Reuil - Meaux

As written in last week’s blog we decided not to travel beyond Reuil. We left on Monday the 25th of August, 9:38AM, of course in the presence of the three gazers that had been at or near the pontoon almost all the time we were there, fanatically trying to spoil anything they could. When untying the ropes the large one (the ‘master’, as opposed to his two ‘apprentices’) asked ‘Are you leaving?’. We have promoted this question to the category ‘Is this your boat?’, ‘Do you have to crawl inside?’, ‘Is it cold during the winter?’ and the likes. We planned to stop at Château-Thierry, after 39 kilometers and 3 locks. Although having read that some fellow-boaters encountered problems there we thought ‘it’s only the bad stories that are recorded – as usual’. Well, when cruising the outskirts of Château-Thierry we saw a gang of some 6 boys on the bank and for some reason one knows immediately ‘this could be trouble’. We ignored them. Just when they were out of sight because of the bushes we heard a loud ‘bang’ and knew the ship had been hit. The combination of catapult and stone had done its job once more and the picture shows the result. This kind of behavior ignites not only fury but also, we have to admit, right-wing-thoughts. (Yes, we know that’s wrong.) We decided to skip Château-Thierry.

After another (extra) hour of cruising we stopped at Azy-sur-Marne at 3:12PM, in front or the lock with the same name. Forty-four kilometers (27,5 miles) and three locks took us 6,5 hours. Going upstream our groundspeed is around 3,6 knots (6,5 kilometers, 4 miles) per hour by 1.100 revs. Downstream the groundspeed is around 5 knots (9 kilometers, 5,6 miles), the engine still on 1.100 revs. ‘Nursing our wounds’ because of the negative Château-Thierry-experience (a half empty glass) we concluded that the catapult-idiot fortunately did not hit a double-glazed window or, even worse, a single glazed window of the wheelhouse with us close behind it (a half full glass). Compared to the troubled world it was only small beer. Nevertheless…

Already visible on one of the lampposts on the last picture is this cormorant, then still just sitting there. Here he/she is drying his/her wings to be ready again to keep the fish-level in the river at bay and staying alive doing that.

The next morning, Tuesday the 26th of August, we left Azy-sur-Marne at 10:45AM. It’s not all beautifulness along the river Marne. Sometimes ugly buildings come in sight – of course not private residences for the rich and famous but more like silos and factories. This one stood out because of the almost glass-like material that was piled up next to it. As the just visible name on the quay-front reads, it’s silicate. For the ones that are interested what can be done with it, read:

That day we considered maybe, maybe we’d have an overnight stop at Nogent l’Artaud (see last week) because we are early and the train station will be open, offering the opportunity to get hold of the key for electricity and water. On the other hand it was only 1 lock and 7 kilometers (4,4 miles) from Azy-sur-Marne, hardly a decent day-trip (for us, that is). There appeared to be no choice at all, as there were two ships moored breasted up to each other. The picture it made was too attractive not to include it in this week’s blog.

Another fact for that day was that we left the Champagne-area. It is the village Crouttes-sur-Marne, at 73 kilometers (45,5 miles) by river (less by road, even lesser ‘as the crow flies’) from Epernay where the first/last Champage-producers are. It’s said that ‘Champagne Gerbaux’ at Crouttes-sur-Marne is the producer that is closest to Paris. The village is visible in the distance, with the last vineyard on the slopes of the adjacent hill. Too bad, not a lot of sun last Tuesday.

Another picture of Crouttes-sur-Marne as seen from the river. It all looks soooo idyllic… The description in Fluviacarte nr 3 remarks about Crouttes-sur-Marne: ‘To get there you need to moor at Nanteuil-sur-Marne, as the badly maintained and rather wretched quay at Crouttes has now unwisely been privatized. Ouch! We can add to this straight-from-the-shoulder (hip?) comment that mooring in Nanteuil-sur-Marne is at least difficult. The pontoon is occupied by a seemingly permanent moored ship and the quay next to it is not inviting, to put it mildly. So far for visiting Crouttes or Nanteuil.

We’re for 99,9% sure that this is the weir next to the lock ‘Courtaron’, the 9th lock of the 18 to negotiate on La Marne. It’s more or less halfway, concerning locks as well as distance (PK [Kilometre-Point] 87,1 [54,5] out of a total of 178 [111]). As stated before (the lock Isles-les-Meldeuses when going upstream) it’s clearly visible that the lock-entrance/exit is not protected from the weir-stream, causing a choppy environment – forcing the helmsman (in our case: helmswoman) to go for it fearlessly.

From Azy-sur-Marne to the overnight stop, at La Ferté-sous-Jouarre, took us 3,5 hours, 34 kilometers (21 miles) 4 locks included. Yes, downstream is like racing! This picture shows the mooring facility, which is the same as shown two weeks ago, but from the opposite side, another angle and substantially closer. One would never guess. We suggested that, on the way back, we might visit the town hall and tell you all about its beautiful and interesting contents. Unfortunately we had to learn that the town hall is open to the public only the first Tuesday of any month – after making an appointment, not to forget. First opportunity Tuesday the 2nd of September. We choose to skip that one. Another possibility is, well: was, visiting the museum dedicated to one of the towns celebrities, the painter André Planson. Alas, dear reader, that museum is closed the entire month of August…

La Ferté-sous-Jouarre was left after three nights (of free electricity and water – and no museums) on Friday the 28th of August. We were the last ship to leave at 10:10AM without a clear plan where to stop that day. One of the first things that happened to us, after 3 kilometers (1,85 miles) of cruising was a commercial, leaving from his mooring just in front of us. We had to use the breaks, so to speak. He must have seen us, we can’t imagine that a commercial leaves a mooring without looking back first… No problem by the way, he has to make a living and we have all the time in the world. But strange it was; why not inform us by VHF? He was a lot faster than us, the first lock was after 7,5 kilometers (4,7 miles) and he was never to been seen even there.

La Marne (she's so lovely)

Although the sun was behind the clouds most of the day, La Marne remains a beautiful river under any circumstances and the clouds were stunning. Here we are approaching the railway bridge, followed by the road bridge at Trilport, 8 kilometers (5 miles) apart from our destination for the day.

Again it was a fast journey that day, we travelled over 44 kilometers (27,5 miles), descended 2 locks and ended up at Meaux where we saw the majority of the ships again that had left La Ferté-sous-Jouarre before us. There was a space left for us, the ropes were brought in place at 3:45PM, just a bit more than 5,5 hours of problem-free cruising. It’s the same ‘Halte Fluviale’ as shown by the last picture of week 32. That one was from the bridge towards the north. This one is from ship-level towards the east.

Not far from where we are at Meaux there’s a petrol-station where one liter of diesel (‘Gazole’) costs € 1,277. Our gauge was on 80% and we know that means about 250/300 liters. We do not want to pay a fortune for the full tank-capacity. This picture shows what the task on the Saturday for the male part of the two of us was: get your folding bike and jerry cans and buy lots of diesel. Now!

When in Compiègne (week 30) we were moored opposite Sarl Max Guerding et Fils. They have, among other things, a large chandlery. At long last we could lay our hands on a siphon, that’s to say: one that really works! Earlier we bought one in Belgium (we enjoyed Belgium hugely, no misunderstandings about that) that didn’t do anything so we had to do it all manually – see week 29. This time we bought 260 liters. Six times 2 jerry cans of 20 liters each, one time 1 jerry can. No back problems, the siphon does the job marvelously. Holding the siphon as shown here proved to be unnecessary; the siphon kept in position automatically. Great! Bye for now!