Monday, September 30, 2019

Port-sur-Saône to Traves

Saturday – September 28
Slow start in the morning, having a couple of days off gets us out of the routine of getting underway, without relaxing over a couple of cups of coffee and catching up on the news. Today’s run was only 11km and two écluse. As we approached our second écluse we noticed a tower from a château sticking up through the trees, we’d missed it going upstream because of strong wind gusts that were keeping our attention on the water in front of us. Once out of the écluse we made a u-turn to go back up the Saône towards the weir that created the need for the écluse we had just completed. There were a couple of docks available so we did a quick tie-up and walked down to Chemilly a town of a dozen houses and a once fortified château, now house. Pretty little residential town that took about ten minutes to walk, then back to the boat.

Juniper at the dock near Chemilly Château - just a short walk along the river to the town.
Château Chemilly, still a private residence, so this was as close as we could get
Our ideal overnight spot for tonight was Scey-sur-Saône a town, with some interesting architecture and a small quay with room for about four boats, that we had bicycled through on our way upstream. We were lucky enough to find only one boat at the quay. We walked the town, had lunch then got back on our bikes to ride back to du Château de Rupt-sur-Saône, it should be open today. The weather forecast was great 0% chance of rain. We got almost all the way out of town before the rain started, but fortunately never strong enough to have us get out our rain-gear, or call it quits.

Juniper at the Quay in Scey-sur-Saône. On the Saône just above the weir to continue we had to go back up the river and take the diversion around, using an écluse to make up the difference caused by the weir.
The château was indeed open and we were able to walk the grounds and see into many of the buildings within its walls. The château was built on the site of a 12th century castle, some of the buildings made use of sections of the old curtain wall and le donjon, or keep, was still intact and open to climb. The stairs were between the inner and outer walls and spiraled up. The treads were anywhere from 4 to 6 inches deep and each step was quite high, to make it more interesting it was quite dark. The view from the top was great and the trip back down the steps wasn’t quite as bad as we thought it might be. Well worth the bike ride and a little rain.

The Petite Château, made from part of the old castle curtain wall and one of the towers
Looks impressive, but really is very tiny.

The Pavillon de Chasse 1860-1870. Where the hunters gathered before the hunt. The château grounds also included a large kennel for the dogs and their caretakers
Le Donjon or tower part of the original defensive castle
Joan coming down the stairs from the tower.
It was much darker without the flash

View from the top - well worth the climb
Sunday – September 29
Woke to a beautiful sunny morning, great reflections on the water and just a hint of fog remaining. Took our time over coffee and croissants. First I received a phone call, but didn’t hear it but for some strange reason actually checked the voicemail (I almost never do that over here). At the same time I’m listening Joan gets a call, but misses it. Turns out there was a problem at our house and it was one of our neighbors calling to let us know at 1:00am their time. He kept us up to date as the police arrived and we talked with them. All seems to have worked out fine and several of our neighbors have made contact with us today to offer any help we might need. It’s sure nice to live in such a supportive environment.

Made it to our evening stop a bit later than we’d hoped as we were a wee bit late getting underway. Heading up another unused section of the Saône we were getting some pretty strong gusts (weather had them clocked at up to 55mph, though I don’t think ours were quite that strong). Arriving at our destination, Traves, we were able to get a place at the dock. Did a walk around town then the rain hit, so we Face Timed with the boys and Joan is now reading, while I’m writing. Crème Fraische Chicken on the menu for dinner, with wine of course.
For boaters coming into Traves - All the VNF markings that show on the chart have been removed, except the channel under the bridge. There is now a dark blue "arrow" pointing toward the harbor and a line of floats and fenders defining the very shallow portion of the entrance. There are 3 pontoons, each with room for two 15 meter boats (one on each side). When we were there, only three of the six spots were open for transient moorage, the rest were being used by the resort.

