Port de Roanne

An aerial view again of Roanne’s harbour, combined with the River Loire. Our good ship is moored on the right hand side of the harbour (‘the city side’), roughly at 1/3 from the end. The canal, commencing in the middle foreground is fed by the river through the harbour. Subsequently the water in the harbour is permanently moving/refreshed. A narrow feeder canal, leading from the river into the harbour, is just visible on the left hand side – in front of the apartment building. Nowadays the weir in the river has for 25% (on the left bank) changed into a modest hydro-electric power station.

On this picture the river is visible in the background, together with the small canal underneath the bridge and leading towards the harbour. The heavy door will be closed when the river is in spate – which will inevitably happen between now and, say, the end of April. Several times we were guaranteed that the harbour is ‘always’ safe. Well, we sincerely hope so, as we have had some nasty experiences in recent years, in the UK (Thames!) as well as in France (Loing!). Just for the sake of information: the door hinges on the harbour-side. ‘Pffff logical’, you’d say. Yes, it is.

This is the feeder canal as seen from the fixed bridge. The lower, blue, bridge is able to swing so there’s a possibility to enter the river Loire from the harbour and vice versa.

Where the harbour changes into the Canal latéral de Roanne à Digoin a shallow lock (2 feet) regulates the water supply into the canal. When we arrived, on the 7th of October, only one paddle was in the ‘open’ position and topped up the amount of water in the canal, that is: the pound between the first and the second lock at a distance of some nine kilometers. The use of locks of course causes loss of water (already 400(!) m³ when a lock is only 2 meters (6’6) deep – you are invited to calculate the gallons, be it UK or US, yourself) so permanent feeding is essential – one way or the other. Sometimes, in case of heavy rain for instance, it’s the other way around. Then it’s a matter of overflow; be it a dedicated arrangement next to the lock or the lock itself. On this picture even all four paddles are opened. It has been a fairly dry period lately, that’s probably why.

The lock seen in the direction of the Canal latéral de Roanne à Digoin. It shows a part of the uplifted paddle-gear in the foreground, the swirling water inside the lock and the obviously permanent opened gate at the tail end.

Don’t think one can do whatever one likes. Oh no, there are rules to be obeyed! It’s amazing to see how many people are walking around the harbour on a sunny day like today – Sunday the 20th of October (2013). Loads of them, sometimes leaning over towards our ship with their faces inches away from our windows, just to peep inside shamelessly. This morning one of us climbed the stairs up to the wheelhouse and caught three men completely unashamed studying and discussing every detail of the interior. They did not quite know how to walk on in dignity, as if it was common practice what they had been doing.

Next to ‘our’ harbour there is an almost luxury facility for camper-vans. Not too expensive and both electricity and water are available. By the way, a lot of the ‘Haltes Fluviale’ in France offer a facility similar to this one. So all camper-van owners we know, planning to over-winter in Italy, Spain or Portugal, be invited to have a stopover at Roanne. You’ll not regret it!

This is what our residence looks like during this winter. When the sun shines…

…and this is what it looks like when fog strikes. Speaking about fog: can you imagine that this is among the worst conditions under which to cruise. There is only one wish when fog occurs – and that is to find a place to moor now, I mean: now!

Electricity is taken from connections on the shore; 16 amps to be precise. That’s ok, so long we do not use the hot water-system and the washing machine at the same time. It is a sort of luxury not to have to check the level of the batteries permanently. Having a 24 volt system we always try to keep the level of the (10) domestic batteries at least at that voltage. We succeeded by (1) cruising and thus driving the engine-mounted alternator or (2) using our generator or (3) connecting to the mains. Now we do not have to check our gauge as the voltage is permanently nearing 27 volts. Water comes from underneath the small metal cover. Underneath it is a tap fitted, possibly in this position to avoid freezing. It makes taking water a bit awkward but not to worry about that, our water tank is huge.

Skip this picture if you get bored. It’s another one of the place we’ll be for the rest of this year, followed roughly by three months next year.

The text underneath this one could be copied from the previous one. That, however, is a bit too cheap. It’s just that we like to show you where we are. Our neighbour in front of us still has to arrive. We are told that perhaps we have to move back another meter or so, but we have measured the space in front of us. There is 18 meters (60 feet, the length of our ship) left and his boat is reportedly 16 meters (53 feet) long. Therefore we think that we will be able to stay put. What’s the importance of 1 meter? we hear you say. Not that much, is the answer, but the bollards are in the ideal position for us now.

The last one of the harbour… Every now and then we meet, believe it or not, a genuine narrowboat. From England. In France! There are a few moored in this harbour too, as this picture proves.

‘Le Capitainerie’ of our harbour. It is a handsome building and in it resides the capitain, a nice French guy, overseeing and directing all that is happening here. He even delivers the mail to all residents, providing they have a mailbox attached to their ship. Therefore we will buy a small brown mailbox, remove (at last!) the useless cat-flap and fit a mailbox instead. The capitain arranged for a diesel tanker (by road, to avoid a misunderstanding) and –in a few weeks from now- the delivery of 2 m³ wood for our stove.

The second picture shows that we are supposed to be safe from the river but it was a different situation in the past. Even the distant past as it was almost 150 years ago that the river Loire inundated this area.

In the 80s of the last century we lived for 10 years in the midst of The Netherlands’ bible-belt. The expression ‘Deo Volente’ (God Willing) was used frequently, for meetings, weddings, house-names etc. And there is this boat in this very harbour, one could say christened with the same name. There are more conspicuous names, of course. We liked ‘Gretige Henriette’ (Eager Henriette) the best. There is also ‘Taboe’ (Taboo), ‘Avontuur’ ((Ad)venture), ‘Eendracht’ (Harmony, Concord), even ‘Frutseltje’ (we pass here, suggestions welcome…). All Dutch names – and there are many more.

Flags in abundance too. Dutch (pictured), French, English, German, Belgian, Swiss, American and maybe more. Not to forget the DBA-pennant! It’s an international happening here. One meets a Frenchman only by chance. (Just joking.)

La Loire on Saturday the 19th of October 2013. Not a lot of difference compared to last week. Not a lot? Not a lot?? Nothing at all! It will change we think. No idea when, though. A la semaine prochaine!