Friday, 26 September 2014

Monday 15th September 2014 Givet to abv Vanne-Alcorps lock. 20.5kms 6 locks

The fort on the rock, Charlemont, Givet
10.7°C Sunny and warm with nearly no wind. Wispy mist coming up off the river first thing. Mike went to Carrefour City for bread, they’d got that - but no milk or mushrooms. Set off twice, the first time we had to go back as Mike wasn’t sure if he’d locked the car, he had, we set off again at 10.05 am. They were in process of building a new piled quay, about 150m long, by the slate quarry below Trois Fontaines lock (now we know why the very wide flood gates above Quattre Cheminees – so big boats like Tatiana can load there). There was a keeper in residence at Trois Fontaines (although the lock was made
Leaving the quay at Givet
automatic years ago) he took a rope for me in the deep lock (3.28m lift) which was needed anyway as this lock pulls the boat forward hard as it fills. Through the 565m long tunnel which cuts off about a six kilometre loop of the river around the nuclear power station at Choos, and into the lock at Ham, also keeper operated, (again automated years ago but, as far as we know, never used). A DB called Klaus Companeas came down Ham and the skipper called uson VHF, he and Mike had a brief chat. He was off down the river for about 100kms he said. Mike said we were glad to be getting back to calmer waters. Nobody came to hook a rope for us in Ham, another deep one
Post to aim the telecommand at for zapping
at 3.20m, which pulls hard forward again, so I used the ladder, but with the force of the pull forward it was difficult to change rungs. A young guy came out of the lock cabin as we left. Nearly 5kms to the next. A kingfisher flew from perch to perch upriver with us for nigh on a kilometre, the first one we’d seen for ages. The river was very still, hardly a breeze and minimal flow, enclosed by beautiful hills covered in forest. Zapped the post before Mouyon lock, it emptied and we went up 1.60m. There were three VNF vans at the lock house – it was lunchtime, so to be good we threw a
Liftbridge over the end of the lock cut at Ham
rope around a bollard. Plum trees on the lockside were dropping ripe fruit all over the grass, red admiral butterflies were enjoying them. A short lock cut lead back on to the river and I took a photo of the traditional needle weir (barrage d’aiguilles) as it may not be here next time we come this way – currently there is a battle going on between the VNF and its staff as the job of barragiste (weir keeper) will disappear when all the river weirs are made automatic. Around the bends, passing through Virieux Wallerand, where the mooring
Sculpture by Georges Favaudon on the riverbank at Aubrives
quay for plaisance had been extended to both up and down stream of the road bridge, with a Capitanerie in an old house and electric day boats for hire. As we went up Montigny (2.5m rise) I made some lunch, which we ate as we travelled along the 5.3kms of winding river up to Fèpin. The lock emptied, but the gates didn’t open. We stooged about below the lock in the short lock approach channel (nowhere to moor or get off) and I called the number on the new leaflet we’d had from Quattre Cheminées, the Givet section was actually the
Garden observatory at Haybes
number for that lock. The lady who answered said she would send someone. Not long afterwards two vans arrived, one from upstream of the lock and one from downstream, four VNF men got out of their vans, three leaned on the paddle box and had a chat and one went in the cabin and worked the lock for us from the control panel in the cabin. A lady cyclist had stopped to watch the proceedings. Just a 2.12m rise and we were on our way again. On upriver into Haybes, passing the hire base for Gyropods (Segways) and a café. A two car diesel train went past, very gaily and colourfully painted.  In the garden of a
Wild mooring in the lock cut at Vanne-Alcorps
riverside house there was an observatory. Just a couple of electric hireboats were moored on the new quay at Haybes, plus a cruiser with boards on its roof advertising it as for charter with skipper, it was called Charly. At the back of the quay there was a row of parked campervans and a couple of fishermen were trying their luck downstream of the quay. On up the lock at Vanne-Alcorps and we rose another 2.14m, winded and moored next to the piled edge in the lock cut, carefully, as there are submerged rocks but we’d been here before and followed the Lat and Long from our GPS to moor exactly where we’d been last time. It was 3.15pm. Mike trimmed the herbage along the bank to limit the paths for insects and spiders to climb aboard. At 4pm a loaded Dutch péniche came past to test our mooring, Veridis Quo went past very, very slowly and Mike had a chat with the three young Dutchmen on board as they went by. They said they were going to Givet and Mike said not tonight as the locks close at six. They said for them it’s seven (and, I read from the leaflet we had from 4 Cheminées, that they can put the VNF on call out for the next hour until eight pm). About an hour later a cruiser went past, also very slowly, heading towards Fumay. 

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