Even though we went to bed under clear skies, it was raining heavily by early morning. It had let up somewhat, but was still raining steadily by the time we got underway about 9:30 AM. We have reached the mid-point of our journey and now we are making our way back to Digoin. We are planning on varying where we stay to try to catch some towns that were closed on the first half of our trip. There had been a changing-of-the-guards overnight and none of the lock-keepers that we met yesterday were stationed at the same locks today. For the first time, we piloted the boat from the inside station. We quickly discovered that the boat tracked considerably better when steered from the inside. For some reason, when steering with the big outside wheel, the boat tends to fish-tail and over-correct. The disadvantage of using the inside controls is that the visibility is more restricted, though.
By the time we reached the five-lock staircase at Chavance it had stopped raining. We made it through the third of five locks at 11:56 AM. This meant we now had to stop in a fairly large pound and wait out the lunch hour. Fortuitously, there happens to be a restaurant/bar precisely at this location. I am sure that many a boat gets caught in this five-lock ” lunch hour net” coming or going. We walked into the rather small interior portion of the rather small restaurant and asked to be seated. The proprietor told us that he had a reservation for 12 people who were coming by car for lunch, so we would have to sit outside. This was no problem, as the outside was covered by a large canopy and the temperature was pleasant.
We asked if we could get a sandwich and were told that we couldn’t. So we settled for a one liter bottle of white wine and a double order of pommes frites (French fries). Not exactly the healthiest of meals, but what-the-heck – we’re on vacation. We also ordered a carafe d’eau (pitcher of water) and the owner/waiter obliged. But he followed the convention that we had observed at several other restaurants wherein no water glasses were provided. In fact, the first time this happened to us we had specifically asked for water glasses and the waitress told us to just use our wine glasses. This time we did not even bother to ask. We each drank one glass of wine, followed by a glass of water in the same glass, then more wine and more water. Rich commented that we should start doing this same thing on the boat to keep the dish washing (mens’ duty) to a minimum.
We arrived in Châtillon-en-Bazois about 4:00 PM and it resumed raining just as we moored the boat alongside the grass bank of the marina. As this is a Canalous base, all the slips with power and water hookups were taken, but two boats were being readied for departure, so we asked one of the Canalous employees if he could back our boat into one of the rather narrow slips for us. These boats have a single shaft-driven propeller that does not move right or left like an out-drive, so backing the boats up is actually a bit tricky. Counter intuitively, the Canalous experts crank the steering wheel all the way to one side or the other, then back up while tweaking the bow thrusters. Since tomorrow is Sunday and the Canalous facility is closed and since we are going to want to refill our water tank before departing, we asked the Canalous folks to leave the water supply available for us, which they said was no problem.
After getting settled into our overnight slip, we walked to the nearby market to replenish our stores. We purchased the usual 10 bottles of wine to get us through the next few days, plus other essentials like food and water. We had a great dinner of white beans and turkey then decided to try a new game (for us) of Spades. The Davises nosed out the Lehman-Warner team, but I’m sure we’ll get even. No need for any A/C tonight either (or probably the rest of the trip), as the temperature has dropped into the cool 60′s. But hardly any bugs either!