Lost and Found

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28/5/2013

It's nice waking up to a beautiful morning on a tree-lined canal with nothing to disturb the "serenity" than the occasional quack of wild ducks. 

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Yes, we share the canals with ducks and swans and their springtime offspring (so cute!), cranes and fish, of course. There are anglers all along the canals and we try to be considered, slow down and navigate carefully around their cast lines. 

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So, this morning a strange phenomena was seen in the sky, yellow and round, and most importantly: warm!

We set off with renewed energy to meet up with the lock keeper from the previous day at 9am sharp. The English/Australian family was moored just before the lock and being very active had already explored the near-by village. 

The lock of Pontangey was the first of another 17 to Dijon. From here the lock keepers follow the barges and cruisers by motor scooter along the tow ways for 3-6 locks until the next one takes over.

Everything started off really well with the other boat, the lock keepers and us taking turns and sharing all the hard lock work:

catching ropes and looping them around bollards, opening and closing the lock gates and controlling the bucking boats against the flood from the sluices. 

3 locks on disaster struck! Well maybe not sooo dramatic, but we realised that our side stepladder which I needed to get back into the boat once the gate had opened, had been knocked off and sunk down into the lock. Austin was determined to berth the boat outside of the lock and go fishing for it, while the lock keeper said something what sounded like "fat chance" in French and told us that we might not be able to get any further today, if we stopped now.

After all our previous delays I was quite willing to let the ladder lay to rest for the sake of "getting somewhere"!

Not so Captain Nemo! Equipped with a grappling hook on a 15 m rope he drenched the lock, and low and behold - he pulled out the ladder from the depth!

Unfortunately the next lock was already closed and up when we arrived. The doom and gloom keeper turned quite friendly and told us we had another chance after lunch when a hotel barge would be descending and the lock open our way. 

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The barge inched into the lock with millimetres to spare and as it was leaving, Austin was ready to cast off. I was watching from the bridge and saw the boat rock but not move while mud was stirred up to the surface. Somehow it looked as if Austin was stuck on the mooring! As I ran to the rescue, the Freshwater broke free - and soon enough I spotted the culprit! One of the fenders had got caught on the mooring, then ripped off and was floating adrift. "Another 55 euro" I thought and dived onto my stomach just catching the piece of rope still attached!P1010762P1010753

From then on, us being the only boat going upwards to Dijon, everything ran smoothly and quickly.

Lots more pushing gates open, but we were happy to be on our way. I could feel my pecs, triceps and serratus anterior growing by the minute. As the Canal de Bourgogne has 189 locks I will be ready to enter a body building contest by the time we'll reach Paris - for sure!

We arrived in Dijon just after 5pm to a friendly welcoming wave and phone call from Jill from across the basin. 



© Austin Robinson 2019