Our Barge, Odysseus

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Down the Nivernais Canal August 5-9

We left the canal bank about 9:30 am and entered the first lock on the downhill side of the Nivernais. After that first lock there was what is called a "stairstep lock;" the boat exits one lock directly into the next. The first stairstep was two locks then about 45 minutes later a three lock complex followed just a couple hundred feet later by a two lock complex. It was time for the lunch closure as we completed the three locks so, after some maneuvering, we pulled into the first of the two lock combination, which was already set up for our descent, to have our lunch. When I went below to shut off the engine, something smelled a little funny. Further investigation revealed that we had ruptured a hose carrying coolant from the external cooling pipes back into the engine, much of our coolant was now in the bilges and we had a seriously overheated engine! As we had no replacement hose, I was going to have to bicycle the 8 km back to Baye where there is a big hire boat base, buy some hose (if they have it), and return before we could continue on. There was a boat waiting to enter the lock, however, so first we had to get out of the way.

We're in the center of the three lock combination. That boat below the two lock combo will have to wait 'til after lunch.

It was back to the old canal days as we used line and human power to pull the boat from one lock to the next and then out of that lock to the bank below where we could tie up to try to make repairs.
They did have the hose in Baye and after a 2 1/2 hour delay, we set off again for out next stop, Chatillon en Bazois.

Set up on a bluff over the Aron River and the Nivernais Canal, Chatillon en Bazois boasts a beautiful, privately owned chateau built on the site of the ancient fortress of the Sires of Chatillon.

The owners provide guided tours during the summer months and we were able so see some of the interior but, unfortunately, no pictures were allowed. The furniture and fixtures are elegant and ornate (think Ming Dynasty figurines and oil portraits from the 18th century) but with modern touches; the owners do live there at times.
They also have a full time gardening staff and early in the morning we spotted the head gardner dealing with moles as I'm sure many would like.

We did hear a gunshot a little later so we assumed he got his rodent.

We made an overnight stop in the small town of Pannecot (where the advertised pizza restaurant is no more; the port captain said without the bread delivery truck in the morning "we would starve!") and Cercy la Tour (we thought that sounded like a vaudeville act, especially when we noted on our charts the nearby town of Les Brunettes). We left Cercy early because we wanted to get to the days final destination, Decize, before the lunch closure of the locks. Luckily we did because it turned out their was a "Concourse de Peche,", a fishing tournament, scheduled to begin a 9 am. The French are very serious about their fishing and it would have been a nightmare to interfere.

As we were about halfway down the line, the whistle sounded at 8:50 and the bait balls began to hit the water and just as the 9 am whistle sounded for the fishing to begin we were in the clear.
We arrived at Decize, the end of the Nivernais Canal just a little after noon, having cleared the last lock at 11:45. After 187 kilometers and 110 locks, we thought we'd take a couple days off.

No comments: