Thursday, 5 July 2018

Hard work to and through Reims

Hard Work to and through Reims

Thursday 5th July.  

Val de Vesle.  51360

Day 17.  Saturday 30th June.  Sun 30 degrees. Rowed 21 Kms.  In Monampteuil. Now rowed 224kms. Driven 360.5 miles.

Day 18. Sunday 1st July. Sun 30 degrees. Rowed 16 Kms to pk 32 Maizy, Canal Lateral a l'Aisne. ( Including extra 3kms to make up milage lost from being banned from the tunnel) Now rowed 240 km, Driven 382.8 miles.

Day 19. Monday 2nd July. Sun 33 degrees. Rowed 12.5kms to Berry au Bac (confluence) Now rowed 252.5kms and Driven 397.7 miles.

Day 20. Tuesday 3rd July. Sun 30 degrees then thunder showers. Rowed 13 Kms (9 locks) to Courcy pk13 Canal de l'Aisne a la Marne. Now rowed 265.5kms and driven 409 miles

Day 21 Wednesday 4th July. Sun 33 degrees. Rowed 27.5 kms and 7 locks to Val de Vesle pk 40.5. Now rowed 293km and driven 439 miles.

Day 22. Thursday 5th July. Cloudy and afternoon storms.

Rest day. Spent the day cleaning and maintenance on gear and doing this blog.

We really have had a bit of everything over the past few days. Starting with the drive back to yesterday's finish and steady pull back to the camping at Monampteuil. Why did we bother? Did France win the world cup or something? There were large groups on the site making noise, shouting and letting off Sally frightening bangers until 2am so little sleep.

We are now in the canal world of the l'Aisne a la Marne with dozens of locks, all generated to larger vessels than mine. Let me explain. Firstly, we were supplied with an electronic Telecommande, which are brilliant when they work. Other locks just have an hanging pole on the approach which must be turned, but requires a serious acrobatic balancing act standing on the thwarts of a dinghy.

On entry a vessel must interrupt a light beam for 15 seconds to represent a large boat. I use a supermarket bag on a boat hook (difficult in a wind)

Inside, one ties up and pulls on a slimey steel bar which sets everything in motion. This has proved to be impossible from my unstable platform. If Sara is there and the lock is not fenced off its no problem but often neither applies so I tie the painter over my shoulder, climb a muddy ladder and operate it myself, watching Oggi fight the influx of water on her own. 

Once completed the exit gates open automatically and I depart waving my supermarket bag as before.

It is not just me with the problem. Sara and Sally have to find their way in remote areas down the narrowest of cart tracks then reverse out. Or she comes bumping down the tow path with Sally riding in the box on the front or enjoying a good run behind. In between times she has to set up and break camp, get the shopping, prepare an healthy diet for me and charm the authorities to prepare the way and so on. Who said women can't read maps, mine is brilliant!

Back to the rowing side of things though most of the time it is just 'slash, splash, splash' 26 to the minute cursing the plus 30 degrees heat and floating islands of weed and just keep going working out how to get over the next navigational problem, too many to mention in a summary blog such as this but enjoying every minute of it ( silly old fool!)

As previously said the route took us through idyllic countryside, noisy industrial areas, the historic city of Reims through which I portaged the boat because I couldn't reach the pole to trigger the chain of 3 locks,a host of pretty villages, and now the first vineyards. For two days I was fighting a 2/3 km/hr current and strong headwinds which really took it out of me. However yesterday with wind and current dropped I achieved a 27.5 km and 7 locks before the evening sit down and beer time. Today is a day of much needed R and R on a campsite rather than the last 3 days of wild camping.

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