Monday, July 23, 2007


After Paris we went back to St. Mammes hoping to do some painting on the exterior of the boat but the weather did not cooperate. The rain continued, and though not constant, the sunny times were not long enough to get a project started. Bill continued to do wiring and electrical work, which was a great thing.

On July 4, Michael and Joseph Grubic, the sons of Bob and Alicia, our California friends arrived in Paris from Barcelona. They flew into CDG, so we drove to Paris to pick them up. They had to take a train from CDG to Orly --much closer to us -- so it took a while for them to get there. It was great to see them and to hear all about their traveling adventures together. Michael, the younger brother had just finished his semester abroad in Barcelona, and Joseph, who is starting medical school in the fall decided to join his brother for a nice vacation in Europe.

We got back to the boat after midnight, showed the boys how to set up their beds in the wheel house and went to sleep. It had been a long day for all of us. The next day we would be navigating, so we needed our night sleep. After a delicious breakfast with croissants and baguettes from one of the two good bakeries in town, we drove the boys to Moret sur Loing so they could see it. Oddly enough it did not rain at all that day and for the remainder of their stay, so we could say that the boys brought the good weather with them.
At 11:30 AM we cast off the lines and departed under very windy conditions. We were traveling upstream on the Seine with high winds and lots of commercial traffic. I made lunch for everyone while we were underway, so we did not need to stop. Just before the little town of Cannes, we had to wait for the lock to be repaired. There were at least 4 large peniches waiting to go in. These locks can fit lots of boats, since they are 700 feet long! After this lock we turned right onto the River Yonne where the locks were not as big, but the walls were sloped. The first few did not have pontoons for us to tie to, and it was nearly impossible to get to a bollard. If the lock keeper felt like helping with the ropes, you were lucky. In one occasion one of them refused to take my cord. Once the water starts coming into that lock the forces with which you are dealing are incredible. Bill had to keep the motor running to control the boat. Quite a challenge! The locks on the Yvonne are supposed to be open until 7:00 PM, but that day, we got to Pont Renard before 6:00 PM and it was closed. We tied up along the wall on the weir side with a Dutch cruiser called Blaue Banjer. The had been in St. Mammes with us.

Bill and I wanted to teach the boys the game of Boules, so we went ashore and had a couple of games before dinner. We had a great time eating on the boat with Joseph and Michael because they like everything and there is nothing they do not eat. The next day after breakfast we cast off at 9:45 AM heading for Sens, a large town right on the River. This stretch of the Yonne was beautiful. The river is wide and wild, the vegetation very thick and the birds forever present. At 1:30 We stopped at the lovely town of Pont sur Yonne, famous for its IX C bridge, of which only 3 arches remain. It was a very balmy, sunny day, we tied up onto a pontoon before the bridge, and the guys went to explore and look for a bakery while I made lunch. They came back with some scrumptious desserts as well as some bread. The rest of the trip to Sens was beautiful as well. From the river the high cathedral can be seen in the distance. The port was a very pleasant surprise for us. It was so nice and safe in such a central setting. We moored opposite of St. Maurice, a half timber XIIC church and just before the bridge. We had just tied up the boat when we saw our Irish friends in Aquarelle coming from the other direction. We had met them in Briare, where they spent most of the winter. They have always been a great source of information, since they write and contribute to the DBA's Blue Flag magazine. We planned to get together for coffee in the morning.

Entering one of the locks we saw a beautiful boat called FENICKS, owned and built by a British couple. I had complemented them on their boat, and when we got to the port they invited us for drinks in the evening. They were traveling with another couple and having a grand time. Another couple who had a sailboat called Capella had also been invited, so we were quite a crowd. We had a great time, and the boys got to experience a little bit of the social aspect of barging. After drinks we had a fantastic raclette dinner on the boat, which the boys very much enjoyed. The had brought us some wonderful Catalonian wine, a great complement to the meal.

The next morning after breakfast we walked to the train station and bought the tickets from Villeneuve s/ Yonne to Paris. Michael and Joseph would be leaving from there the next day. We then went to visit Michael and Rosaleen on Aquarelle and had delicious Irish tea and cookies. Michael built that boat himself literally in his backyard. The boat is a sea going as well as a canal boat, very beautiful and comfortable. We exchanged information on the state of things towards The North where they were heading, and they gave us all the information on The Nivernais Canal where we were going. We said good bye, I prepared lunch for us and we soon took off in the direction of Villeneuve sur Yonne.

We were very lucky that day, since of 4 locks we had to do, three we were asked to tie up to a large peniche, thus making the process much easier in these sloping locks. There were three of them, a pusher with a dumb boat owned by a young couple, and another one owned by the parents of one of them. They transport grain from the Seine to the Yonne. They were absolutely wonderful, and even gave us a detailed copy of one of their charts for us to have. We arrived at the last lock before Villeneuve as it had just closed, so we tied up to them for the night. They hung a ladder on the side of their boat so we could get ashore to explore the town. We did just that, but not before having a nice game of boules on the quay. The town is a gorgeous mediaeval town with two beautiful gates and vestiges of an old castle. We walked the town, the boys called their parents and back to Biesbosch for another nice meal. The next day, soon before 8:00 AM we untied our boat, let the big peniches go into the lock and said good bye to these wonderful people who made things so much easier for us. The boys continued to sleep and after a brunch of omelets, fruit salad and good bread, I made some sandwiches for the boys to take with them on the train. Soon after, Bill walked with Joseph and Michael to the station while I stayed on the boat doing laundry and such. It was very sad to say good bye to these wonderful young men whose company we so much enjoyed. Hopefully we will see them in the winter when we go to California.

Before leaving St. Mammes

The Grubic boys w/ Bill in St. Mammes

Heavy traffic on the Seine

Joseph at the helm

The Grubic boys enjoying the sun

A XII C. Bridge

Lunch on Biesbosch

Along the River Yonne

Traveling along with Fenicks and Capella

Our mooring in Sens

St. Maurice Xii C. Church in Sens

Villeneuve sur Yonne

Tied up to "The big boys" at Villeneuve

The cook gets some help

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