Tuesday, 12 May 2015

Chatèau-Therry to La Fertè-sous-Jouarre

4 locks, (or 6 Locks) 40 km, 6 hours
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.  T
he 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.
Conde-sur-Marne to Dormans 007
Conde-sur-Marne to Dormans 012
About 10am they set off and about an hour later they started arriving back, then for the next couple of hours various classes came home.
I caught the 11.30 train to Epernay, then cycled the remaining 18km back to Condè-sur-Marne along the perfectly tarmacked towpath.

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.
My troubles didn’t end there.  Most pumps in France don’t take my UK based € card and it was the only card I had on me.  I did try but as expected it was rejected.  In desperation I went to the restaurant and explained my predicament.  They said the pump was nothing to do with them but one of the diners offered to use her card and I could pay her in cash.   €20 later and I was back on the road.
Once back there was no sign there was ever an event there. Still, the delay let Deb finish her OU essay and freed her (us) up for a walk into town with the boys.  On the way through the back roads I saw a car rally all parked up for lunch, when we got to town they had arrived in the square. I must be getting old because cars like the original VW Golf GTi and XJS now class as classics.
I spied an original Citroen DS just off shot.  On the way back we stopped for a couple of beers and watched the world go by and I spied one of these.

Anyone know what it is?
On the way back we came across a hotel boat “Raymond” that had moored up in the town while we were drinking.  We had a nice chat with guests on deck and a crew member took me on a tour of the boat.  The cabins were quite small but fit for purpose and all en-suite.  It has a capacity of 24 on a 39m boat so well packed in.  More about this boat later!
The following morning we did a mini shop to restock the bar fridge and set off around 11.15 to be away before the hotel boat at midday.

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.
Conde-sur-Marne to Dormans 030
The pontoon and 2 of the 3 arches of the bridge

Needless to say I was not best pleased and have written a complaint to the company and VNF about his reckless regard for us.  All he had to do was wait in the lock until we were safe. So now I have to go down steam about 1km while he overtakes us.  Not content with nearly ramming us and causing emergency action on our part the captain them comes out an hurls a load of abuse at me in French as he speeds past.

Conde-sur-Marne to Dormans 025
CroisiEurope Raymond

Update:-  CroisiEurope have kindly replied to me. I have now met Riad  (apologies if I have spelt this wrong) the regular captain of Raymond who went out of his way to find us and explain the situation while we were moored at Lagny –sur-Marne.

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
Kind Regards

The crew of the M.S Raymonde with Croisieurope”

Having turned I headed back up stream to retrieve Deb now back at the lock. Once back on-board we locked up, exited the lock and turned to re-enter so we did 1 lock 3 times.  We are both safe and sound if a little shaken, Avalon has a battle scar but nothing too serious and we have gained a bit more experience. You never stop learning.
We seem to have gained a little masonry. The bridge is still standing but a tiny bit less of it.

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.
On the pontoon in front of us is a highly modified Liverpool widebeam owned by a French man. 
Roof deck
Aluminium entrance porch
Afternoon beers were taken on his roof deck which has set my mind thinking!
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.
On our cruise yesterday we again encountered the phenomenon which make you think you are going down hill, which of course you are when going down stream, but this is what the locks are for, to keep levels between the pounds.

Knowing trees grow vertical look at this picture taken from the boat with my camera that has a level built in the display.

Conde-sur-Marne to Dormans 019
Taken from the port side
The trees are defiantly leaning to the left as we go forward.  Its a strange effect and one that has to be seen because I can’t describe it.


  1. Ooo scary moments and an incompetent captain I would say. No regard whatsoever of safety for others. Glad you are both OK and only a few mendable scratches to Avalon to worry about.

    The stuff in the box in the little flower garden could be an insect hotel?


  2. The 'structure' you photographed looks like a 'bug hotel' to me...

  3. I agree Sue, it’s a bug hut!

  4. It is indeed an Insect Hotel. Loads of them here.