Canal du Centre

Canal du Centre

Friday, July 7, 2023

Much More Excitement, June 18-23

 Carl and Janna safely aboard and after a visit to Agnes wonderful Sunday produce market we were off to our first stop, a return for me to Buzet-sur-Baise. We arrived a little before 3 pm and found the usual bankside spot in the shade unoccupied so put our the stakes and made reservations to visit the restaurant for dinner.

The happy couple glad to be in France

I had planned for just a short day on Monday, about 2 hours, a return to the bastide town of Vianne that I had earlier visited with Kevin so there was plenty of time to visit the Buzet wine coop.

The Buzet region produced good wines as far back as the Middle Ages and they were exported around the world, even to the US. However, the phylloxera epidemic at the beginning of the 20th century did serious damage to the regions reputation and quality declined. A cooperative was formed in 1955 and an AOC label was finally obtained in 1973. About 90% of the regions growers joined the effort, an unusually high number. Lately, the coop has taken on increased environmental responsibilities, using cover crops in the rows instead of constant plowing to cut down on erosion and avoiding chemical treatments to encourage native pollinators and local species. They have a very interesting and informative website in English.

It doesn’t look like much from the outside but

there’s much deliciousness inside.

Visit and purchases complete, about 1 pm we set off for Vianne and were tied up around 3 pm. Time enough for a little stroll around the village and a libation (or two) at the town bar.

Tuesday morning it was off to Nérac. The plan was to spend just one day there, then head back to Agen so Carl and Janna could catch the train to Bordeaux and my next guests, Jenny and Adrian, could join me there. Oh, how I wish!

Tuesday evening we had a big thunderstorm, the rain bucketing down. When we got up Wednesday morning, the river was running too fast to head downstream so we were going to have to wait until Thursday to leave. We’d have to hustle to make it to Agen for Carl and Janna’s train but the river had definitely calmed down by dinner time.

About 10 pm the clouds thickened we experienced the most intense lightning storm I’ve ever seen. The bolts were up in the clouds but it was an hour of constant flashes and thunder. Then the rain started to fall. Again.

I went to bed around 11:30 but about 2 am I was woken by creaking lines and got up to discover that the river had risen about 5 feet and we were marooned and floating over the top of the quay.

This was the mooring “before”

This was taken about 6:30 am

Note the bench compared to the earlier pic

This is a chart of the river levels.

From 1/2 meter over 0 to nearly 2 in about three hours.

The earlier little hump is Wednesday.

I called the gendarmes to let them know we were there but there was really nothing they could do. I put out the anchor just in case our lines let go so we wouldn’t go over the barrage and then we waited. Luckily the water went down just about as fast as it rose and by about 10 am we were once again down below the level of the quai, no longer of danger of being stranded aground. I really don’t know why we didn’t end up on the quai; some trick of the current, I guess, but we were safe and there was no damage to Oldtimer other than some paint damage from the anchor wire.

There was definitely damage to the river though. Trees and branches were down along it’s entire length so the authorities closed it to navigation and we would just have to wait. There was no word on when it would reopen.

The beautiful path through the park was now an impassable slog.

Some of the damage in the river just upstream from town.

I cleared some of the mud off the quai so we could make it to the stairs off the riverside without going up to our ankles in muck and Carl and Janna made a run to the tourist office to see if they could get some transportation to Agen on Friday to catch their train. The easiest way was by taxi so they made arrangements to leave just after lunch on Friday and I got in touch with Jenny and Adrian to let them know where I was. They were doing some touring around France by car so they could arrive as scheduled on Monday.

I was going to get a really good look at Nérac.

Wednesday, July 5, 2023

Some Excitement, June 8-18

Secure in Montauban by 1 pm on Thursday we wandered into town just for something to do. I had already been here with Tim and Christine and really the only thing I missed was the Ingres Museum featuring the works of Emile-Antoine Bourdelle and his acolytes. About the museumMore on the collection.

One of the rooms was dedicated to satire and copies of the works. I got a kick out of this one, based on one of his more famous paintings, La Grande Odalisque which is displayed below the poster.

The caption of the poster reads, “Do women have to be naked to enter the metropolitan museum? 

Less than 3% of the artists exhibited are women but 83% of the nudes are female.”


On Thursday we had passed Kevin and Eleanor on Milou, a couple from Ireland that Cathy Jo and I met last year on our way down from Briare. They were moored up in Lacourt Saint Pierre, the small village right at the beginning of the Montech embranchement where I earlier stayed with Tim and Christine. They rode their bikes down and joined us for lunch at the marina and we made arrangements to stop to see them again on our way out Saturday.

I was also introduced to the wonders of rugby. Being an Aussie, Kevin is a big rugby fan and Friday night was the semi-final of the French championships featuring the team (or side, if you will) from Toulouse against a side from Paris. We went looking for a rugby bar to watch the match but were unable to find one so Kevin found a broadcast that we could watch on his laptop. Toulouse slaughtered the Parisians. I think maybe I need to find out a little more about this sport.

Saturday we headed off, arriving in Lacourt just after lunch. Kevin, Kevin, Eleanor and I all retired to the local bar for the afternoon and had a great time. 

Sunday we got a late start as I wanted to show Kevin the water slope at Montech but, being Sunday, the exhibit was closed so we just cycled around it looking at the exterior displays.

Just about 2 hours after our departure we were tied up at the halte in Escatalens where we enjoyed a great evening thunderstorm, a preview of things to come. Monday just after noon we arrived in Moissac, Tuesday about the same in Valence d’Agen and Wednesday again about 1 pm in Agen.

Thursday Kevin would be off for more adventures; up to Antwerp to look at a barge, then to Paris for the Air Show then to London to complete work toward his captains license then back to France for another boat ride. The man does get around!

I had a couple days to get the boat ready for my next crew, Carl and Janna, friends from Ventura, but before their arrival I had a little excitement. A cruiser pulled into the slip next to me and got tied up Friday afternoon. I wasn’t sure what was going on but one of the passengers came over asking for a pump. I don’t have one but he lifted up the floorboards to show me the bilges full of water; about halfway up the engine! “Call the pompiers”, was my advise and the fire brigade showed up a short time later.

They got to use all their toys; submersible pumps and hoses and the divers even got into the act to make sure there wasn’t a hole in the bottom of the boat.

I suspect the problem was water leaking in around the propeller shaft but I kept my nose out of it.

Saturday afternoon Carl and Janna arrived by train from Bordeaux. We had a very nice dinner out and Sunday morning, after a visit to Agen’s wonderful outdoor produce market, off we went to revisit the Baise River.