Thursday, April 22, 2010


14th April 2010 to 20th April, 2010

At last spring has broken over us with warmer and longer daylight days so we have been preparing to leave Saint Jean-de-Losne after spending the past 6 months here in the centre of France. Our plan was to get away at the end of March and head south on the great La Saone then onto the mighty Le Rhone which all being well is a great experience we are told due to the size and volume of flow of water in these rivers which can be anything from placid to really rapid. These changes are bought about by rains and any huge snow melt, so it will be necessary to keep right up to the mark with the weather reports and VNF (marine authorities) advice as to the state of flow.

As I said, it was our plan to get away by the end of March but here we are half way through April and we are finally under way after a few extra days required to address some boat problems. During our preparation period like changing the oil, and the filters etc, etc, my mate Jo was testing the tension on the belts which run from the number 2 alternator and found that even without the engine running it was hotter than you could keep your hand on. A call to the local marine electrical expert determined that the alternator to be a really faulty unit despite it only being 15 months old so a new one had to be ordered in.

Then we checked the bow thruster and anchor batteries which showed that they had died too over winter. I apparently should have run the engine and charged them from time to time but I had been told earlier while in the UK that for safety sake I should shut down and isolate this area once the boat was not in use for any period of time. Oh well I sure got that wrong so new batteries had to be ordered as well.
On top of all of this we made an overnight trip to The Netherlands. As we got ready to go, it being about a 7 hour drive, we found that the car’s battery had also died so we had to wait for a new one to be fitted and the battery tray modified to suit this new size. Just as well I am such a quiet, easy-going fellow who just goes along with the flow so it was almost noon before we got underway.

The trip went well as we cruised along the motorways at 130 kph which seemed like riding in a rocket but we were passed all the time by cars and motorcycles which I swear were travelling at speeds of up to 200 kph. In France there are tollways but through Belguim and Luxemberg and Holland all roads are free.

Rhonda's Comments: It's not Avatar but St Patricks Day in St Jean-de-Losne and it was also Jana's Birthday.

Anyhow the delay in being able to move off allowed us to join in a number of social activities right here in SJL with all out boating friends. We had a boaties get together for the first BBQ of the season and this was great fun with many antics happening which will long be remembered or perhaps not remembered by some. It was an occasion when everybody seemed to get along and enjoy a lot of beer and wine and a great selection of foods provided by all the ladies who worked hard to make it such a great day.

Rhonda's Comments: Note the only one eating was Jo who came dressed as an Englishman at a Barbeque - they are really odd these Englishmen - why would you wear a
t-towel with knots tied in the four corners to a barbie - maybe he was ready to do the washing up!!!!!!
Rhonda's Comments: Harry and his mate Jack.
We also had a Boulles event, (French Bowls) for the fittest crew members (photos will verify who those participants were) and this was followed by a few hours at one of the local bars which has riverside setting of tables and chairs on a platform and as it was our first really warm day it was delightful to be able to sit back and enjoy some good weather. Quiz nights, painting classes, card making, cycling groups and walkers all make up the mix of the little community which has been terrific to be a part of.

Some boaters have already moved on to greener fields so there has been a lot of “farewelling” going on for the past few weeks which called for a strong constitution to be able to handle the amount of liquor which seems to appear at any get together or meeting. I will be glad in some ways when we are away from many of this group who have often lead me astray. In truth we will really miss many of these folks who have made us, including Harry, feel so welcome and have involved us in so many activities.

One of our pals at St Jean-de-Losne, Terry has developed this great skill of painting peoples portraits from photographs and they are truly wonderful to view and can hang proudly in any room for all to see. Terry does these so well that since we have showed off his samples to various people he has received commissions from all over so if you think one of you or a family member may be of interest to you, please contact him directly on and discuss getting get a personal portrait you will be so proud of.
We left Saint Jean-de-Losne after filling with fuel which I will give you details of cost. Red Diesel which we are allowed to use onboard for our generator and heating only cost €0.84 a litre while the white which is our engine’s fuel is currently priced at €1.28 per litre. We purchased enough to hopefully cover all our needs for the total journey south. So on the 17th at 8.00am we travelled down river until 2.00pm when we rested overnight at a small village called Gergy. No power or water but did meet up with a couple, Pat and Ian who were heading for SJL after being in the Midi area where we want to go to. They had lots of tips and ideas so we had a lengthy but pleasant chat with them despite some of the horrors they had experienced coming up the Rhone, so do hope we are better off when we go down stream.

