Just after passing through the Écluse de Réchicourt-le-Château we pulled to the bank to take some pictures and eat lunch. The layby quay was full so moved a short distance forward to a bank mooring with stout bollards set well back on the shore. It was a tricky place to tie up. We had to maneuver close to the bank, hover, and put the boarding plank out so we could get the ropes to shore and over the bollards. It all worked out well enough, or so we thought.
After lunch it came time to start moving again. The mooring process was reversed. Ropes were pulled and the plank was lifted back on board. With a burst of throttle and a compensating blast of the bow thruster we’d move off the shore. Or so we thought.
Application of the thruster and the throttle twisted Wanderlust slightly but she remained stuck near the bank. We knew what happened immediately. Wanderlust was grounded. Stepping below we could see that we were tilted noticeably to starboard.
During lunch the water level of the summit pound of the Marne-Rhine dropped. It retrospect it should have come as a shock. The Réchicourt lock just to Wanderlust’s stern uses about 845,000 gallons of canal water on each cycle. All that water flows into the lock from the summit pound. It should not have been a big surprise that the level of the summit pound fluctuates significantly.
We’d been in this position before. After twisting Wanderlust a little with the thruster and applying a full power blast of the throttle our barge popped off the bottom and was back in the channel. No harm, no foul, as they say in basketball. Wanderlust was back on her way with no noticeable issues.
Ahead of us were two tunnels and the Saint-Louis-Arzviller inclined plane. We wouldn’t make it to Arzviller before it closed for the night so we pulled Wanderlust to the shore and tied up at a little used halte nautique along the way near “milepost” PK 239. Now it was time for dinner.
Spending a night by our selves on a rural mooring is always pleasant. We have all we need on board. The TV was on and soon dinner was ready. All we needed was a bottle of wine. I opened up the hatch in the salon to the wine storage in the bilge. Ugh. There was another flood. The water was back in the bilge.
This time the water was coming up into the cellar from the starboard side. Until this point the water we’d seen every few days had been coming up the portside of the bilge, the same side as the disconnected sewer pipe from earlier in the season. The way Wanderlust’s fuel tanks and the keel are configured, the only way for water to get from Wanderlust’s the port side of the bilge to the starboard side is through the wine cellar. Further, almost all of the plumbing connections were on the port side. So why were we now seeing water on the starboard side of the bilge?
As usual I quickly developed a theory. Unable to see into the bilge all we had were theories. I figured that the water we were seeing was a remnant of the earlier massive flood four months earlier. There was so much water from the flood in April that it came forward into the wine cellar, crossed sides of the boat, and then moved to the stern. (Wanderlust lists to starboard; fluid drains to starboard and to the stern.) The water from the earlier flood, it could be a lot, still had to be there. At least that is what I figured. And when we got stuck at the stop of the lock the tilt of the barge must have poured this reservoir of bilge water forward into the wine cellar. That was the theory. There was no new leak. We were just seeing left over water.
As usual, my theories about where the water was coming from in Wanderlust’s bilge were wrong.
(Wanderlust spent the night of August 20th 2015 on a mooring near PK 239. We had traveled 77 kilometers and 21 locks since we left Nancy two days prior.)