Tom Fenton and Faith Ressmeyer
Sun 12 Oct 2014 18:31
I wish I could remember why I recognise the name Joinville. Any suggestions?
I did not think this would be an ambitious target, when the VNF people tracked me down at a lock yesterday afternoon and asked me where I would be last night and tonight. They really are amazing, the way they keep tabs on you. I haven't seen one of them today. But it is Sunday, and I don't begrudge their day off one bit. I set off from Froncles this morning, after paying €3 for the night. The facilities were clean and good. If I had realised I might have had a shower, but this business of only opening after 9 and closing at 6 is maddening. Those are the hours one wants (I want) to be on the move. Daylight is becoming at a premium.
This "halte" like others, is now doing more business with camper vans than with boats. I spoke to an Englishman this morning, from one of the vans. He was on his own. His wife was home with the dogs, he said. He was not travelling ambitiously, but he seemed to particularly enjoy this part of the world. He completely understood the different in our situations. He could roll up, park and plug in. No mooring lines, no fenders, no rafting up.
Today has been too wet for birds, but yesterday, I should have recorded, I saw a Greater Spotted Woodpecker, and Goldfinches. And the say before, I think, I saw a coypu, not my favourite animal but worth a mention.
I was heading for a quay with an Inn close by, and a grate write up in the Guide. A cooked lunch, thought. As I arrived, it started to rain. I changed into my Sunday best, I mean my only clean jeans and shirt, and set off for the Auberge. It was shut. Very shut. As I returned to the boat, the anglers, who had been very interested in my quest, asked, "Closed?" Yes, I said. "Ah, Dimanche." Yes, indeed, it is Sunday, and like England in the Fifties, Sunday in rural France seems to be dreary, wet, and dull.
I had bread and cheese, and a glass of wine (well, it is Sunday) and carried on in the now steady downpour. It looked as if it would last all day and night. I stopped caring. Joinville, I had promised yesterday, and it was beginning to look as if Joinville would be a good choice. Especially when I entered Lock 44 (I think) just before the town. Some locks have been choked with reeds and plants that have recently been cut at the water's edge. But this one was completely stuffed with water weed, so much that as we descended it rose in great clumps because there was no longer enough water to float in.
As I knew would happen, as soon as it was time to leave the lock, the prop was tangled in weed. To make matters worse, the stern line got caught in some faulty ironwork on the quay above. I wad a long way from the ladder and on the wrong side for it anyway. However, deft pressure at adroit angles freed the line, and even though we were at revs that should have produced 5 knots, we did manage to make 2 knots with whatever was fouling the propeller.
And so I arrived at the Joinville quay. Not quite the heaven I had hoped for. Indeed the electricity arrangements are clearly really for camper vans (they are based in the van park with a small offshoot on the quay) and the credit card payment arrangements had me completely stumped.
Before sunset the rain stopped, and I risked a walk into town, encourage by local walkers who spoke of a Pizzeria. It took some time to find, and when I arrived I was the only customer, and feared I would be all evening. But as it has turned out, the place is popular, and doing reasonably good business. So I will stop trying to trying to spend enough to justify them staying open for me. The pizza was okay, say a 7 if Alghero was a 10 (that was specially for Faith who established the benchmark), but the dessert was exceptional, if heavy on the Calvados. Tomorrow should be clear with possible sunny spells. Just as well as all my sailing gear is soaking wet.
There is a Lidl within 200 metres (yards) of the boat, and a bakery opposite. So I should get off to a fair start tomorrow, and hope to make better progress,though I know I have to spend half a day soon doing an oil change.
Bon nuit, and please notice the last remnants of the flambé beside the ice cream bowl.