First day: from Montbéliard to l'Isle-sur-le-Doubs
It's Sunday evening now. The sun is disappearing behind the hills as I take my pen on the back sitting at the back side of our boat, to write something about our fist navigation day. The whether is agreeable. I hear the murmur of the water flowing over the gates of the nearby lock. We are moored above the lock in l’Isle-sur-le-Doubs. It has a little port in which, apart from us, another four boats are moored. They are former barges which are converted to navigating house-boats. The children are playing football next-door on a field belonging tot a primary school (Primaire école). I can hear them laughing from tom to time.
As we woke up after our first night on the boat, it is drizzling. I get some bread at the bakery first and then we are having breakfast. Meanwhile the lockkeeper passes by to ask at what time we want to pass the first lock. After breakfast Marga and I go to the supermarket at the other side of the canal. We get a enough stock for three days. The boat has a large refrigerator with a fine deep fridge section.
We take off at ten o'clock. We pass the first rests of the industrial past of the canal: a construction to load and unload barges. It says ‘Grands Moulins de Strasbourg’ on the side. We pass our first lock and are arriving soon at a draw-bridge. The traffic is stopped to let through some people on their holidays. A strange sensation!
We are navigating out of town now rapidly. We see some allotments between the banks of the river and the canal. De strip with allotments becomes smaller and smaller. At last we are navigating right next to the river. In the meantime the whether has improved. The sun is shining trough the cloudy sky sometimes.
After five kilometers we cross the river Doubs which joins the Allan there. We will follow the Doubs our entire journey. I read some warnings in the navigation guide for the strong current but we have no problems at all. The Doubs is coming from our left-hand side. The towpath is also on our left. It's crossing the Doubs by an iron bridge with a strong iron railing with a little wagon on it. The wagon with two enormous hooks can ride on the railing. In earlier day when the ships were towed by men or horses the barges were tied up to the wagon and by pulling the wagon on the railing the barges could resist the strong current of the Doubs. We leave the river immediately behind us by means of a safety lock. We spend the lunch interval in Dampierre-sur-le-Doubs where we are moored next to a little church on a rock. A statue of Maria is placed in the rock.
We navigate on in the afternoon. We are having some problems navigating out of the loch twice. There is a current near an exhaust just behind the lock, there is some wind and as we touch the side of the lock walls with the back, the boat goes diagonal in the canal. We are stopping quickly and succeed in correcting it by mean of the hooks,. We continue our course. Every year we have to get used to steering a boat again!
This boat isn't very practical to navigate. From the steering wheel one has to go by a little ladder to the quarter-deck to help with the ropes and the boards to the front are very narrow. The children still have discussions on the subject of who's sleeping where. There are two double beds but above one of them is so little space that they can't pull up their knees. Happily the boat has a nice and spacious living room.
The landscape is varied. At our right-hand side the Doubs is meandering, sometimes closely sometime at some distance. Meadows with strips of wood are situated between the canal and the river. We hardly see arable land. The canal is usually situated more highly than the river. At our left-hand side we see a hilly landscape. I take a better look at l’Isle-sur-le-Doubs in the end of the afternoon. It is a nice town. Alongside the river an old paper factory is built and some old characteristic houses.