Swimming with the big fish…. and the Seine!

On  a long day of motoring (we did not moor until 7 pm and hit the last last lock at closing time – 6:30 pm) we finished the Yonne portion of our adventure. The locks in the upper Yonne are huge and with quite a bit of commercial traffic.  The big barges completely fill the locks so you have to wait if one is ahead. To put this in perspective, 20-30 boats our size could easily fit in one of the locks.

Big Boys 1 Jun 15
Waiting on a big boy to pass so we can enter the lock

The commercial barges seem to act like independent truckers – they have living quarters (some even have cars on the back deck they can load and unload with the onboard crane). Interesting life!

The Yonne is lovely and we were completely alone for many hours yesterday. Unlike the Saône, however, there are few “nature” mooring opportunities and ones we saw were occupied by fisherfolk (after biking, fishing must be the most popular activity in France!) so you are restricted to mooring in towns. But they can be quite nice – our mooring in Montereau (where the Yonne joins the Seine) is just across from a great 12th century church.

Montereau Jun 15
From our mooring, Notre Dame et Saint Loup

And we can see the Seine from here! The traffic promises to be even more interesting (i.e. bigger barges) but we are only in it for 12 Km or so before turning south on the Canal du Loing.

Seine Jun 15
The Seine (just past the bridge)  from our mooring (in the Yonne).


One thing we’ve noticed in the two months we’ve been here is how the French like to take a thing and add “erie” to describe the maker or seller of the thing. For instance, boulanger is the verb to bake, and boulangerie is the baker or bread shop. Some are not even French words (jeannerie, gadgeterie, etc.) Here is my, as yet incomplete list, of  “Frencheries”.

  • Animalerie:  Pet Store
  • Billetterie: Ticket seller (Billet = ticket)
  • Boucherie: Meat Seller (Boucher = butcher)
  • Boulangerie: Bakery (Boulange = baker)
  • Bagagerie: Baggage seller.
  • Briquetterie: Brick Maker
  • Carterie: Card shop
  • Coifferie: Hair Salon?
  • Capitainerie: Harbor Masters Office
  • Cordonnerie: Shoe Maker/Repair
  • Cremerie: Creamery
  • Droguerie: Hardware/drugstore
  • Gadgeterie: Electronics (this is one of my favorites!)
  • Horlogerie: Clock repair/sales
  • Bijouterie: Jewelry store (Bijou = jewelry)
  • Imprimerie: Printer
  • Jeannerie: Jeans store (another favorite!)
  • Juiverie: Jewish quarter
  • Literie: Bedding (Lit = to sleep)
  • Maroquinerie: Leather goods (purses/belts)


  • Metallerie: Metal working
  • Ferronnerie: Iron Works
  • Mercerie: Hat shop ??
  • Onglerie: Manicurist (Ongle: Nail)
  • Papeterie: Stationery Store

Ferronnerie - Metallerie

  • Pataterie; Potato seller??
  • Poissonnerie: Fish Monger (Poisson = fish)
  • Quincaillerie: Hardware store
  • Retoucherie: Alterations Place
  • Saladerie: Salad place
  • Tannerie:  Tannery
  • Tapisserie: Tapestry maker
  • Teinturerie: Dyer/Dry Cleaner
  • Tresorerie: Treasury
  • Menuiserie: Carpentry Place


Eastern Loop ….. DONE!

Screen Shot 2017-04-12 at 4.30.40 PM
Eastern Loop: Legs 1-5 and part of Leg 6

After just over 7 weeks we have completed the eastern loop of our Burgundian canal adventure.  We left Joigny on May 21 and returned on July 11, traveling 920 kilometers, and traversing 431 locks. We had three sets of visitors and numerous adventures. Some involved bruises. We traversed the entire length of the Canal du Bourgoyne, had a lovely sample of the Saone River, travelled west on the Canal du Centre (doing a side trip down to Roanne) , then north on the Canal du Nivernais and back to Joigny on the Yonne. Thank you to all our visitors… Francis, Emilie, Richard, Jackie, David, Emory, John, Christin.. you all made the adventures more fun!

