Canal du Centre

Canal du Centre

Saturday, September 23, 2017

Vitry to Bar-le-Duc, Aug. 20-24

It was about 20k to our first planned stop, Pargny-sur-Saulx. The first section of the canal follows the River Saulx and the canal is a pretty straight line from Vitry. The locks are also pretty close together, a feature of the Marne au Rhine canal that boasts 97 locks in 131k. We pulled into the moorings about 1:30 to find the pontoon full but a very nice English couple allowed us to raft alongside. They would be leaving the next morning and we decided since it was a nice spot and we were in no hurry, we’d take their spot when they left and spend Sunday at the dock.

The old school post office in Pargny

We walked into town to discover that, being Sunday, everything was closed but there was no great loss. The boulangerie would be open in the morning and fresh bread was about all we needed.
Tuesday was a little more work, 12 locks in 3 hours to  a pontoon provided by the VNF, the waterways authorities, in the village of Revigny. It’s a very long hike into town but Cathy Jo went anyway, gathering a few supplies. 
A signboard at the lock in Revigny also detailed the very elaborate means used to get water into the canal. Pumping stations on the Moselle and Meuse Rivers lift water into Bief 13 (that’s the canal section 13 locks above Toul), nearly 100’ up from the Mosell and about 30 ft. up from the Meuse. Then a big pumping station in the town of Vacon lifts the water from Bief 13 the nearly 120 ft. up to a reservoir that supplies the Bief de Partage (that’s the summit bief; the canal goes down each way from there. It’s also the site of the Mauvages tunnel. Later.)
Another 9 locks took us to the village of Fain-les-Sources on Wednesday. Along the way we were able to give Martin a true taste of the boating life, a minor breakdown. As we pulled into the fourth lock of the day, we discovered that the cable from the engine throttle control in the wheelhouse to the engine room had broken and we could not get the engine above idle. Luckily, the boat has a second, outside, steering station so that could be used. However, at the next lock we discovered that the transmission would not engage from the outside station, giving us throttle but no propulsion. A pair of pliers on the end of the cable solved that problem temporarily and we cleared 5 more locks to Fain. The moorings were full but there was good bank available for stakes and we were tied up about 1:30. Unfortunately, just on the other side of the canal is a very busy set of railroad tracks. A restful mooring it was not.
Adjusting the transmission cable from the outside steering station allowed the pliers to be stowed and on Thursday it was just 4 locks  and about 1 1/2 hours to Bar-le-Duc. Martin would be catching the train back to Paris on Saturday morning so we settled in for a couple of days.

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