Up the Yonne ... yo ho ho and a barrel of wine

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October 31st 2010
Published: October 31st 2010EDIT THIS ENTRY

The River Yonne
We left our barge mooring at Avon early on Sunday morning, determined to get through as many locks as possible and onto the River Yonne. We passed St Mammes, which seemed to be in Festival mode - loads of huge péniches were decorated with bunting and flags and rows of stalls and stands were set up on the quayside. It was all very pretty! A little further on there was a strange miniature circus set up by the river - coloured tents, a truck but no sign of any people or animals - god knows what it was, we went closer to try to find out but had no luck!
Within 3 hours we had gone through the last two big Seine locks smoothly and joined the River Yonne. Our pilot guides had all warned about the difficulty of navigating these locks with their unusual v-shape so we decided the best plan of action was to drop me off at the bank, radio in hand, to go ahead to each lock on foot and take the ropes Mike would throw. As we neared the first lock I climbed up to the side of the boat, hand held VHF tuned to channel 8 to communicate with Mike, and looked out for somewhere to jump off. As we got closer we saw that there was a boat in the lock already headed downstream. We pulled in to the waiting stage on the bank and I jumped off with a rope to hold us there. Whilst Mike rearranged the fenders I walked up to the lock to check out the best way to come in. “Goober 1, this is Goober 2, come in” I said into the Radio. No reply. I tried again. This time I got a response. “Goober 2, this is Goober 1.” “Hello Goober 1. We have a V-lock, no pontoons, bollards are all on the starboard side. Over.” “Thanks Goob. See you soon.” I watched the boat descend in the lock then let the lockeeper know I was with the boat waiting outside the lock to ascend. I also had the camera with me so got a few shots as Ozzy entered. Once inside, Mike threw me the ropes so I could hold the boat steady then poled off the side as we ascended so that we didn't hit the sloping sides. The first lock went smoothly, but did rely on some muscles from me to hold the boat in place against the current from the water coming in. Nothing the guns couldn't cope with though! We celebrated by cracking open our big keg of red wine, and it was steadily imbibed throughout the afternoon.
We did six more locks that day and by the time we left the last one we were getting pretty good at it (or maybe it just seemed that way because of the red wine haze that had filtered over us, either way we were very chilled, happy and competent in the locks!) We had had some strange looks as we communicated over the VHF radios, but I reckon it was just people in awe of our cleverness in utilising the hand held in order to give information to the boat! The Yonne was a lot narrower and greener that the Seine - we spent more time passing through woodland and fields than towns and cities. It seems that not all boat users can handle a boat well though, and we soon passed the wreck of one that had mounted the bank. “Carly, have you been trying to park boats?” said Mike with a grin. “What?” I asked, having not spotted the boat. “There look, that barge looks like you tried to park it.” “Cheeky!” I said and gave him a friendly slap. It was quite a good little quip though. My boat skills are not the best.
After coming through a lock at 6pm we started looking out for a place to stop. According to our pilot guide there were moorings just in front of a castle somewhere around the area we were in. I kept a look out and could see no castle, just the odd big old house. We soon came to realise however, that our guide book author had used the English translation of château and we had in fact passed the moorings. For anyone who doesn't know, a château in France is the equivalent of a stately home in England, not the old turreted stone edifice most Brits think of when we hear the word castle. “Oh well,” Mike said “We'll just stop somewhere else.” I checked the book. “Baby, there isn't anywhere before the next lock, and that will be closed now, they close at half 6 on Sundays.” “We'll just find a spot on the bank then,” came the reply. I was quite happy with this, we hadn't tied up to a bank since the obese Frenchman in the white shirt had come to investigate us back before Paris, and this area was beautifully still and quiet so I knew we'd get a good nights sleep.
We soon found a spot between the trees and got ourselves settled in for the night. I cooked dinner, we drank a lot of wine, then tried to watch 'Old School' on DVD. We were both cracked up laughing at it, until it froze and kept refusing to play. I took the disc out and saw a big scratch on it. I put it back in and went to scene selection, playing the scene after the one interrupted by the scratch. It played fine. “we'll just have to skip that scene,” I said, sitting back down and topping up the wines. “I reckon I can buff out the scratch,” said Mike. “Really? How?” “I've got some really fine sandpaper, it would buff it out easily.” “It won't just make it worse?” I replied “No,” came Mikes self-assured response “It's so fine, it will just get rid of the scratch.” So he ejected the disc and went to get his super fine buffing sandpaper. It turns out his assurance that it would work was totally unfounded. Once he'd 'buffed' the disc I heard “oops” and he started giggling. “This sandpaper's not quite as fine as I thought,” he said. “what have you done?” I asked “I think I might have made it worse,” “Let me see,” I said. He wouldn't. He popped it into the disc drive. “Let's see if it will play.” It didn't. I took it out and looked at the back. It was one big mass of scratches. “Mike! What have you done!” “I don't know why I thought that would work to be honest, I think it's probably too much wine.” he said with a grin. “So, you're telling me that instead of having a film with one scene we have to skip over, we now have a totally useless DVD because you tried to sand out a scratch?” “Pretty much.” I threw the disc away, got 'Anchorman' out instead and poured more wine. Bloody numpty husband.
After a good sleep in absolute quiet, we awoke fairly early to go to the next lock. It turns out we had moored just around the corner from it and were the first boat there. However, we had to wait for a commercial barge to arrive that was also going through and we ended up exiting at five to ten, a full hour after we'd arrived! This lock was very easy though - there was a pontoon in it that floated up with the water level , so all we had to do was tie to the pontoon and chill with our cups of tea whilst it did all the work. One more lock and one hour later, passing through the picture postcard town of Pont Sur Yonne, we arrived at the gorgeous town of Sens with the afternoon sun beaming down. Another beautiful leg on the Peas tour of France had been completed.

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