12 Locks, 33 miles, 9 hours with overnight
Stenay moorings required a delicate revers to get out of the marina. I was watched every inch of the way by the owner of the boat behind us. All went without incident, I was quite impressed with my efforts.
Once through the first lock just a few hundred meters away was our last automated lock. From here on in they all seemed to be manned by youngsters on university holiday. So we are back to roping again as they won’t let you lock unless you are tied. Not much of a problem as they lower a hook for the rope and put it on the bollards.
The river is now running below and we are on the canalised section, and very canal it is.
We decide to wild moor at Consenvoye just before the lock.
We though it would be a good quiet spot. That lasted about an hour until a hotel boat arrived and moored in from of us.
I chatted to the owner. This was a working boat in the Netherlands and was worked by his uncle until he retired. Yan then bought it and converted it to a hotel boat. He is currently relocating it to his next cruising area ending in Paris. The current guests were family members, but his client base is American and he is booked up already for the whole of 2015. He quite seriously told me that he would be off a 7am because he was commercial and not to try and follow through the lock as it would be shut again until 9am. I just laughed and told him that it was unlikely we would want the lock before 11am.
Herbie done a runner on his night time wee. He couldn’t be found for about 10 minutes, making it worse was the rain coming down in sheets, then Deb saw him running across from the bridge back from the local pub. Then I realised the family I was talking to earlier over drinks had left food on the table when we left. My guess is he went back to look for it. He’s not daft that dog. We all got back on board soaked to the skin.
In the morning after 11am we set off and our first French lock with sloping sides. This one was nice and easy as it has a floating pontoon.
We were now on our way to a rendezvous now with MR moored at Belleville-Sur-Muse. The locks once again were all manned by various youngsters and the way was again very canalised.
This sort of canal for us is new. We have never done any of the canals in England, only rivers so this is what I expect they might be like.
After few hours of cruising we reached our destination and MR came into sight.
Once tied up and dogs watered we all went aboard MR for a good ol’ catch-up, dogs and all,followed later by a gorgeous chorizo and vegetable stew dinner, then Graham rustled up and instant desert of apples custard.
The following day was a business day in Verdun. Verdun does have very good town centre moorings but they are very popular with free water and electric so getting a 60’ boat on them is always going to be difficult at busy times. Where we are a Belleville is great wit easy access for the dogs and just a mile or so from the town centre.
So to business. First was SFR to get a better internet deal, but it turned out they simply wouldn't give it to us without a French bank account despite or protestation about not being very EU. So we then set off to get a French bank account. Several banks said this simply isn’t possible then we went to the PO bank who made us an appointment for 9am the next day and armed with the necessary identification we got a bank account each. There was a slight hitch as Graham couldn't produce one of the many bits so he now lives with me!
Back to SFR. This is a communications company here in France that does pretty much what Virgin does here. But this shop had no landline phones working, no internet access, and because of this they had no access to streaming TV. All the tings they sell. The shop assistant said their phones have been down for 3 weeks. France really is in a state I think. Can you imagine any business in the UK putting up without phone lines for 3 weeks?