August, 2012 browsing by month


Wednesday Aug 29 Fouchecourt near end of Saone

Tuesday, August 28th, 2012

I am at km. 381 and will be entering the Canal de Vosges which will lead me to the outskirts of Nancy, then I take the Canal de Marne au Rhin to the Marne. The locks are becoming closer together and I will pass through over 100 locks from here till Paris… Monday night I anchored out at k.m. 303.5.  A peaceful spot. Not a sound. The smell of fresh mown grass and cow dung.  I could hear the call of a night bird. Not sure if it was an owl. A loud call followed by a staccato. Early in the morning a combine was harvesting the corn beyond the river tree line. I went through at
least 6 locks. Small ones, as little as a 4 feet rise. Some of them are manned/womened  by students and they pick up your lines with a boat hook and start the lock cycle. You are expected to
return their favor with a 1 Euro coin. I had heard/read about that some of the lock keepers sell produc from their gardens. Today in one lock that was the case, see pictures. I also had my first experience going through two tunnels. Dug through a hill. See pictures below. The first one was close to 1/2 mile long. The Saone has become shallower and I have gotten stuck a few times. I got an early start Tuesday morning at 6.30 and got stuck hard and just could not get off the shallow spot. I decided to wait for a boat going my direction to pull me off. But I managed to get off. Then I
discovered that the tunnel lock did not open for business till 9 a.m. In one of the locks I went through with a bumper boat with a couple and their mother/mother in law from Bern. The four of us sang “Vogelisi” to the amusement of the lock tender. I learned this skiing in Adelboden with Suselii Stern from Bern in the late seventies. The other day I met other Swiss travelers and they told me that during the 2nd World War there were many English, Canadian and US pilots who had parachuted out of their bombers, after being shot by German flak, over Switserland who ended up being kept in custody in Adelboden hotels. And till this day the hotels and even the locals serve the traditional English tea in the afternoon.

I tried entering the marina here last night and again hit the ground. Just like the Main and Danube many of the marinas are not set up for keel boats and they do not put a sign of the draft at their entrance. A little further up the river I managed to get pulled through the muck and ended up about two feet from the dock and slept at a slight heel. Hope I’ll be able to get off in the next ten minutes.

The weather has improved over the weekend but still had a few light showers yesterday. I am wearing socks again and jeans and sleep with a wool blanket. Feels like home.


Aug 25, Saturday Evening Post, Seurre on the Saone and Monday Aug 27

Monday, August 27th, 2012



From Trevoux at KM 31 I made it to KM 113 in Tournus, last night, a little over 80 k.m. There was just one lock. My new technique works reasonably well, using just one line attached just aheah of midships to hold the bow in check and the other end led around the lock mooring post and then down to my jib sheet lead block brough to just aft of midship then I run the end of the line around the jib winch. Sounds simple but I still managed to have a panic the first of the two locks today because there was a knot in the long line, the lock doors started closing and water was rushiing in. Anyway I survived that one. And a lesson learned. Yesterday I got caught in a horrendous down pour and thunder and lightning. Today it rained most of the day. Not good for pictures. Tournus is a delightful old city. Seurre is a town of 2600 folks. Also has some very interesting and historic sights. I was stopped just short of the marina because of hydro races going on. There were fire works in the evening.

Sunday: went to 10.30 mass at Saint Martin. Delightful church with an old ship model hanging from the rafters. This church also alternates every other Sunday. The priest is from Kinshasa he gave a wonderful sermon about choises we make. The epistle was from the old testament where Joshua asks the Israelites to make choice between the gods of the people’s land he had led them to and the Lord.  “Choose you this day whom ye will serve; … but as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord” (Josh. 24:2, 15). And the gospel was from the new testament where Jesus tells his followers that things may become a little tougher and a number of his disciples leave him. Then he asks the remaining twelve who they choose for and then Peter gives the well known answer. It kind of ties in to my observations that too many Europeans have made a choise that, in the good times, just like the Israelites after their 40 years in the desert and at Joshua’s question had been living in the land of plenty, they do not need the Lord any longer. Off my soap box and pulpit the lock just beyond Seurre was opened after the Sunday morning hydro races were done at noon, but I still managed to better than 60 kms and am now at KM 252 ??? in Pontailler sur Saone. I should be out of the Saone in two days. It did not rain yesterday but was cov ered with dark clouds. The locks have become miniscule and only have like a 6 foot drop but there will be many more of them from here on. I had a nice visit on my neighbor’s boat from Ireland, Eddie, Laura and Cytha. C