Today the 17th we left the dock again at 8.00am and headed down to new territory once we passed Chalon-Sur-Saone which was where the arm of the river we had turned off from 6 months ago on our way to Saint Jean-de-Losne so it was kind of exciting to be in a totally new area so we pushed on until we reached the town of Tournus which is delightful. Lots of shops and services and a real feeling of being alive with a look of activity surrounding the town and they offer a nice port with free electricity and water, available from dockside which is great.

Unfortunately we got hit by a hire boat while at the dock as he was trying to berth at full power so that spoiled the afternoon and he could only speak German and a little French so our words didn’t mean a lot. No serious damage but just annoying.

A huge hotel boat which has 30 cabins on three decks came to berth and it was amazing to see this giant manoeuvre to its berth, so much so I forgot to take any pics of it but I am sure we will meet plenty more of them. The weather is just beautiful with clear blue skies and temps around 21 degrees. We even saw kids swimming in the river as it is school holidays here at present.

Rhonda's Comments: Big, eh!!!!

Harry has enjoyed exploring new grounds so we are pleased with his ability to fit in and he is of little bother which adds to the great feelings of freedom we have as we go along.

On the 20th and we left Tournus somewhat reluctantly at 9.00am as it is a beautiful day again and the river is really inviting and made our way down to Port Arciat where the mooring consisted of a pontoon alongside a camping ground which was still closed up but was getting ready for the summer hordes with lawn mowing and gardening etc all getting done. No water or electricity but that didn’t bother us as we were loaded up as from Tournus so had a quiet night only disturbed by the wash from the odd commercial as they passed along plying their wares.

First thing this morning, (day 5) we viewed the biggest hotel boat we have seen to date. It looked quiet beautiful in the early morning sun with many passengers having their breakfasts out on the top deck while others ate in what appeared to be luxurious dining rooms. The Saone here is running with us at about 2 knotts per hour so we can just cruise along easily at around 5 knots and sure seem to cover the ground or the water whichever you prefer without any pressure.

We went into one huge lock which already had a commercial barge of around 90 meters plus a German launch and still had lots of room for us. Amazing sights to see as the water level drops and you descend into this great pit which I have often referred to in earlier blogs. With a brief exchange with the lock keeper like “Go The All Blacks” as they mostly seem to recognise the flags etc and call out if in earshot. It is amazing what a brand this name is world wide.

The weather has cooled as the day has gone on with the odd light shower which was welcomed by my deck garden. We have already swapped a punett of our lettuce plants for a pot of chives and another of Basil which will make our herb garden very useful I am sure.

While I am writing this blog, Rhonda is at the helm and is doing really well. I have been showing her how to check the oil, the water level plus the water filters so she has learned these on top of “doing” her part on the ropes and so on. If this continues I will be able to rest easy everyday. Yeah right! Time for me to go and get lunch ready. You know what it is like, a man’s work is never done.

Ok, so at around 3.45pm we worked our way through the city of Lyon. France’s second largest city after Paris, approx population of 1.2 million offers a lot to see and do so we will make a point of spending some time here when we make our return voyage next year. We had difficulty finding a really suitable mooring point so just before going out onto the Rhone we turned back and tied up in the city centre which is not ideal but will do fine for us. We have been warned that we should not leave the boat unattended at night but as we are so tired the idea of going out was not on the agenda. Rhonda's Comments: No, we did not go the wrong way and end up in Paris - this is Lyon.

So ended our first step on this new adventure and we will bring you more when we enter the mighty Rhone which we sincerely hope will be as docile as the Saone has been.

So far from Saint Jean-de-Losne we have travelled for 5 days, covered 205 kms, have run the engine for 24 hours and gone through 6 locks and all is well, so fingers crossed for the future.

Best regards to all of our blog readers and don’t forget we love to get your comments.

Thanks and regards, Rhonda, Ken and Harry.