Our early start was slightly curtailed by a very heavy mist in the morning.
Consequently, I was able to drag Cy into town for the breakfast bakery run as he had missed out seeing it the night before. Once we were back and breakfasted, the fog had lifted enough to get going. We headed straight into a chain of locks all activated by a pull cord by the first lock. Somehow or other, this failed to activate. Maybe my pulling technique was a bit below par? Anyway, as usual, a decent chap from the VNF was on hand to sort us out. We had a lovely chat and it was interesting to hear his take on how the VNF is changing as an organisation with part privatisation and reduced staffing levels.
Cy noticed a problem with our port engine, Pat, during the course of the day. Every now and then, the revs would drop, although it did seem to improve later in the day. We had a mid afternoon provisions stop by a supermarket and petrol station. By now, it was getting later in the day and we were unsure whether to push on for Strasbourg or not. We were only an hour or so away, but I had read several reports of difficulties finding moorings in Strasbourg so didn’t fancy arriving late in the day. We went through the small town of Souffelweyersheim at around 17:30 and noticed a lovely little harbour area, which we thought may be a good place for the evening. We had a bit of a faff and decided to go through the next lock and see how the area looked. This took us into Strasbourg suburbs and mooring options were not looking so pleasant so we turned around and went back through the lock. Secretly I was quite pleased about this as I had realised a day or two earlier that we wouldn’t be going up in any more French locks until our return journey next year, so it was nice to get one last go! On further exploration, the mooring area looked really good, with electricity and water, but they were charging 11 Euros per night. We motored a few hundred metres along the canal and tied up using our mooring stakes instead.
We decided to re-invest the money we had saved. Our lack of refrigeration facilities meant we had to consume in one sitting. Shame.
We didn’t get off too early the following morning due to fuzzy heads, but it wasn’t far to Strasbourg and we arrived at a nice marina berth just before lunchtime. The route in took us directly past the European Parliament building.
As usual, boat chores come first. For me, this was vacuuming (only possible when we have shore-based electric), cleaning and laundry. I’ve mentioned before, that most of our laundry is done by hand, but the bed linen is definitely a launderette job. I left Cy fettling with the engines – the problem with Pat seemed to still be a live issue. The marina had an onsite boat yard with chandlery supplies but was closed as it was a Sunday. The need to get both engines fully operational before going onto the river Rhine was paramount, and consequently we decided to spend two nights at the marina. Also, our very dear friend, Helen-Marie made a last minute decision to head to Strasbourg to meet us for a few days. Once we were a bit more sorted and up to date on various jobs, we headed into town for a bit of a look. We didn’t really know what to expect, but it is a very visitor-friendly city, with small winding canals, picturesque bridges and beautiful mediaeval buildings.
Restaurants abounded, but loads of people were out with their own picnics enjoying the sun and chilling. We were due to meet Helen-Marie at the station at around 10pm, so we had a leisurely beer and a low cost dining option (kebab shop) first.
The three of us then headed through the city and back to Doris for a spot of wine and cheese to round off the evening.
Monday 22nd May – our last day in France! It was another sweltering day. Helen-Marie and I were able to spend some time exploring the city (after we had done a fuel run in the morning), while we left Cy fixing the engine problem.
The chandlery was able to help with a few bits and pieces that were required and by late afternoon, everything was sorted. It transpired that the secondary fuel filter was blocked with a gel-like substance. Apparently, this sometimes happens when using road diesel as the bio-fuel content is higher than that of marine diesel.
So, our journey across France from Calais to Strasbourg had taken us 31 days, through 252 locks and covered a distance of 776 kilometres. Just one lock left out of Strasbourg and then we shall be on the Rhine….