Monday, 7 June 2010

Givet to Nancy

May 10

We were slow timing it towards Strasbourg for a DBA Rally, so often we would only do 3 hours a day when travelling. We crossed the border near Givet but didn't see any signs to show it.

Givet was our first experience of automated 'point and zap' locks, an excellent system providing a hire boat hasn't stuffed it up.  Past Givet a German boat jammed two locks in succession so we moored up and had lunch. After motoring on we misread the Marina mooring instructions and missed our turning at Revin ecluse - at which point the River shallowed and we came to a grinding halt - no way off - so we inflated the dinghy and headed for shore and let Angela practice her French with the Eclusier - a lot of Gallic arm waving and shaking of heads - I mean the locals don't need signs do they!  A few hours later a friendly VNF man raised the river level a bit and we scraped off (incl any moss and barnacles at a guess).  The Eclusier was so pleased to see the back of us he even worked 10 mins overtime.

We passed through the Revin tunnel at dusk and a fellow bargee let us raft up in the adjacent marina.  A good stop as there was a giant Intermarche about 100 metres away. A late start therefore towards Chateau Regnault where we moored to a concrete landing with some Dutch boats - as the largest boat we ended up with another one rafted up.  We are going to miss all the English speakers as we move further into darkest France.

Although we are both moderately competent, Angela has dodgy knees for scrambling over the boat and pontoons/banks, add in a a more cautious (aka safe) temperament and we decided that Angela should officially become the Helmswoman/Radio Op and Peter (with a strong right arm) the Deckcrew.

Off through Pont a Bar to Mouzon where we got cut up by a small Dutch boat, who stole our  mooring while we were manouvring to reverse in (grump). We found another one but no electricity.  An attractive town with a nice Abbey church.

Mouzon Abbey church

Carried on south to Duns sur Meuse, where we met Roy and Beryl Ramsay on Vrouwe Catherina for the first time (also en route to Strasbourg). Then off to Verdun where we did the conventional sightseeing - not sure getting a million men chopped up is that Gloire though.

Verdun memorial
Angie took her life in her hands and had a haircut - excellent but it was a significant % of the monthly income.  Organised a French sim card to cut phone charges and bought a load of geraniums as our trough flowers are wilting in the heat. On return we appeared to have sprung a leak (see below). We shared a bottle with a Kiwi from Hastings (Clive Snow) - a lot of Kiwis and Australians seem to spend the antipodean winter barging in Europe.

Verdun fountain
Carried on south through a lot of nice villages/moorings.  At St Mihiel we ended up knee deep in Gendarmes and helicopters as a couple of jail prisoners had escaped while on a canoe outing. At Commercy we visited the Chateau (Duke of Lorraine) and then to the end of the Meuse (now officially the Canal de Este (Nord)) and turned east on the Canal de Marne au Rhin.  We lost our automated ecluse zapper as the locks are manned (in chains of ecluses) from here to Toul.

Downhill to Toul - Peter managed to trap a bow rope in one of the ecluses so quickly cut it clear - a splicing job for Angela.  Into the marina at Toul - a bit tight - met up with Vrouw Catherina again and a friendly french barge also heading for Strasbourg.  Checked out the fortifications and Cathedral and after an idle weekend headed towards Nancy.  No moorings en route, so a long flog into the Nancy outskirts (through the grottiest ecluse to date incl dead goat, birds and ?).  Found a free mooring close to the centre but no utils.

Place Stanislaus Nancy

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