After a completely frustrating month and ($$$), I am back being a wandering Canuck!. I’ve left Dunkerque, where they replaced a bunch of stuff in the drive train (stern gland, main thrust bearing) , and am now, hopefully, really beginning my exploration of France. I’m on the Grand Liason canal, from Dunkerque, through to Arleaux and Pont Malin. This is a major French ‘business’ route, and there are many barges (huge) up to 2500 tonnes using this route. I try to stay out of their way. Today, for example, I was using the large (HUGE) lock called Fontinerres. I made my way in, and the lock keeper kept moving me forward. This is generally not good when going up, as the turbulence of the water entering can make things awkward and challenging in terms of keeping the boat under control. However, I was placed within 1m of a 13m concrete wall ( and expected to make sure I didn’t hit the wall when the vast torrent of water entered!). Then a wee barge of some 2500 tonnes entered after me. 15cm of clearance on each side, and ready to crush me like an eggshell if i got in the way… He was under perfect control, and I managed to avoid disaster.
Then, on to Aire Sur la Lys, which was the turn-around point for the mechanical issues. Now I am on new exploration grounds. Lots of heavy industry beside the canal: recycling, hydrocarbon stuff, and likely a metal smelter (not sure). Lots going on. I’m stopped in Givenchy for the night, looking to go on towards Douai so I can meet friends for their cruise expedition.
Arrived in Douai, and made my up the river Scarpe, to the Douai Halte. A delightful mooring almost in the city center, but getting here was interesting. The river is about 10m wide (which means i cannot turn around), and full of weed. Also not very deep- the depth sounder was howling at me most of the way. And then, i came to a low bridge, that meant I had to lower the canopy and radar arch. No big deal, except if you are facing a river current, in a narrow channel with questions as to whether you will run aground! There are times when being singlehanded provides real challenges! However, made it, with only a few scrapes on the new paint, and I’m happily moored, with water and power, awaiting the arrival of my boating companions Pat and Kerry. I am quite excited in anticipation of their arrival, and the fun in exploration ahead.