Friday, September 27, 2019

Auxonne to Port-sur-Saône

You always have to be looking
Leaving Gray, the next few écluse
had a frog strategically placed.
Left Auxonne on Monday the 23rd - the next two days took us to Gray and finally to Port de Savoyeux where we enjoyed a wonderful dinner and wine, while listening to the rain pounding on the deck (we’re warm and dry).
Wednesday September 25
Joan and I met with the foreman of Saône Plaisance over a cup of coffee in our galley, to get a quote to have “Juniper” painted in the near future. They had two boats in the shed, one just painted and the other still in the prep-work stages. It looked like they do a very thorough, professional job. Looking forward to hearing what it will cost.
We had a couple of tunnels on this route
After the meeting it was time to get on the water.  Today’s cruising was back and forth between time on the Saône and the frequent deviations that have been dug to cut some of bigger meanders out of the river. We passed a couple of towns that still have access by sections of the river bypassed by the deviations – looking forward to exploring those on our way back. We arrived in Port de Scey-sur-Saône in time to bicycle back to Rupt-sur-Saône, a picturesque village with a prominent château overlooking the town. Great ride on bicycle trail most of the way. The château was closed, but should be open on our return trip in a few days.
Joan's first time as captain going through a tunnel. Not much clearance and it's dark. Didn't even come close
to bumping an side of the tunnel.
Bicycling into the town of Rupt-sur-Saône. Château and ancient tower above town.
Château Rupt-sur-Saône 15th century petite château with 12th century tower (dungeon) remaining from castle
that protected the Saône valley during that time period.
Thursday - A bit of a sleep in morning as we’re only traveling about 7km today, all the way to Port-sur-Saône. Arrived in a bit over an hour to a marina that has next to no boats that are still cruising. A quick trip to the boulangerie gave us fresh bread for the first time in a few days. Our afternoon was spent exploring the town. We were happy to see signs along the path to the marina talking about a new bridge and bypass around Port-sur-Saône for the highway. Right now the highway runs right down the main street of town and it is often bumper to bumper big tractor trailers going through an old town with a narrow two lane road. It will be interesting to see what happens when it’s safe to walk the sidewalks of the main street in town.
Fisherman statue on diversion in

Friday – Predicted to be rainy, and we weren’t disappointed. After a quick boulangerie run for croissants to go with our coffee we sat down in our galley to meet with the paint crew at Port-sur-Saône for a quote here as well. We had the chance to see a ex-charter boat older than ours and that apparently had been in worse shape, looking like a shiny brand new boat.
Close-up of paint job and new rub rail on retired charter boat that was older and in worse condition than "Juniper"
Being rainy we did a provisioning run, then Joan did some cleaning and when the rain let up for a bit I did some engine work before we retired to cross stitch work for Joan and the blog for me.
Joan throwing her boule in a short game of péntanque - We were using one of the lanes at the local bouldrome.
We had a short break in the rain – just long enough to grab our boules and run over the boulodrome to practice our péntanque skills. We were able to play for maybe 15 minutes before the next front came through. A quick walk back to the boat and it’s wine, blogging, reading and if it gets light enough more cross stitching for grandma.

Ranchot to Besançon and a little château hunting

September 9 – Monday
Early morning fog kept us running at slow speed and watching our chart. Still a very beautiful morning
Woke to a heavy fog that didn’t look like it was going to clear anytime too soon. We waited till about 8h30 before deciding to give it a try. After-all, we are on a relatively narrow canal and we can see both sides. As we came to the second flood gate the fog appeared to be so thick we couldn’t see anything beyond the opening. Fortunately as we can through it was only an optical illusion – we could still see both banks. As we moved from the canal to the River Doubs the fog remained, fortunately the channel was to stay within 15 meters of the right bank – close enough to still see it.
Cruising on the River Doubs can be amazingly beautiful

One of the prettiest places to tie up for a break, or a night - and it's free. Of course there are no amenities but the view.

