Monday, 20 September 2010

Montceau to Belfort Junction

Sep 10

Our son suggested a meeting on the Rhein (he is based in North Germany) so we looked at the Edition du Breil and decided the Canal Rhone au Rhin (aka River Doubs) was achievable, it had also been recommended by friends as a good scenic route.  However, it did involve retracing our course up the Canal du Centre to the Saone and St Jean de Losne - off we set anyway.

This time through we stopped at St Leger sur Dheune which is mostly taken up by a hire base - once again we shrank to 15m - must retitle Angie as a 'Procurer of Discounts' - perhaps it is her improving French rather than the eyelashes.  Into Fragnes again where Kes likes the canalside walks.

Kes - Fragnes
Then the River Saone,  the weather was beautiful so the Helmswoman went on strike and once again it was a man and a dog doing all the work.

River Saone
 Verdun sur Doubs - we were stung with Peniche rates (female Capitaine) but not a lot of alternatives.  No moorings again at St Jean de Losne - so we fuelled up (another 'ouch') and into the Canal Rhone au Rhin where we met our first grumpy eclusier.  It took 30 mins to have the lock zapper explained (must admit it is a more complicated type) then we moored up at Abergement La Ronce (having been cut up by an English barge at one of the locks).  Not a wonderful day.

Next a short run to Choisey where we spent a few days (supermarket 2km up a hill but not much else) - met a very smart Sagar 'Alicia' (crewed by Steven Sagar who built Kotare). Steven kindly donated a couple of surplus fenders designed for sloping walls - perhaps it was the scratch on the bow. Then off through Dole which was wall to wall boats, so we moored at Ranchot where we got a greenfield mooring with electricity.

Ecluse - Dole
We found a cute little greenfield mooring at Routelle in a triangular shaped basin - Kes loved the area - then off to Besancon.  We were now experiencing the full joys of the River Doubs weirs where the weir and ecluse are often collocated - a whole new experience motoring along the face of the weirs after leaving the ecluse - the Helmswoman was not impressed as water levels were high.

a Doubs weir
In Besancon we had to go through two tight ecluses and the Citadel tunnel to get a mooring at the new Porte Bregille - very smart.

Besancon Citadel
It was very windy and this combined with a strong current made turning and mooring difficult (another bowthruster fuse has to be charged to the Helmswoman too).  We had a good time exploring the City and the impressive Citadel.

River Doubs from Citadel
We then did a short run to Deluz, the new marina is useless as a barge mooring but we used the electricity and water to pressure wash Kotare and then used the free nearby mooring.  We had decided to paint the cabin and wheelhouse tops which were looking a bit tatty (Steven Sagar had looked a bit disapproving too). Two days later - voila - though mixing paint by eye meant it was a tadge too yellow.

Deluz - Kotare newly painted
At Baume les Dames, the next stop, we had to raft up to a fellow English barge, Bob and Jenny on Hendrika who also had a border collie - Kes in love again. The heavy rain didn't interfere with the social life though.

Canal Rhone au Rhin
At this belated point we checked Navigo and found that the eastern third of the Canal was closing for a month (at the end of the month) so a hasty revision and we agreed to stop at the Belfort Junction.  With time in hand we meandered on to Isle sur la Doubs (where we met Ian Lones on Avontuur - our DBA Winter mooring guide). We then spent a few nights at Columbier Chatelet on a deserted pontoon by an attractive little village and ecluse. We dismantled and varnished the hatches, route marched to the Bar in the next village on the grounds it was exercise for Kes and Angie also squeezed in some sun bathing. Dampierre was mainly a Catholic shrine on the waterfront and a boulangerie so we only stayed one night.  The River was quite high so we were being fairly cautious.

Starboard a bit please
En route to Montbeliard the Canal crosses the River without benefit of an aqueduct, so if the River is high VNF close traffic due to the strong currents - Ian had been held up for a few days but we were OK.

Ian Lones had directed us to the free mooring at Montbeliard (outside the VNF office) which pained Bob on Hendrika who was paying the full rate.  Lots of shopping and sightseeing and Chris (son) arrived late with a another car load of NAAFI stores - after an 8 hour drive down the length of Germany so was knackered.

Montbeliard - Chateau
Delegating the heavy lifting to Chris, we went off to Belfort Junction and stayed the night on a good pontoon in the midst of a lot of greenery, then back to Montbeliard to wave farewell to Chris (now retitled Chief Logistician).

Belfort Junction
Son posing as an idle layabout

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