The end of the gentle Canal du Centre and onto the Mighty Saone

One of the great things about this trip is that very few days are repeat experiences.  Some days present a more dramatic change than others and last Saturday was as dramatic a change of scenery as you can get.

We intended to leave Fragnes and the Canal du Centre on Friday and turn north on the Soane river towards St Jean de losne, however, as we were preparing to leave we heard the doulcet tones of Lori off ‘Do Littles’ ‘Hey Renaissance nice to see you’…..we helped them moor up and they encouraged us to hang around for a final night to spend  more time with them and Peter and Mandy off ‘Halcyon Grace’.  Both were setting off for the Med soon and as we were turning in the opposite direction when we left it is very unlikely we shall see either of them again this year.  In any event a boozey evening was spent with our new friends.

We finally set off early Saturday morning, 31/7, nursing slighty sore heads and headed for the Soane.  To get to the Soane you have to pass through a very deep lock, 10.5 meters.  See photo album for pictures. and then onto a very large river.  After being on canals for weeks the change is indeed dramatic.  The first thing that strikes you is the very size of the river, in places it is getting on for a kilometer wide;  the next thing is the flow, not too great on the Saone but you still notice the need to increase revs to get through at a reasonable cruising speed;  then there are the large commercial boats, not seen any of them since the Seine river,  one commercial that passed us was in fact two barges lashed together, and one part was 79 meters long and the main part was 89 meters long that is 170 meters of one boat or nearly 600feet long!! made us feel like a toy boat when it overtook us;  another change is the lack of locks. On some canal days we did up to 30 locks in the day, on the Soane river you may do one or two all day; the last big change is the lack of mooring places, on the canals you can moor virtually anywhere you may not always have all the facilities available but you can always secure yourself  to a bank or one of numerous quays and pontoons.  We travelled 40 kilometers on the Soane before stopping on the first decent mooring at Seurre.  A good mooring with new pontoons, good electric and water points.  The best bit was meeting up with Mel and Ian on ‘Jigsaw’.

That evening we wandered around the town fairground with Mel and Ian and had the enjoyable view of some poor chap on a ride called ‘Energy’ which consisted of two pendulums swinging in opposite directions next to each other.  The two arms with seated passenger at each end swing in ever increasing arcs until they finally go over the top and complete the circle.  Not content with that they repeat the full circle several times before then swinging on the securing axis at the bottom 360o and at the same time continuing large swings with the pendulum.  The poor chap on one of the pendulums became quite ill during the ride, too many hotdogs and beer perhaps, and emptied the contents of his stomach from the top of the ride directly into a pair of shoes left on the ground by one of the female passengers.  We tried not to laugh but the restraint was too much when the young female passenger emerged from the ride to very tentativly lift her shoes and hold them at arms length and her nose with the other hand.  I guess this was not event of this type on this particular ride as one of the ride assistants appeared almost imediatly with a hosepipe and broom!

This post was written by Terry Barrett

Photographs by Tes

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