• Mon 28 April Christchurch to Le Havre.
  • Tue 29 April arrived in Le Havre
  • Tue 6 May Mast Down. To Risle via Tancarville Canal.
  • Wed 7 May Set off for Paris
  • Sun 12 May Arrive Paris Arsenal
  • Thu 16 May Paris to St Mammés
  • Mon 20 May Leave St Mammés on the River Yonne heading for Auxerre
  • Mon 27 May Leave Auxerre on the Canal du Nivernais heading for Dezise
  • Mon 16 June Leave Dezise on the Canal latéral à la Loire heading for Digoin
  • Wed 18 June Leave Digoin on the Canal du Centre headining for Chalon-sur Saône
  • Sun 22 June Leave Chalon-sur Saône heading South on the River Saône
  • Tue 23June Leave Givors on the Rhone heading for Port Napoleon and the Med
  • Wed 2 July Port Napolean, scrub off, mount mast, set up for sea etc.
  • Thursday 10 July Sail for Toulon

Saturday, May 17, 2008

Melun to St Mammes

Seine gets really beautiful. The locks were all easy - no more than 2M up and all with smooth vertical concrete sides with intermediate bollards set into the walls.
No incidents - and STILL NO FUEL until we finally rounded the bend at St Mammes and there it was! Camping Gaz too. We spent €330 on diesel, an extra 22L fuel can, t bottles of Gaz and some gloves.
I'll post pictures later.

Friday, May 16, 2008

Paris to Melun - Fuel Blues

I tipped 20L of the spare diesel into the tank this morning as we were down to a quarter. There is a tiny garage that sells it on the street just outside the Arsenal so I filled the cans up on foot.
We paid €120.00 for 5 nights mooring as soon as the Capitenerie opened at 0900. Very good value I think – includes water, electricity, showers, rubbish, etc. – And where else could you stay in the centre of Paris for that! We asked about fuel and were assured that a barge called “Dintel 2” moored by the mouth of the Marne would have some. We duly found a barge with a “Total” flag and a fuel pump but no name and it didn’t answer on VHF17. I called the number the Capitaine had given me (06-72-16-89-41) and was assured that it was the right barge.
We moored alongside and were rather surprised that nobody emerged to help us. L went looking for someone and there was plainly nobody aboard. I phoned again “Je suis ice. Ou etes vous?” and a cheery void said he’d be there by 11.30 – it was 10.00 at the time. I told him it was too long and we would go elsewhere – foolishly having confidence that at least some of the many fuel stations in the Navicarte would work for us.
Oh how foolish can you get!
We passed marked station after station and each one was gone, shut or only sold petrol. Initially we ignored stations that had to be walked to carrying Jerry cans. At Villeneuve St-Georges (PK155), a station is clearly marked but it’s just not there. Port Premier (PK148) is marked but it was shut and looked very private. A land station is marked at Pont de Juvisy that is very close to the quay. When we got there however, we couldn’t see the garage and the quay had large signs saying no mooring – so we went on. Port Saintry (PK130) and Chantier Kliein (PK129) both had pumps as the Navicarte says – but both were very shut and only had petrol anyway.
Finally at 1800 we reached Melun where two petrol stations are marked close to the river at PK111. We moored and I went to find them. The one closest to the bridge is just not there. The other is now a new car sales garage and doesn’t have fuel (and anyway was shut). I yomped around the town for an hour looking and found nothing at all!
So after a whole day motoring, covering 57Km, we found not a single drop of diesel. Luckily we have a 350KM + range and are not yet on our knees. The lack of fuel really spoilt the day though. We went through interesting industrial landscapes, some nice country and lots of interesting house barges and locks. The obsession with fuel however drove most of these from our consciousness.
Essentially we left Christchurch with a full tank of fuel and having added 20 Litres at the only diesel station we have seen, we now are ¼ full. Anyone with less reserve than we have would be in considerable difficulties.
We are told that there is definitely a diesel barge at St Mammes. This is 30KM away which we can make easily. However, I won’t be holding my breath!

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Mooring in the Risle on way up the Seine to Rouen

