Going underground. In a boat!

The French are casual about canal boating, which I completely agree with because it requires little skill to steer (though, a bit more to do it well). However, someone died in the Pouilly Tunnel few years back so they are more careful. We showed up at the VNF office (Voie Nautical France) at 9 a.m. and, after answering a few questions, were issued a handheld VHF and a form.

Tunnel Docs
Docs and handheld VHF
The tunnel is approximately 50 feet below where I am standing.

We were instructed (in french) to call when we entered and exited the tunnel. Then we headed back to the boat to put on our life vests (required in the tunnel) and write our last will and testaments…

It was a little scary – we have never sailed underground before. For 3.3 Km which, at 5 Km/Hr, is about 45 minutes. When the boat touched the tunnel sides is was not the well fendered-up hull, but the aluminum railing, which makes a horrible screeching noise. I am particularly proud we only touched twice, with less than a foot of clearance on either side of the boat.

Tunnel 2
Heading into the tunnel …”Ici Bray Sur Somme, on entre le tunnel”
Tunnel 3
View from under the street!
Tunnel 1
Sailing underground! Tons of room. Tons.

After 45 minutes we saw, thankfully, the sun again and it was “Ici Bray Sur Somme, ici Bray Sur Somme, On sorts le tunnel” and a very nice “Merci, monsieur, bonne journey!”  Whew!

Back to gorgeous Burgundian countryside.


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