Our Barge, Odysseus

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Much Ado…Saturday, July 10

We left Mulhouse late Friday morning. It is about 14 k from town to the canal's confluence with the Rhine River where there is an overnight stop and we wanted to be ready to get an early start with the "big water" on Saturday morning.
There used to be a small canal, the Canal Rhone au Rhine Branche Nord, that went directly from Mulhouse to Strasbourg, our next major destination, but when the Rhine was canalised, it fell into disrepair. Now you must enter the Grand Canal, mingle with the huge Rhine barges for about 40 k until you can enter a side canal that travels 22 k to the city of Colmar. After visiting there it's 22 k back to the river for a short 25 k transit where there is a turnoff to the remains of the northern branch of the Canal Rhone au Rhine into Strasbourg. Since it is basically the Rhine, along with those giant barges is a significant current, about 5 k per hour on the day we traveled. Since we're going downstream, however, our usual leisurely 6.5 k per hour turned into 11. Screaming Odysseus!
Along with giant barges are the required giant locks. We would do 4 on Saturday, the first with Jeff and Helen on their beautiful Linssen motoryacht "Kairos."

Tim shows his manliness while Kairos prepares to leave the lock.

Luckily, since these locks fall about 15 meters (about 45 feet), the bollards that you tie to are floating; as the water flows out of the lock, the bollards drop with it. Line handling is very easy under those circumstances. Don't know how we'd cope otherwise!

This nearly 100 meter barge was leaving the Fessenheim lock.

Right about 3 pm we left the Grand Canal and ducked into the much smaller Colmar Embranchement. About an hour later we were tied up in the small village of Kunheim, safe and sound, with plenty of time for a little swimming before our aperitif.

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