First day on the canal

Narbonne Travel Blog

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Canal de la Robine

This was the first good night's sleep for me.  Up at 7, I took a bike to get bread & croissants for breakfast.  I asked a lady walking along the quay for directions to the boulanger and she said there was none close by but I could get bread and croissants at the “tabac” just across the canal. Taking the foot bridge, the trip was short and I really didn't need the bike at all.  The sky held only scattered clouds but wind was cool and very strong.  I wrote on deck as everyone else slept. 

We are Episcopalians and Earl is our priest so, having all taken our showers and eaten, Earl celebrated mass.

Canal de la Robine
  We did so in the cabin since the wind was so strong on deck.  By this time, the two boats moored behind us had left so we were able to move close enough to the water tap to top off the tank.  It was about 10:30 when we finally got under way. 

We’d worked out our locking procedure on our last trip.  Here’s how it works when going upstream…  Before each lock, Earl takes the boat to one side of the canal and I jump ashore.  Then I walk (or run) to the lock while he handles the boat.  It is my job to either talk to the lock keeper if there was one or to operate the lock if it was automatic.  Helen positions herself on the bow with that mooring line and Lin on the stern with hers.

  Once the doors open, Earl brings the boat in, the girls toss me the lines and I pass them around the bollards and back down to them.  As the water in the lock rises, the girls keep the lines taut while I hang out and talked to other boaters, the lock keeper or anyone else hanging around.  It’s amazing how many locals hang around the locks to watch the goings on.  Once the lock is full the upper doors opened, I step aboard and we’re off again.

There was a boat ahead of us at the first lock and they had put two men on the ground to do what I do.  They were Brits and one was a bit more clueless than the other about how to operate the lock.  While the locks on this canal (Canal de La Robine) and the Canal du Jonction are automatic, this one has a lock keeper as well.

In addition to her, there was a guy there from Le Boat to help explain things presumably since this is the first lock north of the base and many boats depart on Sunday. 

This canal, like the two that followed is delightful.  It is lined on both sides with huge plane trees, planted hen the canal was built to protect it from the elements.  The result, though perhaps practical in origin, is a peaceful beauty that has to be experienced.  As it happens, there was a bicycle race heading southward along the tow path so we were treated to an endless string of riders going the other way.  I’m not sure our shouts of “Allez, allez!” spurred them on to greater glory but it was fun.

When we reached the second lock, two boats were ahead of us so I had Earl put me ashore early.  There were 3 boats locking down so we had a bit of a wait.  I assumed the guy standing in front of the control panel was the éclusier (lock keeper) but it turns out he was Ryan, an Aussie from the first boat going up. As luck would have it, Ryan and I would be working side by side at many locks all week long. The guys going down were something less than efficient so it took forever to get them out.  The next problem was that the wind was blowing the boats against the left bank (our right) and the Aussies had a hell of a time getting into the lock.  Next, the Brits approached the same shore to let their guy off but I told him to just stay on and we'd handle his lines.  My motives were entirely selfish; had I not done that, they’d have gotten into the same mess as the Aussies and would STILL be trying to get into that lock.  Earl, of course, knows what he is doing and had stayed well back out of the fray and entered without any problem at all.
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Canal de la Robine
Canal de la Robine
Canal de la Robine
Canal de la Robine
Narbonne
photo by: jhwelsch