Wednesday 20th June
After a last shop up at the Intermarche, set out from Decize at 1030. Return journey in direction of Digoin much the same, though it was now a lot hotter. Glad we have finally worked out the best configuration for our awnings with the low bridges. Most of the time now we can keep the forward awning/bimini up, but lower it quickly if we have to.
We had decided to stop at Vanneaux, right after lock 12.
In the lock, who should we see on the quay but our friends Wyn and Donna!? Apparently, they stopped by to check on a guy they had met in Roanne – Karl, with a large Dutch barge, who was on his way back to Decize. To cut a long story short Karl needed to get to the hospital in Decize and was in no condition to navigate his boat, alone, as his crew had left him! Wyn then offered to take the boat (Colibri) back and asked me if I could spare a day and assist. Well of course.
Thursday 21st June
Lazy start as the plan was to leave after lunch with Karl’s boat Colibri.
All started well. The bow thruster worked. The engine was running, and the steering worked, although there was no rudder indicator. What could go wrong?!
First 2 locks went well, me driving. Shortly after we noticed the oil pressure had dropped 1 Bar. Decided at the next lock we would have a look. Wyn took the helm for the next lock and I went out to the foredeck to do ropes. I thought we were going a bit fast but from Wyn’s agitated signals discovered that the engine had stalled and he could not go astern!! I thought we might take the lock gates out, but I managed to get weight on the bow line and used it as a brake. Whew!
While the lock was emptying we looked in the engine hatch. Mmm – a lot of black sticky stuff in the bottom. It appeared the dip stick was not in properly. Fortunately, Karl had some oil on board. At first there was no apparent way to get oil into the engine?? Eventually poured it in through the breather.
And off we went. Oil pressure much better. Next lock Wyn said I could have control back.
And the same thing happened – stalled as soon as I tried to go astern. Fortunately, with the previous mess in mind I had gone in very slowly, and we managed again to brake with the mooring lines.
I found that the only way to keep the engine running was to keep the revs up and go through neutral as quickly as possible. In this dubious manner we managed to creep up to the next and last, automatic, lock and onto the mooring in Decize. Oh – forgot to mention – if the engine did cut out, the bow thruster would not work. The elements were in my favour at the berth as the wind was from dead ahead which helped considerably. Just a few more grey hairs added!
Karl was very grateful for the help. We all came back to Vanneaux and he treated us all to drinks and supper. Thank you – Karl.
(Oh I heard later from Wyn that they took out 60 litres of oil and water from the engine bilges!)
Vanneaux itself was a lovely stopping place. Bonus – free mooring. The first evening we made a barbeque on the lawn by the boat. Weather was still stinking hot so Shangri La was again draped with shade cloth to try and keep cool.
Here we saw a somewhat unusual sight – a group of people holidaying by horse and cart! 4 or 5 of them with a small extra cart for goods.