Canal du Centre

Canal du Centre

Tuesday, May 10, 2016

Down the Saone, Up the Centre, May 3-7

Our first stop was the river junction town of Verdun sur la Doubs, where the River Doubs meets the Saone.  We had stopped here twice before, once balancing on a way too short finger pontoon, the other on the nearby stone quay. With Oldtimer it would have to be the quay.  This boat is much to heavy for the pontoons. After a rainy morning we rounded the corner off the Saone to make the short leg up the Doubs and came almost to a stop. This section of the river is uncontrolled by weirs and it was hooting! We struggled the 1 k up to town to find the quay completely underwater and the only available spot rafted up to a cruiser owned by a Swiss couple at the end of the pontoon, luckily not on one of the tiny fingers. After a couple of passes we were able to get lines up, string out every available fender between the two boats and shut down the engine.
By the time we were tied up it had stopped raining and we had a nice walk around the very old town, including over to the island park that they were just beginning to develop the last time we were here in 2011.

Verdun sur la Doubs

The next morning it was back out to the Saone in the bright sunshine, the short trip down the Doubs much quicker than up it! By 11 am we had entered the Canal du Centre and about noon were secure in the small port of Franges, although not so small any more. What was once a small set of bankside bollards with electricity and a nearby restaurant had now spread all along the bank with new bollards just installed and new water and electricity points. It looks like they’re making a big push to be a good spot for hivernage, or winter storage, and convenient for longer stays. Since we’d only be staying one night we managed to find a spot to drive stakes into the bank just before the port and settle in for the night.

An old chapel along the canal

 Shortly after we arrived a large hotel barge pulled in and tied up.  Cathy Jo consulted with the deckhand a learned they would be heading up the canal in the morning.  Since the hotel barges take priority, it would be a long day for us. They are very slow and we would have to wait for every lock to prepare for us. Much to our surprise and delight, about 9 am the next morning, the deckhand walked over and asked if we’d like to leave first. If Oldtimer could burn rubber it would have as we fired up and entered the first lock about 9:10. We only had to wait a short time at one lock of the 11 locks for a downbound boat and managed to reach one of our favorite haltes, Santenay, by 1:30 pm.

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