Three days later we were back on the barge and preparing for our departure along the Canal du Rhone au Rhin. Our son Adam and his friend Luke were due to arrive in a few days, having spent a month inter-railing around Eastern Europe.
Despite our increasingly unreliable internet connection, we received news that they were closer than expected and would arrive in Dole the following evening. With this in mind we decided to wait at Bourgogne Marine and set off with them.
Relaxing after a busy month in Eastern Europe.
On their arrival and after a first evening of chilli, lots of wine and catching up; we collected our remote control lock ‘zapper’, craned the motor cycle back onto the barge at the lock and left.
Enough of trains for a while.
By lunch-time we were moored up at Abergement La Ronce, where we met up with Adam’s friends Megan and Cal who were driving to the Alps to do some climbing.
They spent a couple of days with us and it was great to see them all relaxing together on deck in the sunshine. The first day’s scenery was rather mixed with an extensive industrialised area where mooring was prohibited because of the chemicals produced in the factory there. We had even been issued with a leaflet explaining what to do if the siren sounded!
We stopped for the night on a pontoon at Croisey which enabled Adam and co to visit a nearby supermarket for supplies of Desperados – their preferred drink.
The following day, unable to moor at Dole we continued on to Rochefort-sur-Nenon and Peter went back to collect the car. We had moved it there from Bourgogne Marine before we had left.
The weather remained dull and overcast for several days but the scenery improved dramatically – sometimes on the canal and sometimes on the River Doubs. The locks were very narrow, leaving only a few inches either side of the fenders. The stop locks (of which there are many in case the river floods) and the bridges were also very challenging, especially those on a bend.
Narrow locks and unprotected weirs.
Moorings were also few and far between and often in use; so we started using the pontoon moorings at locks, ignoring the ‘No Mooring’ signs. In any case, as the locks are now controlled by a zapper, there is no real need to stop at the pontoons ‘en passant’.
No mooring ?
We had hoped to stop on the quay at Ranchot, but the available space was too short so we continued to the lock pontoon. That too was taken; so we cruised a short way up the weir stream and moored on the opposite bank, Adam jumping off to secure our ropes to a couple of large trees.
Our next stop was below the lock at Rosel Fluans from where I cycled back to collect the car at Ranchot before dropping it up to Osselle and cycling back to the barge. Meanwhile a fishing competition ensued, which lasted the duration of Adam and Luke’s visit.
The scenery on the Canal du Rhone au Rhin was becoming really pretty, with forested hills on either side and frequent rocky outcrops which I am sure the chaps would love to have climbed had they brought their gear.
Moving off from the ‘Nature Mooring’
Just below Torpes on a lovely ‘nature mooring’ (according to our waterways guide,) we stopped by a weir opposite a derelict paper factory with a huge brick chimney. Both Adam and Luke caught a Pike here while I went off shopping.
The weather improved and the following day, after driving to nearby Thoraise, I met the barge at the lock (Adam crewing) and we went through our first tunnel of the year. It was illuminated by fairy lights and had a waterfall at each end which we were assured would automatically stop on entry and exit. They did.
Exiting the waterfall tunnel.
Adam crews while Nicci moves the car.
We decided to head for Besancon, and arrived at the VNF mooring before the town mid afternoon. Later, having cycled back to Thoraise to collect the car, I decided that the best way to approach this town is by canal. Much of the town is under reconstruction with what we think is probably a new tram network, so it will be interesting to see how it looks when all the work is completed. Our VNF mooring by contrast was very quiet and had a great view of the Citadel which is illuminated at night.
The Citadel viewed from our VNF mooring.
We spent a couple of days at Besancon, exploring much of the town but leaving the Citadel for a future visit. While Adam and Luke booked their return train and air tickets using the internet in the Tourist Office in the centre, Peter and I tried unsuccessfully to get help with our wayward broadband connection in a Bouygtel Club shop. Having convinced us that the problem was not caused by them, we returned to the barge where Peter reluctantly reformatted the whole computer, but to no avail.
Having nursed our failing batteries efficiently since they first played up more than a year ago; we were annoyed to be awoken by the battery alarm at 2am the next morning, despite having charged them up late the previous evening. We turned the inverter off after charging them again and went back to sleep. Several weeks from our winter port at Toul and with more friends still to visit, it couldn’t have happened at a worse time.
We decided to leave the mooring and either move to the centre of town or carry on up the canal. Owing to the road and bridgeworks, the Besancon ‘Loop’ was shut so after passing through the lock we went straight through the tunnel.
As we exited we decided to turn upstream towards the River Rhine and were rewarded by more stunning scenery. Stopping for the night on a pontoon at Novillars, the chaps launched our tender ‘Joey’ but had to row as the engine wouldn’t start.
I enjoyed another scenic but tiring cycle back to the VNF office to collect the car while Adam and Luke had great fun somersaulting and jumping into the rather fast flowing River Doubs.
Our next mooring was on another lock pontoon at Fourbannes, from where the chaps did more somersaulting into the river and I enjoyed a swim – not easy going upstream against the current. Later the fishing competition continued while I cycled once again to get the car and Peter prepared a barbecue.
Back to the fishing.
After the leaping about Adam decides to go radical with the hair !
I had just returned and the meal was almost ready when after a few pathetic squeaks the inverter packed up completely……………….we now had no electrics at all!
Simultaneously, I went down into the stern cabin bathroom and found myself paddling around in an inch of water! Rather foolishly I had left my swimming costume to soak in the sink (plug in) and the faulty washer on the hot tap had evidently failed somehow, flooded the sink…..the bathroom floor and was making its way into the cabin.
I decided to wait until after we had eaten to break the news……………
So in failing light, Peter and Adam went into the engine room to hopefully locate the fault with the inverter and I took a bucket and sponge into the stern cabin to begin mopping up………………oh the joys of boating!!
Fortunately Peter found that the isolator switch on the inverter had failed and much to Adam’s consternation tested this by putting a screwdriver across the terminals creating contact and lots of sparks. This was immediately followed by cries of joy from us above in the wheelhouse, as the inverter sprang back to life!
We cut the bathroom carpet out and put it and the underlay out on deck to drain. Then we took up the floor boards and the following morning I continued the mopping up.
Fortunately the fine spell of weather continued for several days and we were able to get the carpet dried and re-laid without too much problem.
We spent their last weekend on a lovely mooring in Baume-les-Dames. Adam and Luke enjoyed more jumping, but this time from a high bridge and it was only after we had left the water that I noticed a ‘Baignade Interdit’ notice nearby.
The planning stage.
Bombing Nicci !
A bridge not too far.
So, what does the sign say ?
On Monday 10th September, we drove Adam and Luke to Besancon Station from where they caught a train to Lyon and then a flight to Luton- strangely a cheaper route than one through Paris.
Peter and I then went back to the Bouygtel shop in the centre and bought a new dongle which still had no effect at all on our internet coverage!