A French hunt and a broken boat

Well it has been an interesting week. We left Nemours on Thursday 16 September fully intending to meet up with Harry and Marion and Bob and Lynn somewhere near Digion. I had planned the route to take about 18 days, building in some breaks on the way.

We made good progress on Thursday, getting to Montbouy, excellent mooring by the way and Friday we got to Ouzouer pk 8, 5miles short of Briare. We had covered 78 kilometers in 2 days.

At Ouzouer we met up with Tony and Barbara ,on Gerlinde, we got on well with them and decided to spend some time at Ouzouer as we were now 2 days in front of our planned route. What a fortunate decision that was as we were treated to an extraordinary series of events surrounding the celebrations of St Hubert in the local church. St Hubert is the patron saint of hunting , La Chasse, and the local church was decorated in the most bizarre way. The alter had a large head of a stuffed stag as its centre piece and all around the alter were over stuffed animals including a wild boar, a fox, a stoat, and a Roe deer. Also the interior of the church was adorned in masses of green shrubbery hacked from the local forest, in fact the Church resembled more of a clearing in a forest than a holy house.

The adverts around the town of Ouzouer showed pictures of horses and hounds and advertising the Mass of St Hubert on Sunday at 10.30. We were intrigued and agreed with Tony and Barbara to venture up to the church by 10.30 the following morning. What a sight greeted us outside the church a bunch of huntsman in full regalia with large hunting horns slung over their shoulders. Just before the service was about to start they formed up in a double column and marched into church blowing their horns quite tunefully, extraordinary sight.

That was not the end of the spectacular sights. We left the church as the service started and headed back to the boat for a cup of coffee. We exchanged some DVD’s with Tony and Barbara and they then left the mooring and headed south on Gerlinde. We fully intended to meet up with them again before Dezice. However, about 30 minutes after they left the full hunt turned up outside the boat with a dozen riders in full regalia, a bunch of deer hounds and the men on foot with the hunting horns, they then put on a display to the assembled masses , see picture above. Now we all have our thoughts and opinions about hunting, but the point of this tale was not about the morality of hunting but rather the spectacle that greeted us last Sunday morning in Ouzouer.

We left Ouzoure after lunch and caught the first lock just after 1pm, as we approached the second lock disaster struck, the Morse cable snapped, trapping the engine in reverse and with no steerage we slammed the stern into the bank severely damaging the rudder. I had no option but to turn off the engine and moor up where we were just before the lock no 5 at Venon, in the middle of nowhere. Now this is the time I explain that I have started to believe in angels. Throughout this trip we have had the odd clinch and mini disaster along with the glorious times we have enjoyed. I for my part saw the solution to these cliches as good planning or good fortune but Teresa was convinced that when you need one an angel will turn up in all sorts of forms and disguises, I am starting to join her in this belief. Looking back when we have been in trouble or stranded somebody appears and helps us out. This time was no exception and we remembered a conversation with Tony and Barbara about a good mechanic called Jeremie situated at Chatillon some 10 miles away. I phoned Tony and he gave me Jeremie’s number, I phoned him and explained the problem, and he said he would be with us the following morning.

Sure enough and to his word Jeremie appeared at 10am the following morning, he quickly diagnosed the Morse cable fault and by luck, or angel dust, had a spare cable that fitted perfectly. Once fitted we were able to regain control of the engine gearing, although the rudder was still severely bent we were able, with difficulty to bring the boat to Jeremie and the boatyard at Chatillon. Yesterday Jeramie and I managed to remove the damaged rudder by unbolting it via the weed hatch and hauling it out of the water. When we got it ashore it was very badly bent, but here we go again, Jeremie has a friend who happens to work at a foundry in town and he contacted him and arranged to deliver the rudder to the foundry this morning. They will repair and straighten the damaged rudder and we should be able to reassemble the steering column and rudder tomorrow morning, and be on our way.

Now I am no great fan of Robbie Williams and his music but today I have been singing his most famous track!

This post was written by Terry Barrett

Photographs by Tes

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