Nederlandse versieFirst navigation-day: from Venarey to Marigny


I am awake early the next morning. We did not sleep so well because we have to get used to sleeping on a boat. We navigate in time to the first lock. According to the shabby sign which is hanging at the lock-wall, one can be locked at nine o'clock.

The doors of the lock are opened and we moor inside the lock. At nine o'clock I see no one. I get  a little worried about this. Maybe we had to call someone, I don't know.

At five past nine someone is coming on a moped. It is the lockkeeper. He ask where we want to go to. When I say Pouilly, he says that 's too far. Thirty locks is the maximum in one day. I see on the map that we can navigate than to about the village of Marigny.

After we have gone through the first three locks the lockkeeper asks us to wait a while. There is an other boat coming. He also tells us a boat is arriving from the other side. We are mooring in a curve of the canal before the next lock. 

On our resting place I see a small bridge over a small river at about hundred meters. As I come by, it appears to be a forgotten beautiful moss-grown bridge over the river 'La Brenne'. I take some pictures.

As the second boat arrives with the lockkeeper, we navigate into the next lock. Inside the lock we see a boat coming from the opposite direction. It is an old Dutch former barge: the Klazina from Rotterdam.

Alongside the canal poplar trees are growing, some times at both sides of the canal, sometimes at just one side. Peculiar balls are hanging in the branches. When I am home I am told that we have seen mistletoe. We will be seeing the poplars and mistletoe during our entire holiday. The canal is meandering along the hillsides upstairs. High above us in the hills we see a quarry. During the day we are climbing to it. The locks are close to each other, usually no more than some hundreds of meters from each other.

It is noon after locking through 10 locks up. We moor in a basin near Pouillenay. A nomad-caravan stands at the edge where cane baskets are exposed. The lockkeeper appears to have arrived at his own house just in time for the lunch.

It 's half past two when we travel on. It is going quickly now. We pass five locks in one hour. Pepijn is helping the lockkeeper as well as he can and cycles from lock to lock. We navigate into the lock and Marga or Charlotte throw the rope up to Pepijn, who lays it around a bollard and gives it back to them. Then he helps me on the quarter-deck doing the same. Sometimes he also helps the French who are traveling in the same direction as . The French and us help the lockkeeper with the actual locking. Sometimes the gates are already closed after us before the lockkeeper has arrived on his moped. Pepijn is also helping with the opening of the sluice gates. For that matter, Pepijn, Charlotte and Marga are changing the duties regularly.  

Maarten has his own occupations. Sometime he also helps us but mostly he goes his own way. This morning he was staying in bed for a long time playing with his gameboy. Pepijn navigates today large sections. Just as last year he wants to get a navigation certificate from me. He also navigates into the locks. Navigating out of the locks appears to be awkward because the boat is blown against the lock-walls sometimes by the wind.

At about half past five we arrive in Marigny-le-Cahouët. We moor next to a hotel barge (péniche-hôtel). This is a former barge converted into a navigating hotel. Especially Americans make us of these boats on the Canal de Bourgogne. Because the bridges over the Canal de Bourgogne are very low, the boats usually don't have a flight deck and appeare therefore somewhat amputated.

Later an Englishman moors besides us. He is navigating already 19 months through France with his boat. He tells us his boat was frozen in for four months in the Canal de la Marne à la Saône at nine kilometers of a shop. He considers navigating on the French canals 'a way of life'.

We eat in Marigny the pieces of the pizza's left from yesterday. In our boat is a little oven. The refrigerator in our boat has mirroring walls. Because of that we seem to have enormous supplies but they dwindle down quickly.  The pieces of pizza are tasting wonderful after the 29 locks we have passed the day. On the map though, we have made little progress. We have navigated less then eleven kilometers today.

In Marigny we wander through the village and want to visit the castle nearby the village. Marga is send away later: C'est propriété privée, madame!

I cycle further along the chain of locks of Marigny upward. We are coming out of the hills tomorrow and are arriving then on a kind of uplands between vivid yellow cool-seed fields. It is a beautiful view.