Easter Sunday morning involved Cy anxiously looking at the computer and trying to figure out passage plans to the Seine and to Calais taking into account tide times, wind directions and the myriad of other factors that need to be considered. I ‘helped’ by disappearing off for a walk. It turns out that Saint Valery has a thriving Sunday market. It was absolutely heaving and although mainly in a town square, it extended for quite a stretch along the promenade aswell. It seemed as though the whole town was out for the experience. I purchased some bits and pieces from the fruit and veg stall and wandered back.
Cy had managed to work out rough plans for both the Seine and Calais options. We were both keen to stay on in Saint Valery until after the Easter weekend to allow us to speak to the canal authority and get a bit more definite information on the canal here. We had already been given three different dates by lock-keepers and port staff.
The rest of the day involved a few bits and pieces, nothing much really, just getting the holiday groove on!
Monday 17th April – Lidl has been found! OK, so it was closed for the bank holiday, but a major bonus nonetheless. The delay in getting into the canal system, and the subsequent extra cost of mooring fees requires savings wherever possible!
A few boats passed through the sea lock in the afternoon heading to the boatyard just the other side. We watched the process with great interest, it being our first opportunity to observe a lock in action. We were still optimistic that there may be a chance of following our preferred route.
Everything we have read suggests that it is often necessary to use mobile phones on the canal system to contact lock keepers etc, so we decided to get a local sim card. Several baffled shopkeepers later, and we had a working mobile phone with a French sim card. Success!
We also spent some time reviewing our alternative plans, and a purely pragmatic decision based on distance alone, lead us to decide that entering the canal system at Calais was plan B rather than the Seine. This being the case, the wind conditions looked favourable later in the week.
Tuesday arrived, and with it, the news that there would be no chance of getting through the canal de Somme. Disappointing, but at least the uncertainty had gone. Having a decent wifi connection at the marina here has been brilliant in allowing us to research the alternative route, and the boring stuff like banking, renewing car insurance etc. It is only the first 100km or so that will be different and whilst neither of us are very keen on going into such a busy port, particularly with the issues that Calais faces, it will at least get us on our way.
Spent the rest of the day catching up with a few chores – laundry, buying fuel, shopping and various bits of cleaning and organising. Doris feels very much like home now and cosy evenings onboard with a nice dinner and a drop of wine are a real pleasure. An evening stroll along the harbour wall opposite where Doris is moored was a nice opportunity to take a few photos.
Doris on her berth
View from the harbour wall.
With a definite plan of leaving here and heading to Calais on Thursday, today (Wednesday) has been spent doing final preparations. We have double checked all the tide times and calculations. This is crucial as you can only leave here very close to high tide – the bay is very shallow and there is only enough water to get in and out roughly 1.5 hours either side of high water. With the tide times and the desire to both leave here and arrive at Calais in daylight, a night time passage is the best option. This means leaving here tomorrow at around 1830 local time and an expected arrival into Calais at approximately 10am on Friday.
I have done the final fuel run to the supermarket with the diesel cans on a trolley – we now have full fuel tanks and 40 litres spare in cans. Laundry and shopping are all up to date, our cooking fuel supply has also been replenished and some repairs and routine maintenance have been completed. Sounds good, but I daresay we have forgotten something!
I shall finish by introducing our mascots, Bluey and Winey.
Winey is the owl, made by me and so-called because Cy threw red wine over him shortly after he had been finished. Bluey was blue once, but that was in the early 1980’s when he was given to Cy as a Christmas gift from his mum. The St Christopher he is wearing was given to us for this trip by some dear friends and has so far served us well.
Happy Easter everyone x