Up early and we left Tournus at 9:20 AM. We arrived at La Trunchere, at the mouth of the Seille River at 10:20 AM, the lock was open, the lockkeeper yelled to us to come on in, without dropping a crewmember off to see how to operate the manual lock. As we exited, we figured out why – there were four boats waiting to get in and the lockkeeper didn’t want to waste water or time.
At this point we are heading upstream instead of downstream, so the red buoys are on our left – of course, there weren’t any! The Seille is a much calmer river than the Soane and not really very developed. We cruised through much pastureland. Our first lock to operate by ourselves was at Cuisery. When we arrived the gates were closed, I jumped off the boat onto the pontoon and climbed up to the lock to reconnoiter the situation. A boat had gone through, going the same way we went and left the lock full. So I had to figure out how to let the water out of the lock: close the upstream gates, open the downstream sluice gates to let the water out to lower the level of water. Then, once the water was out of the lock, open the gates on each side to let the boat in. I waited on the side as Shoe and Carol threw the lines, looped them around the bollards, and threw them back for them to monitor, and then went to close the downstream gates. Once they were closed, I opened the upstream sluice gates to bring the water level up. But, I forgot to check the downstream sluice gates to make sure they were closed. Lesson number one. Once the situation was identified, it was easily corrected. Soon the water was up and we had to open up the upstream gates and go on our way.
We stopped at Cuisery tied up to the dock and enjoyed lunch on the upper deck in the sun. We pushed on to make Branges before dark. We arrived at Branges at 4:30 PM but the ship’s office was closed. It was supposed to be open until 5:45 PM – but I guess that is the French way. We did have a little difficulty docking, but Mike squeezed the boat into a space with only inches to spare. After all our work, we walked up to the closest bar and enjoyed a beer on the terrace in the sun. We walked around town, pretty bare of stores and necessities. We all took showers aboard and then called for a taxi to take us to Louhans for dinner.
I asked the driver for a recommendation, and she drove us to Hostellerie du Cheval Rouge, 5 rue d’Alsace, Louhans, 71500. Telephone: 03 85 75 21 42. We enjoyed a fantastic meal, attentive service, and the hotel called our taxi and we had a ride back to the port of Branges. All in all, we covered 41 kilometers and 3 locks today.
Back at the boat, we started preparing to gather our things and straighten up to leave tomorrow for our return trip to Dijon. Around midnight we heard the pitter patter of raindrops on the roof. We were glad we decided to come into the dock this evening and not wait until tomorrow morning – the day the boat is due at 9:30 AM.