18 locks, 1 tunnel,18miles, 7 hours
Having spent another couple of days and nights in Toul doing things like getting the canopy repaired AGAIN, re-fueling and restocking etc we set off for our winter moorings in Sillery. This is a journey of 125 miles and about 120 locks.
The day started badly and got progressively worse. A local fisherman left a rod on the moorings well away from where he was sitting over which I tripped. I was fine, but he insisted I had broken his rod. He showed me the damage which was clearly not new judging by the ground in dirt. I told him to “do one” which he seemed to understand because he mentioned calling the police. This seems to be the norm in France so I invited him to do so as is my norm.
Setting off we waited for a boat to lock down, as it was doing so we pulled out of the mooring to indicate our intention to the lock keeper only 50m away. The boat exited the lock and we moved to enter and he closed the doors and filled the lock. I called him on the VHF, and tooted but nothing. So I had to moor up again so Deb could go and knock on the office door. Deb could clearly hear me in his office on the VHF calling him. Eventually we got in the lock and I questioned him as to why we didn’t get access. He didn’t see us he reckoned and said the radio was on the blink.
Lock keepers usually ask what you are doing as in where you are going as they have information on the current state of the waterways etc. Not this one. Once out of the lock we passed within 15m of the main regional VNF office and into the next lock only 200m away. This went on as per normal until re reached lock 8 where we were greeted by a VNF bod in a van. By this time we have been going a good 2-3 hours. He asked where we were heading and we told him towards the Marne. “Oh no your not” he said (this was all in his best English and my best French) it is shut and we could only go to the Meuse, and further there was no stopping on the link until we reached Commercy on the Meuse. Apparently there was a breach and it had been out of action for nearly 2 weeks but should be fixed in a couple of days.
So with no choice, I say no choice, because the lock keeper at lock 14 would only let us pass on our assurance we would only head to Commercy. Now, having known this from the first lock of the day we would have sat it out in Toul, but no we were now forced to do a 10 mile detour to Commercy. This would have been fine accept locks 2 and 3 on the Meuse were broken requiring a call to each time to the VNF to come and operate them. Result, we ran out of time. 6pm the locks stop and we couldn’t reach Commercy as instructed so moored at Euvill which was fine.
This is the junction where we wanted to turn left, but we had to take the right.
At lock 1 on the Meuse there is a cement factory. From a distance it looks like a theme park ride.
The next morning we did the final lock and 5km to Commercy where we stayed for a couple of nights. I called the VNF and it was confirmed that the closure would be lifted at 9am Sunday morning.
On Saturday I moved the MH from Toul and when I got back the town MH parking area adjacent to the moorings area had now been joined by 100’s of people engaged in a Boules tournament.
It must have been an eliminator because as evening drew on the last players battled it out under floodlights. At the height of the day there were families BBQing, picknicing, drinking and all having a good time. On Sunday morning when we walked the dogs not a trace of litter or debris was left.