View from Locaboat base – May 20
Joigny July 11
View from Locaboat base – July 11

The Locaboat folks have been uniformly helpful and responsive. Our lovely boat, “Bray Sur Somme” has performed flawlessly, with not a single mechanical problem. None of the problems my inner engineer envisioned have come to pass. We have learned that our boat uses about 2L/hr of fuel, that we can go 4-7 days without filling our water tanks, and that we almost never need electricity. Truth be told, we can easily go a week without any outside services. Which suits us just fine. Our favorite moorings are the wild ones, in the river or on the canal, away from the towns. Okay, still within biking distance of a boulangerie, but far from the lights so we can see the Milky Way on moonless nights.

Today we began the western loop of our Burgundian adventure – the smaller of the two. We look forward to another 5 weeks of fun and (mis)adventures. Emerson and Linda join us in a week and we are very excited to have Martini Night people joining us (okay, to be honest,  more crew!).  We plan to reach Sens for Bastille Day (when everything, including the locks, shut down), hoping they will have good fireworks!

Yonne Jul 12
Heading north on the Yonne

Au Revoir, Alaskans

Alaska Flag
Flying the colors!

We arrived in Auxerre yesterday and had to sadly say au revoir to our Alaskan family, John and Christin. They did the entire Canal Du Nivernais  with us (180 Km and 110 locks), in rain and sun, locking up and locking down, through tunnels and cases and cases of wine. We got a personal tour of a 16th century chateau, drove through three tunnels, toured innumerable churches (including the basilica in Vezelay), ate lots of snails,  saw a guy in a restaurant probably die and then come back to life because he hadn’t ordered lunch.

We saw them safely to the Gare Auxerre. The fledgelings have left the nest and are on to Paris for further adventures!

Salade Alaska

But we found something at the supermarché to remember them by.

Fun with Jackie and David

We picked up Jackie, David and Emory at Pont d’Oche on Friday afternoon and will be depositing them in Dijon this afternoon where we plan to pick up Richard Wylie. We’ve had a lovely visit – Emory is a bast. And David turned out to be a natural any the helm freeing me up to do Capainy stuff… like nap.

David at the helm, in the rain!

Yesterday was our first rain day. We stopped for lunch in Gissey-sur-Oche after telling the lock keeper we would be at the next lock at 1:30. 1:30 found us in a lovely little restaurant eating dessert and waiting out the rain when the lock keeper, in full rain gear, dripping wet, showed up looking for us! 2:30 we promised. And it was still raining. This was our first section in the rain and it is definitely not as much fun as when the sun is out.


We arrived in Fleurey-su-Oche around 6:00 and decided to eat on the boat rather than get even wetter. Leftover pizza and chocolate (and wine, of course). Hoping for sun today!

Fleurey Anchorage
Bray Sur Somme moored in  Fleurey-Sur-Somme

And we saw our first snake, spotted by eagle-eye Jackie. Not sure what kind.

French snake, looking for a baguette.

Barging with the big boys

Some excitement today. After returning  from our hike up the hill to the castle at Chateauneuf we found our boat, which we had staked out quite nicely (we thought) had been re-staked. We suspected we had come loose and a passing Good Samaritan had re-staked us, using one of our umbrella stands because we clearly had lost one of our stakes. Fortunately we had a spare.

Chateauneuf 2
View of Chateauneuf as we hiked up.
Mooring Chateauneuf
Our nicely (we thought) moored boat.

A few hours later, as we were cleaning the boat in anticipation of Jackie, David and Emory joining us tomorrow – we looked up to see a large hotel barge (it filled the windows – it was huge!) passing by. It lifted our boat at least a foot – maybe two – and we  pulled out both stakes floating us sideways across the canal before we could react. Roberta jumped to the helm and started the engine while I gingerly retrieved our lines (and stakes – we did not lose either) and we re-moored. So now we know how it happens but don’t have a good solution for avoiding it in the future. At least we don’t have to worry about it happening at night – the locks are closed so no boat traffic.

On a completely unrelated topic – one of our Facebook friends, Ken Ellis,  posted a link to a story about a little crushed man behind the remains of St. Thomas Aquinas in the Church of the Jacobins. Today, at the church in Chateauneuf we saw something similar- not sure what it means.

Virgin 1
Statue of the Virgin in the church in Chateauneuf
Virgin 2
Squished man under the Virgin’s foot!

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.