The last leg to Toul

As the night temperatures are now shown in single figures we are gradually approaching our winter harbour, Toul. Only a couple of stops and maybe 8 more locks to go!


We were almost rocked into a "home-safe mode”  when we realised that some alertness is still required on the waterways. 

For example, on the stretch from Metz to Pont-à-Mousson we had to dodge a multitude of big logs - half tree trunks really! They could easily do damage to a prop! But slaloming through the waters we arrived intact in Pont-à-Mousson, entering a lovely harbour. The late afternoon sun lured us straight to the central plaza and to an outdoor café-bar for our apéritif of Monacos (Shandy with Grenadine).


In the meantime we heard from our friends Jan and Bill who had, to say the least, a few problems over the last few weeks. But, the good news is, that we will be seeing them in Toul after all. Good news, for us anyway!

For the last stop we chose a place called “Pompey”, nothing to do with Vesuvius: the only smoke came from the local industry. Pompey lays at the junction of Moselle and Canal de la Marne au Rhin. The towns pontoon has no services and on closer look, the town did not look very inviting.

We tied off behind a lonely, unoccupied boat and were almost immediately surrounded by a group of local Teenagers. We thought they were cheeky but harmless.


A short while later, while doing our SMH cross word, we heard a holler from downstream. A gorgeous looking narrow boat, Mathilda Rose, was coming up river and moored next to us. We met the cheerful crew: captain Graham, an obvious rugby fan competing with Austin in wearing a striped CCC rugby shirt, 2nd captain and lock specialist, Jill, a woman of many talents - flying, writing, painting etc., Dad dog,Baxter, son, Muttley and cat, Penny. With a crew like this how could you go wrong!

As the teenagers were still around and indiscreetly looking into the windows of our boats, we were a little apprehensive going out for an afternoon walk together. Graham had placed a sign on the window of the Mathilda Rose saying: "if you can read this you are being recorded by CCTV, so smile!”. - A damn good idea, I thought.

Heading towards the shopping street, we left Jill and Graham to their “beer-o’time” at the bar and decided to check on the youth again. From the bridge I thought I saw someone on our boat, so we immediately headed back.


Some of the Teens were still around when we got there and told us a 'cock and bull' story about thieves having tried to get into our boat and ‘they couldn’t call the police because they have no phones’, when I clearly had seen their phones before. Anyhow, the window lock in the back had been tampered with and the fly-window half pushed in, but that was as far as they got - nothing missing, phew! We let it go what we probably shouldn’t have. Graham had taken a photo from the group right from start and was going to show it to the gendarmes the next day.


We followed a Gîte Barge, the “Joanna”, the next morning up to Toul. We passed more logs and some foals bathing in the river. The only thing slowing us down though was a power failure in the last few locks leading to the harbour. The VNF lock-keeper had to activate them individually with a portable generator.

But we are here now and a short time after us Jan and Bill cruised in, and all is good.

© Austin Robinson 2019