our Journey

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Sunday, April 29, 2012


We had many good memories of this beautiful little town, but somehow the crazy Rhone wind got in the way with spectacular results.
We left Valence early to make it to Viviers by at least midday, but, as plans are never perfect we were confronted with the unexpected.

First of all the locks.

We arrived at one, only to be held up by a huge barge that had priority, then by another that was was carrying gas (this meant we could not tuck in behind it).

As usual David took advantage of the hour to clean the boat and to try to brush off the remaining effects of wintering under a tree.

The locks are amazing. The large automated ones work like clockwork and down you go.

Looking up is awe inspiring with a slimy ladder your only escape route.

Our boat behaves beautifully. We only need to make the slightest adjustments to our ropes to keep her in line.

Once out you feel the full force of the hydro scheme as it lets the rest of the water downstream.

An hour and 2 locks later  we arrived in sight of Viviers. Then the real fun started.

Feeling fairly tired, wet, stressed and brainless, I misread the map to enter the marina. CRUNCH, the poor boat ended up on a rock unable to move with me feeling stupid. After radioing the local Sauvers Pompiers (firemen) we waited for help.

To cut a three hour long story short we waited onshore while dozens of pompiers and gendarmes milled around like M. Hulot and travelled to and from the boat in a Rib. They had no solutions. We returned to the boat to find they had tied it off to a pylon in the river.
David used the winch, tensioned and tried to tilt the boat . Eventually the winds and waves did their work and VOILA we floated free and very thankful.

The night brought 130 kmh gale force winds.

In front of the capitainerie just behind the moorings.
The thought of spending a night like that in those conditions on the top of a rock in a raging river is beyond comprehension. Below is a weather map I found for Sunday afternoon when the wind was reasonably calm.  The red arrows mean in excess of 104 km/h. We are just below the lowest, middle red arrow.

We woke after a very stormy night happy to remain in Viviers another day. We also could not refuse the roast pork tea offered by Chris and Viv in the boat next door.

Our two boats safely moored.

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