Friday 22 June
Back in Trebes, having overnighted at Homps (the port, with water and electricity is free for the first night) and surmounted something like a dozen locks. Not always very well.
Yesterday was scorching and we were both pretty exhausted towards the end of the day. Fortunately a man from a boat full of South Africans gave me a hand occasionally with the lines.
On the run into Trebes we were hit by a violent thunder storm. Alan tried to drive from inside the cabin but not only did the wipers not work, the engine would only go in reverse, so we ended up stranded on the bank for a while before pressing on in heavy rain to the outskirts of Trebes where we moored for the night.
This morning we managed the triple lock at the entrance to Trebes in textbook fashion, just before everything fell apart in spectacular fashion. In brief, we tried unsuccessfully to moor in three different places and had to be helped out of awkward situations by other boaties. Alain de Botton talks about travel being a humbling experience – this was more like humiliation, and there were some tense moments between skipper and deck hand. The lessons? Knowing more about how the boat responds (or doesn’t), avoiding snap decisions, and improving communication.
The port is right in the middle of the small town here and the quay is lined with plane trees, pots of flowers, a handful of restaurants, an epicerie, boulangerie and, most important for travelers, a laundromat.
The canal water supports huge numbers of duck families and fig trees. This afternoon we saw a couple of coypu, like large water rats, in competition with the ducks for the stale bread we tossed in.
Although the Canal is full of what someone has termed tupperware boats like ours, along the way we’ve seen a few very attractive live-aboard models which have provoked a recurring conversation about what it would be like to make one of them your home for an extended time. A surprising number have a dog traveling with the (usually) middle-aged couple. I saw one tiny dog actually wearing a small life jacket. Next visit to France, we may spend some time inspecting boats for sale.
Colleen and Paul join us on Monday for the last few days as we travel downstream and deliver the boat back to Colombiers. Lots of locks again but all down hill, so much easier.