Monday the 21st of July we cruised from Chauny to Compiègne. It took us 5 and ¾ of an hour, 4 locks included, to complete this. In the past we’ve twice shown you pictures of the same spot. Another possibility is a short video from the opposite side. Here it is.
The next day we left Compiègne 10 minutes after 10AM, after having visited the well-known chandlery S.A.R.L. Max Guerdin et Fils to buy a siphon. Although it’s a simple thing (is it?) it cost us € 22,57. Anything is better, though, than being forced to pour gasoil from a jerry can into the diesel-tank manually. That does splatter, however careful one executes the job. Saint-Leu-d'Esserent was our destination –water, electricity- and reached after 5,5 hours, 4 locks descending on the way. The pontoon at Saint-Leu is not very well maintained nor all that long. A small cruiser was moored exactly in the middle, creating (too) short spaces for us. We asked the man politely to move a bit for- or backward. He refused, reason being his tv-signal would be obstructed by the trees if he did. We felt he lied, because the south, where the satellites are, was unobstructed (the trees were on the west/south-west-side) and an analogue antenna does not care about trees – or does it??? It became clear the next day what the real reason was. A friend arrived and could take the space behind him – where we’d have liked him to go or be there ourselves. Grrrr! The friend’s boat is just visible on this colourful picture.
To wipe out stories of boaters never doing any serious job, here’s the prove of the contrary. Being at Saint-Leu-d'Esserent we did a lot of serious cleaning and polishing. It’s hard to start it but always very rewarding when looking at the result. We cleaned, whiped, dried and polished the entire Wednesday, were exhausted, had a drink and went to bed.
Thursday the 24th of July we left Saint-Leu-d'Esserent to tackle two locks that day and bridge the distance to L’Isle-Adam, where we planned to pick up some friends the next day. Departure time was 8:10AM and we entered the first lock, Boran, 9:49AM. After the process of descending we started the engine full of joy and optimism, only to discover that the engine and/or gearbox did hardly to not respond… (Sh.. what about or friends, arriving from The Netherlands?? Why now??) We were obviously forced to moor immediately, see the picture, and ask the lock keeper for his permission to stay there. The friendly lock keeper saw that we did not obstruct anything and assured us that we could stay there as long as necessary. A skipper of a large passing commercial barge gave us the name and telephone number of an engineering company.
Boran, as all locks on the river Oise, is a double lock. One ‘petite’ (still some 125 meters!) the other one ‘grande’. We are dwarfed by a large commercial barge, just leaving ‘la grande écluse. Back to the ‘engineer-story’ now. That same Thursday-afternoon we contacted the engineering company several times and spoke to a spokeswoman as well as an engineer. Not for the first time we experienced serious problems, when having a conversation by telephone in French, when the other party speaks at TGV-speed, without realizing that he’s talking to a foreigner. It was, however, clear in the end that he’d visit us the next day and solve the problem.
This is what happens when a large commercial leaves ‘la petite écluse’ – the one on ‘our’ side. It’s sometimes really impressive. One of the (Freychinet-)commercials even offered us, by mouth of the lock keeper, to tow us to a repair-company. Bless them! The engineer –we’ll never forget him!- called us again late that Thursday-evening. The only thing we understood of his gibberish was that he’d show up the next day. Well, yes please, but we already knew that.
The view downstream of L’écluse Boran is absolutely priceless, as this picture shows. We went to bed that night, and had a good night sleep. After all an engineer was coming the next day and would hopefully solve our problem. The man indeed showed up Friday morning, inspected the gearbox-cable as well as the accelerator-cable and declared the one dead (‘mort’) and the other seriously ill (‘malade’) – or the other way around. He explained that he’d order the parts and that he needed another day. We agreed about his return the next morning and hoped for the best.
Sometimes a sort of little miracle happens. We were visited by a swan-couple and their eight(!) cygnets. We’ve never seen that much offspring as far as swans are involved. The engineer now, again. That night, Saturday 2:30AM (honest!) the engineer called us once more, seemingly to inform us about starting the job right then. Seriously!!! He caused a pretty serious shock, after all what does one expect when called 2:30 in the morning? The only thing we could think of was to reconfirm him doing the job the next morning. Not a lot of sleep after that, we can assure you! At 4:30 in the morning(!) he called again and suggested to start the job. Obviously it was still dark. By this time we had concluded that not all the wires in his upper part are connected correctly. So we flatly refused to co-operate and made clear that the lock would open at 6:00AM. There would be day-light as well as a lock keeper at that time, were our considerations. Just to avoid unpleasant surprises we got dressed. Rightfully so, as the man (we will keep his name to ourselves) showed up 5:30AM, telling us that the gate was open, that every lock keeper knows him and that he is a very busy man… He carried two new cables with him, inspected them and concluded that one of the two was a wrong one. Help! To cut a long story short, fortunately we had a spare of the right length (6 meters) and he did the job. A considerable amount of money is now replaced by a unique experience…
Our friends left The Netherlands on the Friday, as agreed, and took a hotel in L’Isle-Adam for one night – all of us hoping that only one day of delay would be the ‘damage’. That proved to be the right decision. We were able to leave L’écluse Boran on Saturday the 26th of July at 10:15AM, descended one lock and reached L’Isle-Adam around noon. Here we arrive, pictured by our friends. Sighs of relief all over the place!
The small floating pontoon at L’Isle-Adam was occupied, forcing us to use a landing stage designed for the public touring boat. Two metal fences were closed, so we had to climb over them. The female part of the couple has already safely stepped on board; the male part almost.
That same Saturday we continued our journey, now accompanied by our friends, and arrived at Pontoise 2:00PM. It’s the same story again: we have showed pictures of the Pontoise-stopover before. But our friend helped us, by making a picture at night.
Sunday the 27th of July we took the train to Auvers-sur-Oise where Vincent van Gogh passed away and was buried. We have shown pictures of this before, so this time you can see how Auvers-sur-Oise welcomes its visitors already at the train station.
When leaving Auvers-sur-Oise later that day we had to wait a pretty long time for the train. That was too much for half of our party – the males. They slept while waiting for the train. It was hot, tiring and all that. They are not in their twenties any longer, poor guys…
Summer-dancing in Pontoise
To end this week in a cheerful way here's some dancing in Pontoise, in front of our boat.