Canal du Centre

Canal du Centre

Saturday, August 11, 2018

At the Top and Down, July 12-16

The weather forecast said it was going to be pretty warm for the next few days; around 90 F. When you’re living in a steel box you do whatever you can to keep cool. Luckily, even though there’s no shade to be had along the dike by the lake at Baye, there is a very nice swimming beach nearby and we would spend our afternoons there. It was still cooling off at night so sleeping was no problem and the morning’s were nice so we were able to get in some bike riding around the shore and to a nearby village, Bazolles, where there was a boulangerie. 
We arrived Thursday afternoon a little after 3 and settled in, putting up our “defense;” window reflectors and strategically positioned old bedsheets to keep the sun off the boat.

The Nivernais Canal enters from the bottom and we were moored along the wall between the canal and the lake.
The swimming beach is up at the top beyond the small marina and the canal enters the summit tunnels
on the right side about halfway down the picture after a right turn at the marina.

Sunset over the lake.

After a couple of days we were ready to press on despite the heat so Sunday morning we pushed off and entered the first of the three tunnels.
It’s about 3 k from the beginning of the trench containing the tunnels to the end with not much room to maneuver. The summit pound was opened in 1841 and it shows it. Sections of the bank, already pretty close, have collapsed into the canal making a tight squeeze.

After about 50 minutes of white knuckle driving we entered the first lock in the Sardy flight; 16 locks in 5 k but now we were headed down making locking much easier. When we stopped at the bottom of the flight in 2009 there was just a bank with some bollards but now the halte is a new, long cement quay with properly spaced bollards for tying up. Our friends John and Jo on Summertime pulled in a little later, having left Baye just after we did.
We celebrated our accomplishment with an ice cream from the nearby small temporary tourist office. We remarked on how quiet the canal was; we’d seen very little traffic. As a matter of fact, earlier we had worried about tackling the canal in July and August, fearing it would be very crowded, but the tourist office lady confirmed it; things were pretty slow. She also confirmed that there was nowhere nearby we could watch the World Cup Final between France and Croatia that evening. There was a bar with a tv in a nearby village but it was too far away. Luckily, there was a couple with a camping car (a small RV) parked at the moorings. I saw their satellite dish on the roof and the two of them peering in the open door. When I wandered over to see what they could possibly be watching (wink, wink!) they invited me to watch the second half. Their English was as bad as my French but victory needs no translation. We did hear a single honking horn to celebrate off in the distance.
Monday morning we continued on our way to our next stop at Chitry-les-Mines.

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