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On Canal du Centre

On Canal du Centre

Chalon-sur-Saone to Chagny

Wednesday 19th July 2017

So finally it was time to leave the River Saone and venture into the Canal du Centre – a totally new waterway for us. Canal du Centre was indeed as beautiful as we had been told, but a lot of locks, lots of low bridges, and also relatively shallow. And it was another scorcher of a day!

Ecluse 34 b - C du Centre 10.7 m rise

Ecluse 34 b – C du Centre 10.7 m rise

We left Chalon about 9 am. We expected a longish day with only 21 kms to travel, but 12 locks to ascend to reach Chagny, our intended stopping place.
The entrance to the canal, and the first lock is only a few of kms north of Chalon. As we approached the lock there were a couple of pleasure boats coming the other way so I thought the lock might be ready for us – but no – they had already closed the gate and started filling it for some more boats to lock down. So we had to tie up at the waiting pontoon. Not the speedy start to the day that we needed.
This first lock was the deepest – at 10.7 metres. Actually the deepest lock we have been through ever with Shangri La. Fortunately it was fitted with the floating bollards, so it wasn’t too hard. Just took a long time.

Ecluse 34 b C du Centre

Ecluse 34 b C du Centre

Anyway, we finally rose up and exited the lock into the calm and serenity of the Canal du Centre. It made for very pleasant cruising, through the winelands of the Bourgogne region, and watching the birdlife. Also loads of cyclists using the towpaths.

Birdlife on the Canal du Centre

Birdlife on the Canal du Centre

Then we encountered the next problem – hotel boats! This section of the canal seems popular for a number of these boats. Not sure why they bother, as even though it was peak season there were not many people on each boat. But they do!

Sharing the towpath with cyclists

Sharing the towpath with cyclists

The problem is those boats are relatively deep for the waterway, and thus do not make much speed at all. They are also very big and take up the whole lock.
So when we arrived at the second lock, we had caught up a boat called Danielle, which had just entered the lock. We had to wait while it, very slowly, negotiated the lock, and for the lockie to empty and prepare the lock for us. And as the locks are about a kilometre apart, we soon caught up again and had to wait some more. Most frustrating.

Hotel boat hogging the canal

Hotel boat hogging the canal

And as I said – it was hot! We knew we would have to have our radar arch folded down, but had hoped we would be able to keep the forward awning up. In theory it should have been possible as the guide said the minimum clearance was 3.5 metres. But after one or 2 very close shaves we got to one bridge which was definitely too low. So down came the forward awning too. We did this only one or two time on this stretch. The next stretch we ended up with it down all the time. Not Karen’s favourite!

Shangri La with radar arch and aft awning down

Shangri La with radar arch and aft awning down

The hotel boat eventually stopped for the day and we made better time. We arrived at Changny to find there was no mooring space available. Common problem at this time of the year! So we found a wild stop about a km further along and tied up there using our own pegs hammered into the ground. At first I thought we would be okay there, but a smaller hotel boat came passed with no problem but mentioned that Danielle, my pet hate boat world be coming along in the morning and might not get through. So we upped and moved further along to a wider spot in the canal.
Good thing, as next day sure enough Danilelle came past, causing huge surges in the water and almost ripping out our mooring pegs. She also caused another pleasure boat coming the other way to hit the side of the canal.

Wild stop near Chagny

Wild stop near Chagny

After that day we were too hot and tired to go into Chagny. We stayed on board, chilling, with cold beer and wine. And cooked on board – good chance to try out our new generator properly.
That day we had ascended some 50 metres through the 12 locks.

Next – Chagny.

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