Monday, 23 May 2016

Bassin Rond to Cambrai

Tuesday 17 and Wednesday 18 May 2016

13 kms, 5 locks, 3 hours

The days are almost identical; cool, overcast mornings, clearing to mostly sunny without any wind – good for cruising but still a bit chilly.

After buying croissants and a baguette from the lady in the mobile boulangerie (she arrives at about 08h00) we were on our way again.

At the first small junction exiting Bassin Rond we stuck fast in the mud loosing even steerage which probably meant that the rudders were also lodged in the goo (+1m draft, be careful). With a bit of blue smoke work and using opposing engines to turn into the new waterway, we finally popped loose and then proceeded down a beautiful, winding country canal.

At the first lock,a small one relative to those on the Liaison, Njord was issued with a control (‘telecommander’)

The control center - comms to operator on left.
for the next few locks – the trick is to know that,at the first lock you have to first activate the lock mechanism by pushing up on the blue pole which then fills the lock so that you can step off, walk to the small edifice, place your hand into what looks like a postbox and voila, you have your control.

Once you are secure in the lock press the 'bassinee' button and the lock gates will close and the lock will start filling/emptying. Once full/empty it will open automatically and when you get to the next lock start the process by pushing 'avalant' or 'montant' and then the bassinee button and carry on.. On your return you place the unit in the opposite box, push the pole and exit - we think. Or maybe just before depositing the gadget, push the u/down button, deposit and jump aboard.

Departing, going upstream - lock behind us now full.

Going downstream.
It was a most delightful cruise to Cambrai and in no time at all we were through the five locks and, at the port captain's instruction, tied up to the Armco right next to the diesel pump.

Diesel pump off the stern.

I don’t want to get into the debate about liveaboards versus voyagers BUT Cambrai is a typical example of a port where I have do have an issue. The marina is choc-a-block with permanent moorers: Njord managed to squeeze into a small space at the entrance to the marina with us opposite – not really the safest place to be. Another +/-16m boat came in, moored partially in a bit of marina space and partially in the space reserved for peche-people but left after an hour or two, probably after having been harassed by the fishing folk. Another +/-20m barge, the American flagged Libellule, also arrived, moored up against the far wall, a horrible place right adjacent to the very busy road but was told to move as this is apparently a fish breeding spot. There not being any other moorings open, they had to moor in the canal outside the marina. And all the while the liveaboards stay put, some growing another layer of moss, some abandoned, and some left for long periods of time while their owners return to their homes, mostly in England. Over winter I have no problem with long stayers but once the cruising season gets going (1 April as far as we are concerned) then they should somehow be made to move regularly so that visitors (who probably put a lot more into the local economy) can at least have a chance to enjoy the marina facilities and the city – Sian says this will be the case from 2017 but time will tell. Otherwise Cambrai will be privately marked on waterway maps as a ‘Plettenberg’ (prefab house) park equivalent, (of which there are many in this area), and simply by-passed.

Elle  extreme right, Njord almost opposite, front of Njord are permanents, then reserved fishing quay. Wall on
extreme left of pic is fish breeding ground, whole quay bottom of pic are permanents. Libellule top of pic facing locks on
After lunch, while the girls walked for miles trying to find a decent laundry (ended up at the one near the Aldi across the river from the town center), Ian and I went looking for a bricolage to buy some drill bits; there is a big one next door to the Match supermarket – walk across the railway bridge which overlooks the marina and head straight up the tree lined avenue for about a kilometre. There is also a laundry there.

Later, a Lynn dinner pasta creation washed down with a glass of wine closed off another great day and at 21h45 off to bed we went – in daylight.

The next morning we spent sightseeing,

The main square - another stunner!

Old city wall bastion.

Just another Rubens (yawn) The Entombment. Unprotected!
Created in 1616 and has been in the same church since 1793.

finding an optician to fit new cushions to my glasses, buying more wine and then joining the Carters at the port-side restaurant La Petit Chef for a very tasty veal with mushroom sauce dish. Back to the boat for a read, sorting out trivia and an earlyish night.

Oh, and another big Dutch cruiser came into port and seeing no space available, departed.

1 comment:

  1. Complements to Ian for the aerial shots. When you get some good internet, it would be cool if you could put up a "fly by" on YouTube.