Thursday Aug 23rd Trevoux on the Saone

Thursday, August 23rd, 2012

This is going to be short because my battery is nearly empty. I only covered a little more than 30 k’s today. Left at noon because of thundershowers. We had to miss two shifts in the one lock because of commercial traffic and spent over an hour waiting. Wednesday nigth I was aboard the Durban boat. Margie celebrated her 60th birthday. Coincidence because Ce-Ce who will be joining me in Paris, celebrated her 60th in 2009 in the Virgin Islands when I met her.  The Saone is definetely more attractive than the Rhone with small villages rolling hills and river edge castles. No more floating bollards in the locks and I have to review my techniques in these smaller locks. The water rushes in from the front instead of coming up from below. I had a heck of a time controlling the boat. More thunder and lightning and heavy showers during the night. It is now Friday morning.

Wednesday August 22nd Lyon on the Saone

Wednesday, August 22nd, 2012

I left late morning from Les Roches de Condrieu and had a reasonable fast 41 k.m. trip, two locks,  to Lyon where I arrived at 17.30h This is a new small municipal visitors marina in an area called Confluence. The confluence of the Rhone and the Saone rivers. This was formerly an industrial river port area. But it is being rebuilt into a modern glass and steel city with condos and shopping malls.  This is very clever the way they built this but in my opinion this is all going to be deja-vu in 10/15 years. I think for the same money they could have built this to last a few years longer.

The marina was practical empty last night but today about ten boats came in, a number of them have met along the way and travel together through the locks. The moorage is reasonable, I pay 12 euro and they have good security with coded doors on all pontoons and nice showers.  Yesterday I met Robbie and Marge de Boer from Durban S.A. They are members of the Durban Y.C., where I spent many hours in December 2006 and January 2007. He has a gorgeous all wood, American white oak hull, Bruce Roberts designed motor yacht. Built in 2009 in Durban and shipped to Rotterdam. They have spent the last couple years cruising in Europe. He came as a 4 year old with his family to S.A. from Hoofddorp. This morning I took a ride up river to the down town area on a launch that is operated for the benefit of the shopkeepers in the large indoor mall and brought my folding bike. There is much to see in this city. It reminds me very much of Paris, along the river and the buildings and architecture, quite different from the more southern cities.

Visiting the mideval church of Saint Nizier was a treat. There are incredibly beautiful stained glass windows all through the church.

A big thunderstorm moved through last night. In the advance it made for some dramatic skies, see below. It hailed hard for a while and it gave a short welcome relief of the heat. In the lightning the solar panel kept going back on. Maybe I need try shine a flashlight on it at night.

It looks like the decision is made to make a side trip to Paris. I should have this sorted out with a friend, who is to fly in from Atlanta, in the next day or so.

I plan to get going again tomorrow on the Saone.

Tuesday Aug 21 onward to Lyon

Monday, August 20th, 2012

Since I have not heard back from other than Klaus and Florence in Bretagne I will postpone visiting the French friends for another time, from Amsterdam. This marina would have been a good place to leave the boat for a week or so. I am waiting to hear from my Canadian friend for possible company on the trip north to decide on stopping in Paris or to head for the Meuse through Belgium.

From Lyon onwards I will be on the Saone for over 350 KM with 24 locks, of which 15 in the last 99 km. This will be a much slower passage than from the Med to Lyon but there is much more to see along the way. After that I take the canal des Vosges and after that I would chose between continuing north on the canal de l’est or make a left turn to Paris.

