Has Brian jinxed us?

Leaving behind these huge hotel boats

So off we set and this time successfully get onto the Canal du Centre through an amazing mechanically challenging looking huge lock.  It really is rather daunting but the smiling face of the lock keeper looking down on us is a little reassuring.

10 metre deep lock!
10 metre deep lock!

It really is nice to be back on canals to be able to see the sides of the banks and to moor where we like.  That lasted about five minutes until we realised that handling Bluegum on a much narrower and shallower stretch of water is very different from handling her on a river where in fact we have been spoiled and given a rather false sense of our competence.  Charles soon gets to grip though and before long is feeling more confident whilst I feel very uncertain and quickly pass controls back to Charles when we see an oncoming boat or lock.

Sally seems to be exhausted!
Sally seems to be exhausted!

We make good progress through 12 locks to moor at Chagny. Locks are very different over here – these are automatic and the local lock-keeper sets them so that they are ready for you to go straight in. Once in you have to rope fore and aft (not so easy at the bottom of a 5 metre deep lock) and pull the blue cord to close the gates and fill – or empty – the lock. The gates then open and off you go.

Green and Red - preparing the lock
Green and Red – preparing the lock

All good in theory but positioning a 26 ton barge, climbing up to reach the cord and then securing the boat before the huge rush of water make the practice quite scary!

We set off in very hot sunny weather and all is going well until an alarm goes off and a red light appears on the dash – engine overheating!!! A check on the header tank – no sign of any coolant so we fill with water and carry on – the gauge stays level until we are ticking over and the alarm sounds again. We limp along and moor at St-Leger-sur-Dheune to consider our dilemma. A call to Piper’s in England is rather inconclusive – perhaps there is an airlock in the system. We decide to stay where we are and get into conversation with an English couple, David and Joy, on the barge moored next to us. They invite us on board and we enjoy a couple of beers as the conversation turns to careers – we find we all have ‘police’ connections. David asks if we have heard of Maybo! We soon realise that we have met before when David gave a talk on handling the media to a Maybo training day!! An amazing coincidence and we celebrate with several bottles of wine and a photo for Bill Fox.

David and Joy
David and Joy

We have a lovely evening sharing stories and learning about their 6 years in France – which helps us to forget our overheating engine for a while. Whilst Brian appears to have jinxed us we have to say that we will be happy if we achieve what he has – piloting his boat single handed from Carcassonne in the South of France up the Rhone in your 80’s is no mean feat!


  1. Hi Sally and Charles

    You certainly appear to be finding some new challenges on the French rivers and canals – the locks look enormous!

    We noticed that db Bluegum was pictured in another blog this week. You were snapped by a couple of Brits who lived in Australia. Until recently they owned nb Caxton (aka nb The Manley Ferry) but have now sold up and are ‘cruising’ the continent in their motorhome.


    Keep up the bogging!

    Best wishes

    Mike and Marian
    nb Duxllandyn

    • Hi Guys
      Good to hear from you! We are having a great time and slowly getting used to the challenges of bigger boat and a variety of locks – you never quite know how the next one will be operated! Thanks for the link – amazing coincidence! Ebony is still waiting for a new owner at Whilton although someone is showing quite a lot of interest at the moment – fingers crossed.
      Hope you are both well.
      Best wishes
      Charles and Sally

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