Cruising season 2015

Roanne was finally, possibly forever(?), left on Wednesday the 15th of April. Th map shows the southern part of this year’s travels. We used a yellow marker, which is unfortunately invisible after scanning. First we followed the Canal Latéral de Roanne à Digoin, followed by the Canal Latéral à la Loire – the latter not beyond Saint-Léger-des-Vignes, where we entered the Canal du Nivernais. Beginning at Clamecy the canal and the river Yonne play leapfrog, at Auxerre the river eventually becoming the sole navigable waterway. At Montereaux-fault-Yonne the Yonne ends up into the river Seine. We traveled downstream towards Moret-sur-Loing, our winter mooring during 2012/13. Arrival at Moret on the 16th of June. So this part of our season took us around two months.

Here’s an impression of what was offered to us at the beginning of the season. Spring, a blue sky, bright colours and tranquility.

But… the end of April and beginning of May brought torrential rainfall. At the time we have shown some pictures and a video of what it looked like. This is the river Yonne at Clamecy. The current was strong in such a way that we had to wait several days before we were allowed to descend the local lock and cruise the reopened river.

A real highlight, of course, was the presence our youngest grandson (Liam) for a week. We picked him up from Paris, Gare de Lyon, on Sunday the 10th of May when moored at Clamecy. Fortunately we could start cruising the following Tuesday – so did not have to disappoint him. Here we are moored at Mailly-le-Ville, grandson and –dad trying to remove rubbish that is brought down by the current of the river Yonne.

Our engine gave us trouble for the first time on Monday the 4th of May, shortly before arriving at Clamecy. This picture gives a pretty good idea of what we have seen during almost 4 months – only ending the last day of August. Removing the floor in the wheelhouse for more (day)light and ease of movement, it became almost a routine.

The weather has been gorgeous, sometimes even a heat wave, for a long period. Already in May we were able to be in the open air to play games with our grandson. The good weather lasted until the end of August, so almost for four months. This picture was taken when we were moored in Villeneuve-sur-Yonne, the beginning of June. Our parasol is attached to a bench and the captain reads a book in the shade, accompanied by a bite and a drink.

An impression of a get-together around the 19th of June in Moret-sur-Loing as organized by Laurette the harbour-master – well known by the boating community.

Moret-sur-Loing was left on the 30th of June. We thought we had loads of time, because we were supposed to arrive in Paris only on the 7th of July. So we decided to cruise upstream and see what the Petit Seine looks like. Well we only made it to Bray-sur-Seine (engine problems again) and turned towards Paris in order not to arrive too late because of expected visitors. We were in Paris in time and stayed for 9 days in Paris’ Arsenal, longer than planned. (Guess why.) The two engineers there were 100% crap we have to say – avoid them. We paid an arm and a leg to both the harbour and the engineers and ended up with… nothing. Besides we were unable to visit Paris, because the engineers told us time and again ‘j’arrive’. They lied. Anyway, after we left on the 16th of July we entered the river Oise at Conflans-Sainte-Honorine and stayed at Pontoise for another 3 weeks for a well known reason… An engineer from England visited us briefly which gave us enough courage to continue. So we finished l’Oise and continued with the river Aisne upstream going eastbound just after Compiègne. When the river is no longer navigable she becomes the Canal latéral à l'Aisne, followed by the Canal des Ardennes. The latter ends up into the river Meuse. Not after having had severe engine-trouble, again, we entered La Meuse at Pont-à-Bar on the 15th of August, at 3:09PM to be precise. This part of the season took us 1½ months.

The Port de l'Arsenal in Paris was reached on schedule, being the 7th of July. It’s a hugely popular place to be (seen), as is shown by this picture. It is really crowded when de sun is shining. There’s a very effective guard-system. After 10:00PM there are only boat-related people allowed.

Just another random picture of Paris during the summer. This one being the Place des Vosges…

…and during an evening in mid-summer. We have been there under this glorious circumstances to celebrate our best half’s birthday, together with family-visitors.

Our stay in Paris ended inevitably and after a two day journey we ended up in Pontoise. We all know it’s not always partying and sightseeing, so here’s an example of a necessary job, being cleaning and re-oiling the wooden part of the wheelhouse. The two dog-boxes underwent the same treatment, so all the woodwork can face the coming winter-period fearlessly.

This picture shows the last part of our 2015-journey, being from Pont-à-Bar, France, to Antwerp, Belgium – where we are at present. This part of our journey took us from the 15th of August (mentioned before) until the 27th of October, when we finally arrived at our bespoke winter-mooring in Antwerp’s Willemdok. Therefore almost 2½ months. We cruised northward on the Meuse (stunningly beautiful) to Namur, took a left turn on the Sambre (a disappointment, ugly and boring) towards Charleroi and continued for a short stretch on the Canal Charleroi-Bruxelles before taking a left turn onto the Canal du Centre towards Mons. After Mons the name of the canal changes into the Canal Nimy-Blaton-Peronnes. The latter ends up where it meets the upper Escault (Schelde) at Peronnes. We cruised the Schelde; followed by the Leie and stopped at Gent. After a detour to Brugge we returned to Gent and finally travelled to Antwerpen.

When we arrived at Dinant, on the river Meuse, we were welcomed by a member of the harbour-team. Not only did he make us pay (reasonable) but as a gesture of welcome he handed over three cans of ‘Blonde Leffe’, the reason being that the Leffe Abbey is situated near Dinant. We can recommend it! The beer, we mean here. The rest of Dinant too, by the way.

A detour to Brugge was made in order to meet engineers from the UK to do several jobs on our boat – see a former blog-page. We were able to buy 20 bags of coal while being there. Here there are 16 of them neatly stowed away on top of our little ship, waiting to be burned and make us feel comfortable.

Our last mooring spot before reaching the one for the winter-period. It is Gent and we loved it, although our female half unfortunately fell over here and broke one of her wrists.

Gent is a gem of a city with beautiful, historic buildings in abundance. Sometimes inevitably old meets new. Here’s a striking example of it. We consider the extension a mistake! The power of money, perhaps?

Gent has several beautiful, impressing, statues. Like this one, the Monument in honour of the brothers Hubert and Jan van Eyck, the creators of The Adoration of the Mystic Lamb, on display inside the Sint-Baafs Cathedral in Gent.

This is where we are now, in Antwerp’s Willemdok. In the far background, therefore invisible, but it is really true! This cruising season our engine ran for 292,8 hours. ‘Normally’ the score is around 400 hours, so this shows that we indeed had long, long stops because of engine troubles. The distance we travelled was 1.471,71 kilometers (almost 920 miles) and we negotiated 306 locks, an impressive boat-lift included.

Because we really want to visit family and friends we’ll be in The Netherlands as from this week for a fortnight. So there will be NO BLOG for the two coming weeks, being the week numbers 46 & 47. Of course we’ll be back three weeks from today, Sunday the 8th of November 2015. Hope to meet you again!