Monday August 19, Condrieu near Lyon

Monday, August 20th, 2012

It turned out that mass is served every other Sunday at the R.C. church in St. Vallier. One priest for a number of the surrounding parishes. Makes me think of one of Geert Mak’s books “Hoe God verdween uit Jorwerd”. (How God disappeared from Jorwerd, Jorwerd is a small town in Friesland, the northern Dutch province that plays in “The Mastmakers’ Daughters”).

There was a strong southerly pushing me up against the current to Condrieu. I arrived here a 3 p.m. My new English friends, Robin and Wendy on “Pippin”, rose up with me through the one lock at Sablons and just left a while ago for Lyon. Sofar I have heard only from my friends near Concarneau about the plan to make a road trip from here to pay a visit to a number of friends in France, mostly in Bretagne and Normandie. Today I will try to contact a few more  and if I cannot make more dates with these friends I shall leave it for another occassion, possibly this winter or spring from Amsterdam. And I will then push off again today or tomorrow. There is a coin laundry here in the marina and I have the life lines covered with my laundry. The last time I was able to do a machine laundry load was late April on Chios, since then it was just boiling salt water aboard and rinsing with fresh water. I had to go for a long walk to a grocery shop. On Monday the smaller nearby shops are closed and some are closed for the summer holidays since their customers are gone as well.  “Vagabond” the motor yacht from Mechelen I met a few days ago waiting at a lock is here as well. I had watched, with some amazement, that they just tied the boat up to the floating bollards and then sat on their aft deck till it was time to exit the lock. I was always sitting midships pulling and pushing my fore and aft mooring lines, trying to control the constant changes in the direction the inflowing water was pushing the stern or the bow. I had done this through the 64 locks on the Main and Danube. Here on the Rhone it sometimes took all of my muscles and sore hands trying to keep the boat from pushing into the lock walls. But now I have borrowed from their set up and moved the lines in closer to midships and just tying them off. It gives me chance to go down below while the anywhere from 15 to 30 minute filling of the lock takes place. The scenery has changed from the flat delta to hills covered with vineyards.


Sunday morning Aug 19 KM 75 St. Vallier, Ardeche

Saturday, August 18th, 2012

Last night was the first opportunity to be tied to shore for the night. I have anchored out since I left Arles, last Wednesday. It has been a good trip thus far. The locks are deep anywhere from 12 to 23 meters. And I have done about 15 locks sofar. They all have floating bollards which makes it easy to singlehand though it takes some muscle power to keep the boat stable but I’m experimenting with some new rope-tricks. I’v met some very nice people along the way, waiting at the locks and last night here ate the small city pontoon. An English couple, Robin and Wendy from N.E. England on a Dutch built power boat they keep in Northern France. Wendy made dinner and we had much to talk about. We ended the evening at midnight with a good Irish whisky on their aft deck in the evening breeze. It is a good thing I’m on the water because they are also experiencing a moderate heatwave here. There is much less traffic on the Rhone than the Rhine and Danube. On Friday I did not see one commercial barge. Quite a few Scandinavian sailboats, mostly Danes, are coming down to the Mediterranean.

I am going to 10 o’clock mass here and then continue to KM 41 (41 k’s from Lyon) where there is supposed to be a good marina where I might be able to keep the boat at a reasonable cost from where I would like to go visit a number of my French friends, mostly in Bretagne. By train or possibly a rental car.

And I think that I shall then also try firm up my route. Today I received information from a German couple who went from Lyon Saone, Canal de Vosges, Canal de Est/ Maas to Nijmegen. Then Rhine  20 km upstream to the IJsel to Kampen. Then it will be easy to pick up the mast which will be delivered to Lelystad. This means a change from the plans I had to take the Moselle river. And it will give me a chance to go through Belgium and Liege where I have a mission to undertake for Rose Marie, our only foreign family member, my #2 daughter who has kept her Belgian citizenship since she was born in Brussels. I have more pictures but this connection does not allow it and I cannot send out e-mails from here. Tomorrow better.



