Deadlocked - the last day of boating

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Flag of France  , Bourgogne,
Friday, September 21, 2012

DQ and DM decided that an early start was appropriate today as we had a fair way to travel. In the end we achieved the distance fairly quickly although there were a few hiccups along the way.

We left around seven am, before the sun rose, although there was reasonable daylight. Again it was foggy and extremely cold. All the jumpers and jackets were out. The highlight of the short trip back down the Doubs River was the sun rising directly behind the boat through the fog.

We returned to the main river (the Saone) and immediately came to the first of a couple of large commercial locks with an operator perched in a cantilevered bridge above the lock. We arrived around 835 am. The lock-keepers seem to work gentlemen's hours, not turning up until 900am. After a further short delay, we entered the lock, tied up and the lock started to fill. We sat there at the top of the lock waiting for the lock to open and let us out the other end. After an eternity, the keeper came down and advised that there was an electrical fault and that the power company would not be there until one o’clock!! This made it breakfast time. As soon as we got this prepared and part eaten, the lock magically opened and we were on our way.

We continued on to the town of Seurre, where we bought enough for our final lunch on board. Seurre is a reasonable town, with quite a few facilities and some nice buildings. DM was desperate for sausages and he managed to locate and get through the door of the boucherie before the witching hour of noon.

We return to the boat and set off for our next lock. Again it seems to take an eternity; this time getting into the lock is the problem. Oh for one of the simple locks that we are able to operate ourselves. We finally get through after nearly an hour and DM is then able to cook his sausages. We have our final lunch on the run up the canal to St. Jean de Losne.

When we reach there it is around 3 pm, so we decide to take a short ride up the Canal de Bourgogne to Brazey-en-Plaine. This involves two more locks. One manual and one electric, both operated by lock-keepers. Both were a bit slow on the way up, but proceed without incident. We tied up near the village and had a short walk. All the usual features of a mildly lively small French town: bakeries, supermarket, restaurant and historic church.

We head back for the boat and return to St Jean de Losne. The first lock has electronic controls and should really only be operated by the lock keeper. We press on and have a go. We were pressing all the right buttons, but the controls were not working properly. We could only get the lock about three quarters full. The rain started. We make numerous phone calls and after an hour, the lock keeper arrives. Meanwhile DM has set off in the rain on a bike to call for help in the rain. The lock keeper also struggles to get the lock to work but after more time we finally get on our way.

Now where is DM? No sign of him. We find him in the warm lock-keepers hut at the final lock. Just for something different, this is a young female of generous proportions, so the situation had its funny side. We were so pleased to get through these two locks that we gave both of the keepers a tip.

It’s now time to tie up for the last time at Le Boat HQ at St Jean. DQ makes a perfect approach and we tie up, dry off, and have a champagne before heading to the town for a final dinner.

The rain means that dining outside is not possible. This has scared off the locals as well, with two restaurants (out of 5 in the town) closing early. The girls all choose the duck, with steak and frites, and rabbit chosen by the boys. DM braves the escargots as an entrée. The usual two bottle dinner. The Macon whites are really good value.

We set out back for the boat in the dry but half way back, it pours. A wet end to the trip. We return to the boat and have another wine, the Pommard 1er cru Les Rugiens from our lunch in Beaune, probably the best red for the trip.

The rain continued as we went to sleep. The bed in our cabin was wet, as the roof was leaking. Our last night’s sleep was therefore not our most comfortable.
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