Part 2 – St Vit to Besancon
Tuesday 16th August
Locks on Canal du Rhone au Rijn
We wanted to get to Besancon not too late in the day, so made an early start – or as early as the locks open which on this canal is 08.30 am.
It was also a pleasure boating early, before the day got too hot.
The locks on this stretch of the Canal du Rhone au Rijn are quite deep – 1 of 3.85 metres, and a double lock of over 5 metres rise.
Sometimes one is in luck and the locks are set in our favour. Today, things were against us, and most times, the locks were full and had to empty to get ready for us.
One highlight of the day was the Thoraise tunnel. It is only 85 metres in length, but the authorities had turned it into quite a feature!. There was a water curtain at each end, and the roof of the tunnel was decorated with twinkling lights. On approach, one activated the remote contol, the light turned green (provided no boat was coming the other way), the first water curtain stopped and the roof lights flash into action.
Once past the entrance the first water curtain starts again, and as one approaches the end, the second water curtain stops (Hopefully – which it did in our case). As we popped up into daylight, there was a whole gaggle of cyclists watching the excitement from the road opposite.
We continued along the canal, through narrow cuts, passing one of the many barrages on the river, green hills and little villages on either side. This area is particularly known for it’s bell towers with shiny polished roof tiles.
The approach to Besancon is quite impressive – with the Citadel perched high on the cliffs above you.
We arrived at Besancon mid afternoon, having made rather good time. We were looking forward to getting moored early and have a relaxing evening. Didnt quite work out like that. Once through lock 54?, there are 2 choices – Another lock immediately to the right and go thrugh the tunnel under the citadel. or take the loop around the town to the port or marina on the other side of the town. The guide advises taking the loop as it is quite scenic. It does say the water depth is only 1.3 metres in this section, which is fine as we draw 1.1 metres. It also says the marina is okay for boats of our length/size.
I have discovered the guide always paints a rosy picture of everything! Well the loop was quite scenic, but not that much. The depth for most of the way was more like 2 metres, except for 2 short stretches. When we arrived at the advertised port, a young lad came out and asked us our length? 12.6 metres I said. No problem he said. It looked shallow, so I asked how deep? About a metre he said!! Well we tried, ever so gently to get in. It was impossible to get even the bow (which draws about 30 cms), let alone the stern alongside.
So we gave up and went back the way we came and tied up at the waiting pontoon near lock 54?, which fortunately was vacant. Not ideal – but at least we could moor for the night – and it was free!
….till next week – Bon voyage.
For Karen’s views on all this see here .