Joan was running the boat throught the écluse this morning, so for once she's in the picture
By around 10h00 things began to clear and we were able to not have a chart open all the time. The sun eventually broke through into a beautiful fall day.
We reached our destination during the éclusier’s lunch break. Having done this canal once before we knew it was a really deep écluse, Joan got off at the pontoon to handle lines from above.
After lunch, as the only one on the mooring pontoon we took off on our bikes to again hunt châteaux. Saw the château across the river from a distance and found the one in the town of Thoraise, but like our previous find it was blocked from view by high walls and lots of vegetation. On for Château number 3, the Château de Montferrand – or at least its ruins. We had seen it from the River Doubs on our previous trip. We followed roads that appeared to be heading in the correct direction and finally found a Rue de Chateau, a sure sign we were close. There was a well designated trail leading from the end of the Rue, but no sign saying we were going the right way. Not sure if bikes were allowed on the trail and having no place to leave them we pushed them along the trail for quite a while, in what seemed to be the wrong direction, before meeting a large hiking group, through pantomime and single common words it appeared there was a way to the tour (tower) from the trail we were on. With fresh directions we struck out again, till the trail petered out to almost nothing and got a bit steep – time to dump the bikes. As we continued on this trail we ran into a lone hiker who verified we were on a trail that would lead us to the tour.
Pushing our bikes along this beautiful hiking trail, in search of the elusive château ruins
Arriving at the ruins we were treated to a wonderful view of the Doubs valley and once again we looked in wonder at how a tower (the one remaining piece) could be built right on the edge of a sheer cliff after hauling stones to the top of hill.
The tour (tower) is in sight. We started right below, but the trails we took lead us through the woods for extra exercise.

We found it. Not much left of the old fortress, but the challenge
and the view made it worth while
View of the River Doubs valley from the château. Well worth the climb
Going back was easy – coasting most of the way, once we walked our bikes back to the road.
The next morning we were enjoying our coffee watching the boat in front of us, not tied to the pontoon but to shore, trying to get free from the bottom. Apparently the water level had gone down overnight. They were trying everything in the book to get free. Michael, of course had to get involved. It came to the point of trying to push the boat off. Not thinking it would really come loose, especially with any speed, he positioned himself for maximum leverage off the bank. Well, the boat did come loose, and moved rather quickly into deeper water leaving Michael behind trying to catch his balance. Needless to say he didn’t catch his balance and was christened with canal/river water nearly to his neck. Guess next time he’ll show a bit more self preservation. The couple on the boat did reward the effort with the best bottle of wine we’ve had so far on the trip, so it wasn’t a total disaster.
The rest of the trip to Besançon went smooth – till the last écluse. It wasn’t working. We inched our way up to a ladder going up the wall and Joan climbed to street level to bring back help from another écluse that happened to be across the street. Easy going from there. Now a couple of days cleaning, washing clothes and provisioning before our guests arrive.

Tuesday, September 24, 2019

Auxonne and French Heritage Days

The past couple of weeks have been busy - here's what's happened the past few days - We'll try to catch up on the missing ten days soon.

Friday we left Saint Jean de Losne for Auxonne, about 20km up the Petite Saône with only one écluse. What an écluse it turned out to be. We arrived to a red light and saw that there were two boats coming down, by the time it was down we had a second boat waiting to go upstream with us. As we came up in écluse we could see six boats waiting, one long enough that it was blocking the entire diversion with its bow on one side and stern on the other. Some good boat handling got him free and back in the channel by the time we reached his location in line.
Spent the afternoon revisiting our first port of call with Juniper in the Burgundy region while our guests made reservations for a train to Paris the next day. Tonight would be our last night together so it was out for a farewell meal that included many French traditional courses that were shared all round.
Saturday – Early start. Our Jeff and Anna’s train was scheduled for 6h30 and it was at least a ½ hour walk. We got up a bit after 4h00 and were off and walking by 5h15 to make sure they would not miss the only train that had room that day. Everything came off like clockwork with Joan and I walking back to the boat by 6h31, going via the boulangerie for croissants. A few more hours sleep and we were ready for boat projects – first thing laundry. Our trip to the Laundromat or Lavarie in French made our weekend, We ran into two other boating couples that told us about the French Heritage Days that were happening all over the country for two days. The town we were in, Auxonne, had quite a schedule. Everything from the church tower being open for tours, to the military base having tours including the rooms Napolean used as a cadet, to a display put on by the people of Auxonne celebrating the cultural differences and bonds with other countries that make France what it is today. We took it all to heart and had a wonderful weekend exploring what France is all about.
View form the top of the church tower. You can see the Saône heading north and little bit of Port Royal, the marina
we are in. The buildings just under the river are the military base where Napoleon started his career - still an
active base today.
View from the top of the church - Auxonne houses and street. A lovely town we always enjoy coming back to.

We'd seen the posters but hadn't translated them, or understood the countrywide celebration of what
makes France the country it is. There were open houses at historic places, écluses having open houses,
military bases open to the public, and even more fun, ethnic groups celebrating being French.

