Tuesday, 26 June 2012

17th - 23rd June

Fillet steak, tastes even better than it looks!
A great week, a mixture of Australians, English and Americans. Further guests were Liane's parents, who joined us for most of the week - following along in their campervan.

Dan's food is fantastic, he even seems to be mastering French baking with fantastic gougéres. Not bad for an Australian. More food pictures available on our Facebook or Photogallery pages

10th - 16th June

Francisco this week gave the time to teach almost all passengers how to steer the boat. All discovering that he makes it look easy - really it's incredibly difficult. Barges don't stick straight! Especially in a narrow canal, there is also a delay in response time and a lot of turns are required of the wheel to turn the boat, eventually most got the hang of it. I have also applied for my pilots license, which takes a lot of practise and numerous exams to aquire... watch this space!

Tuesday, 19 June 2012

3rd - 9th June

Luciole cruises up the canal, with the River Yonne flowing on our port side

This week we had a lovely charter group on board.  Bill and Ginnie the leaders had cruised on Luciole 20 years ago.  Its always wonderful to have passengers back on board.

The Nivernais canal has 114 locks and is 108 miles long, and was built to link the Loire and Yonne valleys and was once used to float timber to Paris and then later transport gravel/stone. As commercial use slowed down in the mid-1960s the canal was saved by the arrival of the pleasure industry, first the hotel barges and now the hire boats, all enjoying this beautiful stretch of water. 

After nearly 40 years on the canal, the Nivernais has become Luciole's home, and the barge has become part of Nivernais history. My parents still know a number of the lock keepers from before I was born! The joy of our canal is that it really does feel like you are stepping back in time and for a short while, enjoying life in the slow lane.

Sunday, 17 June 2012

27th May - 2nd June

Luciole powers up the river
June already? Time is going quickly! This week a group from Key-West Florida, we seem to have a following on that island; friends of the gentleman who put me on youtube using the boom - took over the boat and they brought the weather with them.

Being halfway through the cruise route and stuck at Mailly la Chateau for the weekend due the high water levels last week - it was decided to cruise from Mailly la Chateau to Auxerre in on the Monday and then spend the next 4 days cruising to Clamecy. One issue of the water levels meant we were unable to pass lowest bridge in Mailly la Ville, the boss of the canal was called and a dam was lowered - we were able to pass through 10 minutes later. Somehow we managed to do it all in one day, this in memory has never been done on the Luciole. Arriving the last lock at 5 minutes before the locks shut, every lock had been a race with the chef and girls helping us all along. Great team effort!

Unfortunately we never made it into the port of Clamecy as a sandbank had built up bellow the lock and on the river. A tractor was required to pull us off and we fell just 100m short of our final destination!

An eventful week, barging is never boring!

Sunday, 3 June 2012

20th - 26th May

The Luciole sits bellow Mailly le Chateau

A big storm hit Tuesday and the river levels rose. Cruising to Auxerre we were unable to make it under the Mailly La Ville bridge so a day trip to Beaune was organised and a visit around the very impressive Hotel Dieu (Hospice de Beaune) - a hospital for the poor founded in 1443, a great step back in time and architecturally very beautiful. I joined along for the trip and the drive down was gorgeous, a very different area of Burgundy to our Northern part, predominantly covered in vineyards..... it was lovely to get back to our Nivernais Canal though, I have to say.

Fortunately we were stopped on a section of canal and Francisco offered piloting lessons in the evening. The sun really came out for the last few days of the week and it was really hot, passengers took the time to explore on foot and bike.

13th - 19th May

A week off! The crew made full use of the time to recover. Chef Dan and Liane travelled to the Alsace in Eastern France, hostess Alex spent some time with Family and I briefly travelled back to England to see my girlfriend.

The river was given the chance to die down a bit and some welding was done to the back of the boat including an exhaust chimney, plus the usual bit of painting here and there. Hot weather also seems to be arriving hopefully it will stick around this time.