Wednesday, 22 May 2013

A Big Hole in the Canal

No posts for a while, as we've been a bit stuck for a while.

We left Roanne in the pouring rain, and from there the weather went downhill; seriously downhill. A couple of nights later we had a huge thunderstorm, sheet lightening, forked lightning - the full works. Thankfully Emma slept right through it and Stephen slept through most of it, thinking it lasted about 10 minutes (it actually went on for about 2 hours).

We've had some good weather, but not much. So much rain in fact, that the canal we are on (Canal du Centre) has burst at Montchanin, at the summit of this canal, so we are stuck until it is repaired.

We are at Genelard, which is about 18-20 miles from the burst point, but there is no other way to go round it, so we we're just waiting.

Stephen went for a look at the site and the progress with our neighbours Andrew and Laurel yesterday morning, so if you've ever wondered what an empty canal looked like, here's your chance to find out:

The breach occurred when a sluice gate gave way where the worker in the orange jacket is standing. To give you an idea of depth/scale, the distance between the bottom of the canal and the worker is about two metres.

The empty bit of the canal measures about 4km, so you can imagine that is a huge amount of water to lose and to then refill, once the repairs are completed. The picture above shows the last lock on the empty section.
The above picture shows the boatyard at Montchanin. You can see the boats have been left resting on the side and bottom of the canal; no way of telling how many have been damaged or holed by the rocks on the canal bed.

We are hopeful that the work and refilling will be finished at the end of the week, but whenever we ask the VNF workers (the organisation that runs the inland waterways) we get a lot of Gallic shrugs.
But, we have had some fun whilst being stuck; we met two Dutch families who were holidaying at the watermill in the next village, Palinges. They stopped to watch us pass through a lock and we all got chatting. A few days later we cycled to Palinges to visit a vide grenier (French car boot sale) and have a cup of tea with them and arranged for them to come on a trip with us from Genelard back to Paray Le Monial.
The weather was pretty good that particular day and we all had a great time. I really enjoyed having Rik to handle all the ropes for me
He did really well; our boat weighs over 12 tonnes, plus fuel and water, so that's a lot of weight to control through just one rope.
Paul, Yaltah and Juul acting as lookouts
Stephen got plenty of help with the steering
Every car, fisherman, cyclist etc we passed got a big wave
And Mannon and Roland just went with the flow.............................
Our original plan for this summer was to go down the Rhone to the Med, then come back and go north towards Strasburg. However, so many rivers and canals are closed or restricted due to the flooding caused by the enormous amount of rain we've had, so we, and every other boater, are doing a lot of re-planning.

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