Log #18f Paris Part II

December 7, 2000 in Log Series 11 - 19, Logs by Series, Series 18 France, The Logs

Log #18f Paris Part II

Tournus, on the Saone, France
Written Dec.7, 2000
Covers the period Oct. 11 to 21, 2000

We were assigned a location at the far end of the marina, outboard of a British narrow boat, and astern of a British sailboat with mast on deck also. This end of the marina widens a bit to accommodate Seine tourist boats that tie up here in the marina, immediately before the tunnel which exits the marina into the St. Martin Canal. There is a lovely walkway on this side of the long narrow marina which goes through a pleasant tree-shaded trellised park with a couple of enclosed children’s play areas.

An inclined walkway leads up from the end of the pontoon walkway, and exits at Place de La Bastille, a large circular intersection with about ten streets and boulevards radiating from it. The area includes the Paris Opera, a hub for a dozen local buses and two major subway lines, dozens of boulangeries, brasseries, restaurants, movie theatres, grocery stores, phone and electronic shops, and the circular central plaza (in which nobody walks because they can’t get across the surrounding roadways) containing a towering column topped by a gold classical figure commemorating the second French Revolution of 1830. There are no remnants of the actual Bastille which was located in this area, but murals in the subway portray it.

We had a very enjoyable get together on Nefertari to celebrate Jean’s birthday, and to find out where all they had been travelling since we last saw them in London in the spring. We got local information from them, basically don’t go Canal du Rhone a Sete, it’s too shallow. We hope to meet up with Bill and Jean again, as they will be spending the winter in Barcelona after they return from Canada and the States.

We spent some time with Jacqui and Anders, and little Pierre, my nephew born on my birthday in July of last year while we were transiting the Atlantic. As we have been in Paris several times before, most of our touring had been done, so our time in Paris was low key, doing maintenance on Veleda, going to some wine caves, enjoying the local markets, boulangeries, and restaurants, and trying unsuccessfully to get our mobile set up to send E-mail.

We can send E-mail from our laptop when plugged into a land line, but to do so from a mobile is far more complicated. In Britain we were on Vodaphone Pay as You Talk, from which we could send E-mail from our mobile. Over here in France, we got a French SIM card for our phone and a Mobicarte, which is the French equivalent to Pay as You Talk. However, the French have different charges for E-mail and internet access, as well as other information lines for train reservations and other business access similar to our 800 numbers in Canada and the US. To access these on mobiles a contract is needed, involving a permanent address, and a minimum of a one year paid in advance agreement. I am not sure of the price for individual calls to these numbers, but I have heard it is up to 5 Ff ($1.00 Cdn) per minute. As we are only going to be in France for a couple of months, such would not be worth it. The other system we could have gotten while in England was a contract system there with a “roving” SIM card which would permit us to access E-mail anywhere in the EU, except that any calls made or received would have to go through England and of course the corresponding expense. So we plug into land lines when we can, or use the internet lines available from French Post Offices (larger communities only, and when the computers are working). We haven’t used cybercafes yet.

With our present mobicarte system, we can make calls in France, but not international calls. However, we can at least receive international calls. I still find it unusual to be talking on a telephone from a boat. However, there have been a few occasions when we could not contact a lock by VHF, and so called the phone number for it instead. If anyone has the local access numbers for AOL in Spain, the Balearics, Malta, Greece, Turkey, and Croatia, I would appreciate getting them, as my access to the on line services or the internet to get them is restricted.

We picked up 4 used tires from a local tire shop and attached them, two on either side of the bow, and two on the port and starboard quarters to supplement our two fenders and fender boards on each midships. Each tire is secured with two lines to prevent them being lost while in a lock (The bane of all lockmasters). We made large square sheets (in blue, Judy’s favourite colour) to hang over the toe rails beneath each tire to protect the sides of Veleda from black rubber marks. With the help of our British neighbours, we shifted the mast aft a few feet to reduce the forward overhang.

When it came time to leave after about four days, we checked with the marina staff regarding our proposed route. We intended to take the southern route which continued up the Seine a few kilometers, into Canal du Loing, Canal Lateral a la Loire, into Canal du Centre, which empties into the Saone River, which empties into the Rhone River at Lyon, and from there down to the Rhone estuary exiting into the Med at Port St. Louis, just west of Marseilles. We had all the Navicartes for this route and the depths and heights were OK. However!

In spite of all the rain this fall, the Canal du Centre was closed due to lack of water in the reservoirs. That route was out until the spring! Bernard phoned the VNF for us to find that the Marne system would be opened earlier (as it would normally be closed for winter maintenance), and the first section beyond Meaux would be opened on Oct. 25, and the section beyond Vitry-Le-Francois on the 30th. This route too would have adequate draft and height for us. So off we went to a local chart shop to get the Navicartes for the Marne, and Champagne-Ardenne (covering the Canal de la Marne a la Saone). These would take us into the Saone River, which we would have entered farther down on our original route from Canal du Centre. Thus we already had navicartes for La Saone et la Seille (for the Saone down to Lyon), and Le Rhone (from Lyon to the Med). However!

We left on Oct. 21 calculating that we would take until the 25th to get to Meaux, and would not be in Vitry-le-Francoise before the 30th, at which time we were planning to return to London for a few days. On our return from London, we would head on down (up and down actually, as we would be still heading up to the headwaters of the Marne, then crossing the summit over to the watershed into the Saone and Rhone river systems). But I get ahead of myself.

We left the marina in Paris at noon hour on Oct. 21`heading on up the Seine and turning left at Alfortville into the Marne River, less than 3 nautical miles away. After clearing the first lock, St Maurice, (height of lift only 1.54 m) by 1330, we moored alongside an unoccupied barge for a quiet lunch before proceeding into Ecluse Saint-Maur (height 4.0 m), and the 500 m Tunnel de Saint-Maur. Then the problems started!

No problem in the lock, but in motoring across the 300 m stretch of canal between the lock and the tunnel, I realized we were not pumping water! (For those of you not familiar with marine engines, water is pumped around the engine to cool it, then pumped overboard. If the water stops pumping the engine can overheat, doing severe damage if not immediately fixed or shut off.)  What to do? There were no mooring facilities in this short stretch leading to the tunnel. We couldn’t stop there, or even turn around. As we went into the tunnel, Judy tried to remove the top of the water filter but was unable to do so. She then took the helm as I tried to open it. No luck! I took a pair of channel locks to it, causing the plastic lid to crack, It then fractured.

We were half way through the tunnel. I took the helm again, praying that the warning light would not come on for a few more minutes. However, by the time we were clearing the tunnel, the warning light came on and the alarm started screeching at us. We were back into the Marne river current now, at a bend, in danger of being swept downstream if we shut off. I left the engine running and motored over towards a barge on the far side of the river. As soon as we were alongside, I shut down, even though our lines were not secure. We started to drift down the side of the barge before we got a line secured to a forward bollard high on the barge’s side deck. Whew, we were stopped and secured and could now address the problem. Not a simple one – I’ll tell how we dealt with it in my next log. A great way to start our voyage from Paris to the Med.