Wednesday evening Aug 15, Arles

Wednesday, August 15th, 2012

The fuel hose problem has been solved. My search this morning was good excercise but then I found a very good replacement hose on the boat. I had bought this in Holland for the propane tank to the stove. It fit perfectly and the engine is back in business. It is a scary feeling to be on a boat that has no way to propel it, no mast and a non-working engine. Particular when the boat kept bouncing on the river bottom and I felt the need to move elsewhere. I hope the water stays calm for the nigth otherwise I’ll be bouncing around and tough to sleep through it.

There are at least 10 old magnificent churches in the old city center, not one is used as such. They are turned into museums, art galleries. There are live parishes in the suburbs. Last Sunday in Marseille in this beautiful old church there were just chairs set up for a 100 or so worshippers, a great organ and organist, but the priest had no one to help him with the service. I had hoped that I would be able to experience a procession on the feast of Mary’s Assumption. Not in Arles.

This time I have enough power left for the pictures.

Wednesday Aug 15 Arles

Wednesday, August 15th, 2012

It took me from early in the morning till noon to get the mast organized and purchase two more large ball fenders, which have already proven their usefulness.

I went through the first lock. I guess  have earned my skills with the 64 locks in 2010/2011. But there are no locks on the Rhone for the next 200 kms. Thanks evry one who sai aprayer for my being able to jeep the boat afloat with the picture on the previous blog of the sunken ketch. It almost happened to me late yesterday afternoon just before entering Arles. When I got down into the cabin water was standing above the floor boards. Water was gushing in from the stuffing box. I did not accurately asses the problem, water was high above the stuffing box. I tried tightening the hose clamps on the rubber stuffing box. That did not work. What had happened, I discovered later, the stuffing box had slipped off the shaft log and the the nut to control the drippage from the box was pushed up against the flex coupling. I took a couple of rags and tied them around the leak and then started the engine up. Then I smelled diesel fuel. I had accidentally tied the fuel hose into the rag and the whole stuffing box was spinning with the drive shaft and broke the fuel hose. I had to quickly close the tank valve and now I had no engine any longer. I was drifting back with the current. I put out a May Day. No one was responding. Then I was looking for a way to set the boat on a shallow spot but I could not get any steerage. Then rescue came in the way of a German boat I had passed earlier. They passed me and I yelled that I had “Grosse Probleme” they cam back and towed me to shore in Arles. Pumping like crazy. Then once tied up to the shore I figured out the problem and loosened the hose clamps and pushed the stuffing box back on the shaft log. I had a regular swimming pool inside the cabin. It ruined my laptop charger. But, for once, holding on to old parts saved the day. I still had the charger for the Acer laptop I bought in 2006 in Cape Town. It works on the newer Acer but has to be kept down with duct tape.

I spent all morning trying to find a fuel hose replacement. All shops are closed because Mary’s Ascension is a national holiday and when I cycled out of town to a service station it was only accessible with credit cards. So, I’m stuck here till tomorrow. But there is lots to see here. But I’m  not real secure in my moorage. When a barge comes past the keel bounces on the river bottom.

I had hoped to be able to see a procession for the feats day but apparently none in Arles.

I;m out of juice, no pictures today.

Monday August 13. Port St.Louis de Rhone

Monday, August 13th, 2012

I feel like I am ahead of schedule. I shall be ascending the Rhone tomorrow morning. The mast is down and arrangements are made for to p.u. the mast here, next week and deliver it to Lelystad, Holland. This will make this trip a lot easier than the Danube trip with the mast always in the way.

It was a short motor trip from Marseille. I decided to anchor out in a salt bay near here so that I could observe the pleiades meteor shower. I stuck my head out a few times during the night but in a half hour period I saw 4 quick flashes. Nothing very different from a night out on the ocean. The spot here where I had the mast removed has a good size marine (sail only) chandlery, rigging and spar shop. A Robot is crunching away in a side office and these people produce a full line of very interesting hardware as varied as, say a Harken brand. They will totally custom outfit any boat, particular long distance cruisers. The shop is called SeaTex. www.seatex,fr  A very nice couple from Bonn on their way into the med from the Rhone gave me their charts for the Rhone and Saone. I also purchased my vignette for the French waters on line. About 100 earoes for one month. So, I am all set.