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The name describes my demeanour and voice! I love narrowboating and that is why this blog is mainly about the boat and our interaction with it. I have been keeping a log for Sonflower ever since we bought her and moved onto her as our main residence. Some incidents in our boating life have been hilarious, some scary and some down right dangerous. I cannot tell what will come in the future but you can now share them! The crew are an 'ordinary' couple. The Best Mate and I.

Wednesday, 25 March 2009

Learning the ropes (in France) Pt 5- the finale

It was not all bad. We had a wonderful time. In fact we would love to go again.

The picture is of our hired narrowboat, Saint Nazaire with the crew. The fact was that we were under crewed. In the large locks one really has to tie on to something to stop the boat being tossed around and this means one needs a crew member fore and aft and another on the lock side. Some of the locks have such a large rise and fall that one cannot put crew ashore and there are long poles set into the side of the lock to pass a line around to control the position.

There is one lock that is on a river section of the canal with a lock cut that narrows considerably. It is traffic light controlled but to tell the control system of your presence one has to turn a switch that is dangling over the middle of the canal from an overhead line. When you don't know that it is there, discover it late and pass it it is a job to back up and position the boat so that one can reach the dangling switch which is swinging in the wind that is making it very difficult to back up the boat!

Mooring is fun. One can moor just about anywhere but bollards and rings are very rare. The canal is lined with Plane trees and most of the time one ties to one of these sturdy items of canal furniture or to one of the thousands of roots that dip into the water and form a bank of sorts.

The french hire boats do not seem to know the beauty of taking things slowly and wash making is very common. The french commercial barges also do not slow and keep to the centre of the canal making it quite daunting as they approach. We felt that our little narrowboat would be swept away by these towering beasts. They are big.

One thing we should say. We learnt a lot on our adventure on the Canal du Midi and the Canal de Robine. We went to Narbonne and Carcasonne as well as Beziers and stopped at many villages in between. We loved the countryside and the people. We went to Minerve and the vineyards and sampled Muscat so smooth that it slid down the throat. We visited a chateau right beside the canal and bought wine from the vat. We had steaks and mussels and cassoulet. We loved the Mediterranean sea and the bright blue skies.

And we got there before the Narrow Dog.

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