Our first interaction (much in pantomime) was with the Confrérie lde L'Oignon
D'Auxonne. The chef is hard at work poaching eggs to go with the onions,
potatoes and ham that make up the tasty piece of history that is part of Auxonne.
Joan with two members of the  Confrérie lde L'Oignon
D'Auxonne, plus Barbara one to the boating gang we met at the laundromat that filled us in
on the options we had for the weekend.
Auxonne citizens from French Polynesia shared culinary treats that make up a large part of their culture along with
telling how their culture meets with the French culture
More treats, from mango drinks to tasty treats - again, not the France we normally think of,
Celebrating the French connection were citizens from Senegal, sharing food and drumming.
The local Portuguese community also shared tasty treats and the best Porto Blanc we've ever had. Celebrating the bond
between the two countries.
More treats and culture form Lagoa Azul
More treFinished off with our first game of boules with boaters we met at the Laundromat before enjoying some wine with them, then dashing back to Juniper before the rain set in for the evening.
Great Heron (Joan's spirit animal) keeping watch on our progress up the Saône this morning. His good spirit kept
us dry all the way to today's stopping point of Port de Savoyeux.
The next two days took us to Gray and finally to Port de Savoyeux where we’re enjoying a wonderful dinner and wine, while listening to the rain pounding on the deck (we’re warm and dry).

Sunday, September 8, 2019

Chalon-sur-Saône to Ranchot on the Canal du Rhône au Rhin

September 2 – Monday – Another beautiful day on the Saône with today’s port of call Verdun-sur-Doubs. This is where the Doubs river, that we will be following with the Canal du Rhône au Rhin, meets the Petite Saône to become the Saône River. The lower reaches are not navigable so we have to put in another couple of days on the Saône to reach the canal.

River town of Verdun-sur-Doubs. At the point the Petite Saône and the Doubs combine to make the Saône
A few minutes after mooring at the marina this "ship" came down the Doubs River. Happy not to meet him on a turn.
Verdun-sur-Doubs is a beautiful river town with the bread museum – couldn’t miss that. Covered the history of bread, especially the history of the Baguette in France. Did a bit of provisioning but unfortunately missed getting to try, pôchouse verdunoise a local dish that is made from several types of fish stewed in white wine. The restaurant that is known for the best version was closed on Mondays

Wine on the sun-deck for a wonderful sunset on the Saône in Suerre.
Tuesday - Arrived in Suerre. A hot day and not much happening in town. The best shade was in a small park watching the elders of the town play boules. Certainly wish I understood French a lot better. There was lots of humor going on, that we could only get the gist of. Finished the evening off with a glass of wine on the sun-deck.

Wednesday we are in our home port of Sain Jean de Losne meeting up with boating friends Jon and Bev. Helped them move their boat to the slings to be hauled for the season, then met the gentleman that will be doing painting and polishing on their boat this winter (a possible candidate to work on Juniper). We returned to the boat to host the three of them to poo-poos and wine on the sun-deck before moving off to the pub to meet with the Kiwis and Aussies for their weekly get together and finally dinner on the quay with some of the Kiwis.