The Risle is a small river that opens onto the south bank of the Seine about halfway between Honfleur and Tancarville. There is no development of any kind – it is as nature intended.
It made us an excellent starting point for the long run up to Rouen. If you would like to use it too – here are a few pointers from what we learned.
Just after you enter, a small stream enters from the right. Just after this, a small stony reef appears near low water and runs half way across from the left bank to about the mid of the river. This constrains the channel to the right half (looking up stream). It doesn’t look dangerous but it does take about 0.5M off the depth of the main channel.
We anchored with 25M of chain and a spade anchor. We initially anchored before the steam as the channel began to shallow quickly. Later as the tide dropped we realised that the main channel was towards the right bank and we could see the disturbed water upstream which later became the reef. We re-anchored about 50M above the upstream bank of the little stream and all was well. At low water (springs) we had about 1.9M water.
The bottom was mud – excellent holding and we came across no obstructions.
The current ran out strongly and at 1.5Kt and continued to do so as the rate of drop slowed and stagnated. Suddenly, as if someone had turned on a tap, it reversed still at 1.5Kt – with no discernable slack water. From then on it rose very rapidly. This occurred 3 hour after low water at Honfleur.
Our spade anchor absorbed both changes of direction without a whimper. If your anchor is liable to capsize, you will need to be vigilant.
We left a couple of hours before low water and had a hard run up the Seine to Tancarville – hugging the bank to get a current less than 3 knots against us. The up-going tide caught us up Tancarville and we reached Rouen in only a further 8 hours at 5.8Knots water speed.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

The Journey To Paris

With all the messing around with the mast, we had missed the 0700 tide. If you miss that, you don't get to Rouen. It's as simple as that and there's nowhere safe to moor!
I thought we might be able to catch up by going through the Canal de Tancarville. It has no significant current and is several kilometres shorter. Oh what a mistake! The 5 locks and opening bridges between the port and the canal proper take forever. We waited at one for over an hour.
Every time we got fed up and tied up though, everything burst into life – perhaps that’s the secret. We didn’t get out of the canal until nearly 1600 - not that it made much difference. We had missed the tide anyway and we weren’t going anywhere until the next day. Unfortunately, mooring in the canal is prohibited and there is nowhere comfortable and secure on the Siene until Rouen. So now we were faced with a trip all the way back to Honfleur with our tails between our legs.
And that’s where we struck lucky. Poring over our trusty Navicarte we spotted a tiny paragraph saying that anchoring is ‘possible’ in the mouth of the River Risle
which is just a few kilometres down-stream from the canal. The 4 knot current swept us down in no time and we pulled into a lovely wild deserted river mouth. The holding was great and our Spade anchor dug in hard. We had a quiet evening, a good night’s sleep and an early start next morning. I would recommend it to anyone except those with deep fixed keels as it saved a good two hours off the long slog up to Rouen.
And with that hindsight again – The Canal du Tancarville was really interesting, the Risle was lovely and the journey up worked so well that we were in Rouen by 1400 even though we had done no more than six Knots through the water all the way.
We had a friend with us who needed to get back after two weeks so with all the delays we were up against the clock getting to Paris. We decided to press on hard and do the journey in only 4 days. It was mostly beautiful and fascinating with only occasional doses of scary when huge ships rushed past
or great barges came past us into locks with only a small space left for us at the back.
All went well and on Saturday afternoon, just on the edge of Paris, we were relaxing in the knowledge that we would reach the Paris Arsenal Marina at about 1630 well before the 1900 lock closing time. That’s when we suddenly lost engine cooling. Two and a half hours later, I emerged, covered in sweat and dirt with the problem gone away if not exactly fixed.

We were very pressed for time and it soon became clear that we were going to arrive at about 1930 which was far too late. No problem! Our trusty Navicarte had another solution – the public marina on the edge of the Seine by the pont de la Concorde. Occasional choppiness was the only drawback if boats should pass.
When we got there it was very different! The only boats there were large steel barges, converted for pleasure use or as house boats. There was no sign of any officials, nobody answered the VHF and the phone number in the Navicarte didn’t work. The first barge we found with someone in sight wouldn’t let us tie alongside for reasons that my schoolboy French was unable to decode. Then we spotted a British registered motor boat with a space next to it. The woman on board was very apologetic but no, we couldn’t have the space. It was a private mooring and the bloke who owned it was coming back. Now all this time we were being buffeted by huge wakes of racing tourist and commercial traffic with the odd speedboat thrown in and I was beginning to panic. The last thing I wanted was a fruitless journey through the eye of the tourist boat storm around Notre Dame.
A wonderful gentleman on the barge behind then came to the rescue and suggested that we tie next to him. He saved the day and I shall be forever grateful. We were in a wonderful (although probably illegal) location right opposite the National Assembly with a good view of the Eiffel Tower and Notre Dame in the distance. We were thrown around until midnight when, as if a tap had been turned off, all the traffic disappeared and we had a tranquil night’s sleep. In the morning, I wandered around looking for the Marina Captain until I came upon another chap on a barge who explained that 5 years ago the public moorings had all been replaced by long term ones. The times of opening of the Arsenal had been extended to 2300 and we could easily have got in.

When I got back to the boat, I looked at the date on the Navicarte we had borrowed from a friend and it was 1999! Now with hindsight, I should have checked before we started, realised it was likely to be out of date, and got a new one.
So if only hindsight was foresight, we would have had a much smoother gentler and altogether better voyage. Or would we I wonder? We experienced things that were unforgettable, we learned a lot and we came to no harm. Isn’t that what sailing’s all about?