Good bye Toul

Trust us to set off during a heat wave! After complaining about the cool and changeable weather, there, as if waiting for us to set sail, was blue skies, sunshine and above 30 degrees C.

So after great last days in Toul, Fran’s army supply pot of delicious Taco-soup, delivery of our second half of cushions and our new French bank card, we cut the umbilical cord to our new home marina and headed towards the first lock.

There was waving from across the pontoon, sighs of relief, photos taken by David and Ondra - all just to make sure and document, that we were actually leaving. Bill from the “Blauwvinger” even followed us over to the lock and helped us with the ropes, just to make extra certain that the Robinson's “pick on Bill" bantering would be a thing of the past.

After six month “on terra firma” there is always some trepidation entering the first locks: have we forgotten how to throw the ropes, how to get in and out, where to place the fenders… By lock 3 you feel like old sea dogs - and that’s usually when something can go wrong! But alas! We are old sea dogs - the wrinkles on our faces match the scratches on our boat.

Cruising west along the Canal de la Marne au Rhin, we were relieved to find that we didn’t have to collapse windows to fit through the Foug Tunnel, which, by the way, was the only 850m stretch of the day with bearable temperature.

Suffice to say, that there was no need for make-up. My usual beetroot head went well with my lime green shorts and top.

A little dehydrated, we entered La Meuse, heading north towards the mooring at Pagny sur Meuse. Damn! All the spots had been taken by smarter, better organised Belgians, Dutch and French boats. But Austin managed a 180 turn and we found a beautiful spot just a couple of hundred metres back on a secured canal bank.

Finally sitting on the deck under the shade of a tree cooling down, we got some very sad news: Our friend and captain extra-ordinair, Angus, has sailed off to bluer waters. We will miss him greatly.

After a quiet night, the next day promised to get even hotter. With our electronic lock button in hand - or as the éclusier called it “Liberté", we were indeed “free" to open the next 5 locks at our ease and made it to Commercy by lunchtime.

Now, I said many times that I would never swim in a canal, but today I made an exception. 

Being the only ones on the new pontoon we were in the cool and clean water before we knew it.

It was heaven! At least until Austin decided to kill two flies with one stone. Hanging onto ropes and fenders, he started to scrub off the barnacles which had settled on the hull during the winter.

© Austin Robinson 2019