Bluegum goes vertical………………….

Up early on Monday morning and pack all the breakables into boxes in anticipation of the ‘lift out’.  At 8.30 am Charles wanders over to office but soon returns with ‘nothing happening today’.  Apparently they are too busy so maybe the work will be carried out tomorrow or perhaps Wednesday.  Well we are used to hanging around so go shopping and take another wander around the town which we are getting to know quite well over the last couple of weeks. St Jean de Losne is located where the Saone and the Bourgogne and Rhone-Rhine channels meet and rightly deserves the title of regional capital of Inland Navigation. In 1936 several hundred men stood fast in the ancient fortress forcing the Austrian General Gallas to withdraw his 60,000 soldiers.

Simon and Andrea Piper's boat 'Monchique'
Simon and Andrea Piper’s boat ‘Monchique’

Charles notices that Monchique, Simon Piper’s barge is also in the port along with a new Piper 49 foot boat that had been on display at the Paris show recently.  We go and say hello and I take the opportunity to look around both boats – its nice to have a nosey and compare the pros and cons of the different designs.  Later in the afternoon Simon along with his mate Paul moor the display boat alongside Bluegum – apparently they weren’t going to walk all the way around!!! We have a couple of drinks and then jump onto their boat and take her out for a cruise as Simon wants to check her out before prospective buyers visit later in the week.

This crane can't lift 30 tons ....
This crane can’t lift 30 tons ….
... so they leave the stern in the water and just lift the bow out!
… so they leave the stern in the water and just lift the bow out!

We get a knock on the door on Tuesday morning by David Blanquart asking us to take the boat over to the crane for 9 am and its not long before two slings are fitted and the bow slowly raises – as you can imagine physics says if one end comes up the other must go down and it is rather unnerving seeing how far the stern dips under the water.  Its even more frightening when David says can you go aboard and check the engine room!! and there we were having all the confidence in the professionals!! All is well and it was a good job that I had packed up all the breakables as cupboards and drawers had opened during the lift.  A few hours later the bow thruster is fixed and Bluegum is lowered back into the water.

Checking the bowthruster
Checking the bowthruster
Sally checking the engine room for signs of water!!
Sally: “Have I moored up OK?”

The saying ‘I used to be indecisive but now I’m not so sure’ is definitely true of Charles at the moment.  One minute we will travel up the Bourgogne canal to Dijon, the next we will visit Tournus but today we are going down to Chalon sur Saone and then turn right onto the Canal du Centre – the last being the final decision.  So before leaving Losne we fill up with fuel and still cannot get used to paying out 1000 euros – I know we are Yorkshire and all that but its still alot of cash.  Charles gets into conversation with the fuel attendant who learns we are going down to The Midi for winter and 2016.  As they are walking up to the office the young man turns to Charles and says in a conspiratorial tone ‘Between you and me, there are some bad boys in Narbonne who take away the ladies, you keep a close eye on your lady’ . I don’t think it was very nice of Charles asking exactly where he could find these bad boys!!!!

We stop off on our way down in Seurre for a couple of days and enjoy some running and cycling and then visit Verdum sur le Doubs.  Unfortuntely there is no mooring space for us as we are too big to moor end onto the pontoon so decide to cruise up the Doubs which is navigable for around 15 kilometers.  Its very pretty with a number of fishermen but no boats.  We make a couple of unsuccessful attempts at mooring on the river bank, loosing one of my plant troughs in the process when the boat looses an argument with some thick tree branches.  Words are exchanged between Charles and I as you can imagine – we reckon most rows probably occur during the mooring up period – well men should listen to us women, we know best……………………. Anyway on our fourth attempt we are successful and sling our ropes around a couple of sturdy looking trees which I check out careful for snakes – I don’t want any slithering into the boat when we are asleep – not sure this inspection would make any difference but it makes me feel a little more confident.

'Wild' mooring on the River Doubs
‘Wild’ mooring on the River Doubs

Unfortunately we don’t get to visit Verdum but perhaps that may be a good thing as reading up on the town  we learn it had an agitated past being the scene of many bloody battles in the middle ages as well as suffering from epidemics and inundations – the later referring to flooding which was dealt with by constructing a moat to isolate the Island and to build a town surrounded by walls.  The town enjoys the rivers Saone, Doubs and Dheune which is apparently a paradise for fishermen.  Here you can sample a speciality called ‘pochouse’ – a fresh water fish stew of pike, perche, eels and tenches, white wine and served with fried breadcrumbs – in my opinion the wine sounds the only decent bit.

Early morning Verdun-sur-Doubs
Early morning Verdun-sur-les-Doubs

Thursday (9th) the alarm wakes us up at 5.15 (yes we do have an alarm although it is very rarely used) – last night I had the bright idea of setting off early to watch the sun rise whilst listening to the dawn chorus but we are now questioning that idea.  We are awake and its a gorgeous morning so up we get and cast off before 5.45.  We are surprised that we are not the only ones on the water – there are a number fishermen out in their boats which leads us to believe they must have very unhappy marriages.

River Doubs - quiet and peaceful
River Doubs – quiet and peaceful


  1. What an adventure, so what was up with the bow thruster finally , or was that in a previous instalment that I’ve missed?


    • Hi Jonathan. Not sure! It wasn’t the prop as it was all intact. They replaced the complete ‘leg’ below the water line and the likelyhood is that it was the gear box which had stripped. It has happened to several other Piper boats from a similar period so we reckon it is an inherent fault.

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