A great option a couple of Kiwi Rialto canal boats used for a front cockpit bimini. Inexpensive and it works great.
We may have to consider copying this great idea.
September 5 Thursday – A much needed morning shower told us what we’d be doing for the day. After the shower we had a smell like a gas leak that meant our shower sump had overflowed into the bilge. Took the mid-cabin apart to reach the hatch then opened the sump for some testing. Luckily just a bad float switch and it was in stock in town. However once open the sump and adjoining settling tank should be bailed dry and cleaned. An awkward, slow and smelly job – we sure smell good now.
Float switch replaced - Now it's a long reach into the bottom of the smelly sump
to get a cup of gray sludge at a time. Glad to have that job over for a while
Friday morning found us taking a quick jaunt up the Saône to the Canal du Rhône au Rhin. We’ve rarely had to share a lock while cruising in France – that all changed this year. With most of the canals closed due to lack of water it’s a busy year on the Rhône au Rhin. We shared every lock on the route to Dole. Had a peaceful evening aboard.
Joan as the captain gets to handle the bow line in the écluse. While her crew gets the stern line.
Saturday we had a not so early start, leaving Dole, that almost bit us. Again we started out with a lock buddy, that wasn’t very happy to have to share. At the first opportunity they shot far enough ahead to get into a lock and close the door before we arrived. Had the last couple of locks on the way to Ranchot to ourselves, Joan took advantage of the opportunity to brush up on her captain skills (not that they are ever very rusty). Arrived to a full quay, luckily a boat was just running to the grocery store. A quick turnaround and we were ready for the open spot. We were no sooner tied up and yet another boat arrived. Biked to Fraisans, a nearby town that is big enough to have a grocery store, to pick up some much needed provisions. Slow afternoon, Joan worked on her needlepoint while I cooked dinner.
Joan working on her grandma skills - working on a needlepoint Christmas stocking for first granddaughter Emma.
September 8 – Raining – too much trouble to put on raingear. Had a second cup of coffee and braved the drizzle for 100 meters to the boulangerie for croissants and bread for lunch. Looks like another work on the boat day for the morning. Got a bit of a walk in, then more chores before settling down to needlepoint and blog. Full quay again today, with disappointed boats having to continue on.

Friday, September 6, 2019

Saône River to Chalon-sur-Saône

August 28 Wednesday – Another early departure (we’d heard Tournus was always overcrowded and we wanted a spot for sure. We arrived to a nearly empty dock yet again – and again that didn’t last long. As you move into the naïve you move into the oldest barrel vaulted church in France. The technique allowed for windows to let light in. A stop for an afternoon coffee and ice cream before returning to the boat. Back aboard we just in time to see Grelige Henriette motor past, we had met Bill and Winnie the year we took our ICC certification exam (2015). When we came back in port after the exam they invited us over for wine to celebrate. It was nice to share a glass and catch up with old friends, this made for a complete day.
Église St-Philibert - the first Romanesque church
in France to use barrel vaulting - allowing them
windows to let in light.
Spent the afternoon touring Église St-Philibert. The oldest part of the church dates back to the 10th Century.

Exploring the alleyways on Tournus.
Thursday – Being in town meant boulangeries, which meant fresh croissants for breakfast and fresh bread for lunch. We walked the town trail, running into Bill and Winnie and family again. In the afternoon we walked to the Velo Musee that traced the history of the bicycle from its earliest version to carbon fiber racing machines and finally hit the super marche for provisions. Tomorrow we are on our way again.

We have three of the larger écluse to do on the Saône. After the Freycinet standard écluse we are used to on the canals
we feel lost in the space. Plus the lock keeper sits in a tower, so all is empty except us and this large expanse of water.

Welcome to Chalon-sur-Saône - Tour de France

Afternoon coffee in the square.
Friday – Another early start, our first big écluse and our longest day, so far this year, nearly 40km. Beautiful calm morning cruising through lovely agricultural land with the occasional small town or old building. Arriving at Chalon-sur-Saône the dock is again only about half full, making it easy to find a spot in a marina notorious for being full. After a toast to Poseidon and a well deserved  lunch we were off to explore the old town, starting with another impressive cathedral. As the afternoon heat caught up with us we returned to Juniper to sit in what shade we could find for the rest of the day.

The next day was also predicted to be hot (mid 90s with high humidity and no breeze). We walked into town early to do the town walk. Enjoying the variety of buildings and houses, from half timbered houses to major stone buildings. We stopped along the way at a wedding celebration outside the Hotel de Ville, at which Joan was recruited to take pictures for them. Then finished off our in-town time at the Musée Nicéphore-Niépce. Nicéphore-Niépce, born in Chalon-sur-Saône is credited with being the inventor of photography. Back aboard Juniper it was laundry day, followed by dinner and an evening visiting the couple from Denmark on the boat in front of us.

Sunday market in the church square - We then found it extended down the side street for a few blocks

Chalon-sur-Saône Sunday Market - Buying provisions for our next few days. Getting used to fresh picked local food.
Sunday – At last a cool day was predicted. To celebrate we slept in a bit, had a hot breakfast then were off to the Sunday market happening in the cathedral square. After market and lunch, it was time for boat chores: cleaning, vacuuming, electrical work and a little provisioning as we continue up the Saône in the morning.