Dear Family and Friends
After 825.1 kms and 246 locks later, we are ready to come home. Mind you, home is a moving target – literally - as we will still be on the move for the next 24 months. So I guess home is where we lay our head at any given moment.
Auxerre was everything we had hoped and more. The views from the mooring were amazing. As I lay in bed, I looked out the aft cabin window and there was l’Abbaye de Saint-Germain outlined against the evening sky, beautifully lit to show off it’s amazing architecture. As if that wasn’t enough we also had a front row view of the Tour St Jean, la cathédrale Saint-Étienne and l’élgise Saint-Pierre-en-Vallée. Under the Abbaye is an amazing crypt which shows the barrel-vaulted naves dating back to the Carolingian times and a deep burial vault where Saint Germain was enshrined. The 15th century clock tower (La tour de l’Horlage) shows the movements of the sun and moon on one side and the hours on the other. The half-timbered houses are in amazing condition partly because the town centre has been classified as a protected area.
Auxerre Abbey and Tower
Not exactly to standard housing code!!
So there we were thinking we had this whole cruising business down pat. Phil has been handling the boat really well with only a very few bumps here and there. My job is to throw the ropes, jump off the boat to secure us to the bollards or cleats and navigate. So it came as a surprise when a lady lockkeeper started yelling at me in one of the locks. I couldn’t understand what she was on about - as far as I was concerned all was well – I had secured the boat as Phil taught me. Another boater translated and after discontinuing my rude gestures with the one hand I placed the rope as she directed. Oops – I see what she means. This is a better way to place the rope so that I could hold the boat much easier against the surge of water as the lock fills up. Who knew? The Captain doesn’t know everything! Quite a revelation for both of us.
However...... if you use the same technique when descending the lock and the ropes are wet , they can easily become jammed. By the time one gets the rope free from the cleat, the boat is about a foot above the water level and drops back down with an almighty splash. I won’t reveal who the idiot was that resulted in this dangerous situation but I can promise that she’s never going to do that again!!!!
The Canal de Nivernais is as pretty and pleasing as everything we’ve read and been told. The countryside opens up so we can see the fields and forests. There are amazing chateaus, and little villages - even an amazing fortified farm built probably in the 15th century. Some of the walls around the farm fields are crumbling but the farm buildings are in amazing condition.
First glimpse of the Canal du Nivernais
Chateau for 2 ??!! Owned by a doctor and his wife.
Field of beautiful sunflowers
We have eaten at two Michelin recommended restaurants. In Accolay – a little village that doesn’t even have an épicerie – has this wonderful restaurant with great food. They seated us in the garden – lovely. In our enthusiasm we shared a full bottle of wine between us. The walk home wasn’t exactly steady and I didn’t dare close my eyes until I’d sobered up – the world was spinning. The second was in Clamecy. We were wandering the town looking for a place to eat and saw this little tiny restaurant with a great gardened terrace. It only seats 20 people and they already had reservations for 19 but they took pity on us and let us in. Once again great food and really good local wine, which we shared with the New Zealanders and Aussies at the next table. The walk back to the boat was much steadier!
Michelin star restaurant in Clamecy
Ancient community wash house
Mooring along the canal for lunch near Vaux
It has been the best cruising year to date. That being said, we are looking forward to getting home – reconnecting with family and friends. I will be in Nanaimo from the 9th to the 15th of August - my Mom’s funeral is on the 11th. Dad is not doing well – his cancer has spread and he fell and broke his hip but amazingly he fights on to recover. We’ve rented a lovely condo in Edmonton with a view over the river valley and Phil is keen to get back to NAIT for the fall semester. So that’s all for this year! See you next May when we begin our cruise to the south of France. Yippee!
Love to all – Captain Doesn’t Know Everything and the Matelot (French for deckhand extraordinaire)