ½ mile.  Once out we came to a basin and were signalled to the by a green light into the right hand lock where we were relieved of our remote control.

What’s this?


Still not sure? Does this help?




OK it’s a lock going down.  Yes going down and the first of a series of 12 locks down to Toul.  Each lock is about 2.7m so dropping us 32m.  Each lock automatically set it self for our descent so the 12 locks and 8km look a little under 3 hours.

We were gongoozled and flashed. I didn’t see, it but the woman in the red dress lifted her hem and flashed her red knickers as we went under the bridge according to my brother.


Once through lock 25 we arrived at Port de France, the town moorings. However there was no room for us, so we have moored on the other side.  Not a problem, no one has asked us to move and we are right by the VNF office.

Can you spot us? and we have Napoleon close by

Monday morning me and Malcolm took a train and a bus back to St. Mihiel to get the vehicles this took 2 hours in all. The girls took a walk into town and Deb lined up some window shopping for the next day as France seems to have either a half or full day closing on Mondays.

In the afternoon we all went into town for lunch, however this proved troublesome as we were late.  Lunch in France is 12-2pm and not a second before or after.  The first restaurant informed as we sat down, the had no eggs, no fritts, no Plate de Jour, and sold beer at €3.90 per 250ml. We left.  The next place we did manage (grudgingly) to get a pint of beer and a couple of wines for the girls but no food so left with no other choice. Malcolm, Dawn and Deb got kebab and chips on the way back to the boat.

I waited till I got back to and did a chorizo omelette

So much for French cuisine today.  Malcolm and Dawn took there leave late afternoon for a ferry at 9.45pm.  We are now nearly 300 miles from Calais.

Monday, 25 August 2014

Belleville Sur Meuse to St. Mihiel

8 Locks, 24 miles, 8½ hours, + a 1 day 2 night stopover

We stayed another day at Belleville Sur Muse because there was a music event on the Saturday.  Graham and I arrived back from our vehicle move and cycle ride back to find the beer trailer open and a delightful accordionist playing traditional French tunes, so to show our appreciation we had a couple of pints and the girls eventually found and joined us.  Not that they were looking for us, they were loured out by the music too.


This was about 2pm and it went on until near 1am with quite a large crowd at the peak. As well as the beer trailer, a large BBQ selling burgers and sausages and some inflatables for the kids.  Unfortunately the successive cover bands singing the same covers got progressively worse and like all bad bands they seem to think louder makes it better.  It don’t!


Belleville Moorings

We set of on Sunday for St. Mihiel passing through Verdun.




Not long after the town was the first lock with a small tunnel.


This is a section of the map for the trip.

Verdun to St. Mihiel

As you can see we are still going up hill.  Most of the locks are between 2.5m and 3m.


The scenery is becoming attractive again


Here’s the new flag pole

We are still in manned locks.  The lock keepers sit in little huts because I guess the original lock keepers cottages are now sold off.  They are charming, this is a typical example.


7 locks later we arrived at


MR had arrived earlier by about 20 minutes and confirmed there was space for us but only just.  So in we went, piping another cruiser to the post that had just come down the next lock.


Here were had free water and power and decided to stay a day as there was no rush and it was a very pleasant village with good dog walking.  The only downside was the noise of the TGV about a mile away which was actually quite loud at first, but like most noise pollution you soon tune it out.  The trains are very frequent. It’s a busy line for sure so of course I wanted a closer look and took the bike out to explore.

Under the flyover


And on the flyover

Lacroix Sur Meuse in the distance

The next day we set of for St. Mihiel. We were first to leave setting off before 10am.  A real first for us.  Just one lock today and the last of the manned locks. Again there was some great scenery.


Oh look another TVR, you have to be bloody quick though


A few hours later we arrived at St. Mihie.  Now this really was a tight fit on this mooring.  I’m getting well good at parking.



Note the removal of my new flag pole Sad smile

The boat behind is a Thomas and is a design by the same designer of Avalon, and the boat in front has the same engine and gearbox as Avalon.

We got quite comfy on the town moorings staying 4 nights in all.  At on point all the boats were DBA  members.


and all had the same idea about staying.  Within a few hours we were all introduced to each other over drinks and nibbles which went on each evening culmination in a mass BBQ on the Friday evening.



In attendance were a Dutch couple Andy and his wife, Alison and Roger on Iron Lady , Chris & Paula on Claes Compaen, Tim & Val on Doorengone, and Steven & Heneritta on Le Canard de Oz.

We all brought meat and accompanying nibbles, sauces and side dishes and of course beer & wine flowed until late in the evening when a chill suddenly hit as the sun went down over the trees. A quick clear up and we all de-camped to Claes Compaen for further chat and coffee.  The following morning we were the only ones left on the mooring as we were waiting for company to arrive mid morning.

We enjoyed St. Mihiel with a couple of lunches out and a few drinks with Jill and Graham.  They had moored up above the next lock as it was more rural for the Daisy the cat.

Deb avec Salade Niscoise

Seeing that we decided to stay and the weather was sufficiently good I got on with some painting chores on the boat roof.. I hate painting but the teasing amount of sun made it tolerable. Now that’s prepped I can get on with a full recoat of paint on the roof should the weather ever improve.

St. Mihiel once again was a town with plenty of long shut up shops with a disproportionate amount again of financial shop fronts.

On Saturday my brother and girlfriend arrived complete with shopping list and redirected deliveries for me and Graham.

Malcolm and Dawn

I now have a bigger chain wheel for my bike so should be able to keep up peddling in top power assist, a book for boaters in France with 100’s of useful phrases most of which like my boat is sinking (Mon bateau coule) {Moh bat-toh eh teh-shoo-eh} and I have been boarded by armed men  (J’ai suis aborde pas des hommes armes) {Zhuh sweez ah-bohr-deh pahr dez zuhm ahr-meh} I hope never to need, a new water filter and a new edition waterways map of France.  Graham got a repaired iPad, the phrase book and a gas bill. the gas bill is actually better news than it sounds.

After a brief walk round a very sorry for its self market we cast off for Commercy which would be our stop for the night.

Just to let you know also, mobile internet in France is SHIT!! hence the lack of blogging. Tonight is the first time I have had an upload speed of over 500mb/s for more than a week.  Trying to upload any slower just times out.