2015 European waterway cruise – Canal de la Meuse Part 2
|On the Canal de la Meuse|
Charleville to Verdun –
This section of Canal de la Meuse was probably the most frustrating for lock related delays and problems.
The 121 kms, 23 locks with a total rise of 53 metres, took us 5 days.
4 days of boating and 1 day where we stayed in
Mouzon because the rain was bucketing down.
|Lock on the Canal de la Meuse|
The very first lock after leaving Charleville, when we pressed the button on the remote (telecommand – as the French call it) nothing happened.
We had been warned not ever to press the button a second time, as this would cause the whole lock system to shut down!
|Canal de la Meuse|
We waited a while.
Then tried to get Karen ashore to go to the intercom at the lock, but there was nowhere close that I could get Shangri L alongside.
So in desperation we did the unthinkable – pressed the button again, and hey presto – the lights came on and the lock sequence started.
|One of many bridges on the Canal de la Meuse|
A few locks further on, we were in the lock, the water had risen and we waited for the gates to open.
So on to the intercom and contacted VNF. And to our surprise, even though it was lunch time, 10 mins later the ubiquitous VNF van arrived, a lockie opened the gates and we were on our way again.
|The VNF van|
The original plan had been to stop at Sedan, but it didnt look very inviting so we pushed on to Mouzon.
Another cute little place, though not a lot happening.
Cost was Euro 8 per night including water and electricity.
|Beautiful old church in Mouzon|
And even wifi, though one had to sit right at the office/toilet block to get signal.
That night it rained heavily, and the next day, as per forecast, the rain continued.
So we stayed put for the rest of the day.
As did all the other boats.
|Shangri La – taking water in Mouzon|
During one of the breaks in the rain, I took a brief walk up around the town.
Wednesday morning dawned fine and clear again, so after topping up with fresh water we continued on our way.
|Shangri La in Dun-sur-Meuse|
After 37 kms and 6 locks we tied up at another tiny place – Dun-sur-Meuse – just after 16.00 hours.
Along the whole next stretch of the canal, the locks would be manual and operated by a lockie.
On the quay next to the boat was a big sign saying that if we wanted a lock keeper the next day we had to phone BEFORE 15.00 hrs to arrange!
This is apparently the requirement from 1st September onwards.
The next lock was actually very close, so we walked up there, and found a VNF chap busy there.
We explained our predicament, and he got on his phone, we gave the name of our boat etc,
and thought that all was well.
We walked around Dun-sur-Meause and did a mini shop up.
|VNF man manually operating the lock|
Next morning we set off, and mananaged to get through the first five locks with no plroblem.
I relaized afterwards that this was because there were boats coming the other way
and the lockies happened to be there.
|Stuck at waiting pontoon – Lock 23|
But at lock 23 – not a soul!
When one thing goes wrong, the next follows.
There was a small waiting pontoon next to the lock.
Now I pride myself on my boat handling, but in the frustration of the moment, I misjudged and we put a small scrape in the paintwork on the port side.
|Manual lock on Canal de la Meuase|
Not very happy at that point.
We walked up to the lock, and found a VNF maintenance guy there.
He got on his phone, and we found that there were no lockies available for the next 4 locks as we had not booked one!
|Canal de la Meuse – with River Meuse below|
Doubly mad now, I decided to repair the scratch.
This I did, but in climbing back on board with all the tools and paint etc, I slipped and
dislocated my little finger!
Managed to yank it more or less back, but to this day it is not quite right.
|Handling ropes in the lock|
Anyway, so we spent the night in the middle of nowhere, nursing my hand, over a couple of beers and a glass or 2 of wine.
Next morning, the lockie we had now booked arrived, and we did the last 4 locks to Verdun by 13.20 hours.
We tied up at the town quay, with water and electricity, all for free. No wifi though.
|Rare commercial barge on Canal de la Meuse|
There were a couple of other boats here and we got chatty with a very friendly German couple, discussing our planned routes.
During this conversation it transpired
that the Canal des Voges, our planned route, was closed due to insufficient water!!
Would have been nice to have known this before.
|Old gates to Verdun|
Had we known this, we would have branched off earlier at Pont-a-bar, just before Sedan, and and gone via Canal des Ardennes.
All was not lost however.
We would deviate at Troussey and go via canal de la Marne au Rhin and Canal de la Marne a la Saone.
|Rare lock – with floating jetty|
Not so good was it would add an extra 40 or so locks and a few days to the trip.
Now a bit under pressure, we hastily called and booked a lockie for the next morning.
We took a quick walk up to the town centre and did a shop up.
Verdun was not particularly inviting, so not sorry to be moving on.
Next – stressful days on the Canal de la Meuse