Four locks from the bottom of the Arzviller Inclined Plane, at the base of the wooded valley floor, is the small town of Lutzelbourg. A bit French and a bit Germanic, Lutzelbourg is a romantic postcard of the Alsace. The scene along the canal near the town is straight out of a hire boat company brochure.
Indeed, Lutzelbourg is in the heart of hire boat territory. Locaboat operates a base in the commune. Other companies have bases not far away. Lutzelbourg caters to water travelers of all sorts from the largest of hotel barges down to the smallest of hire boats. It has long serviced quay. Indeed, we figure that Lutzelbourg has the most barge-friendly serviced moorings that we saw all of our 2015 season.
Lutzelbourg has just enough services to support the passing boaters. There are a couple of restaurants and a small weekly market. There’s plenty to see and do in the area. Bicycling and hiking are very popular. With a bit of effort, it is possible to hike from the canal to the ruins of a medieval castle that sits on the top of the hill overlooking the town. It is the type of place that just invites you to add on extra days to your stay.
Not that we had a lot of extra time. We had more concerns on board Wanderlust. Water was now coming into our salon bilge storage from the stern on both the starboard and port sides. We ran an additional series of tests, turning on every faucet and drain possible. During the season we spent untold hours doing just this type of thing—running endless experiments to determine the source of Wanderlust’s under floor floods. This time, like the many other times, the results of the tests were negative; the water we ran did not seem to go into the bilge either in the salon storage area or in the hole that the builder had earlier unceremoniously cut in the floor of our guest room closet. Where was this water coming from?
Once again we evoked our favorite theory on the source of the water. Maybe the liquid already in the bilge from the April under floor flood got sloshed around, this time as we moved down the Arzviller Inclined Plane. The water was already in the bilge, it just had moved around for mysterious and unexplainable reasons.
But as usual there were problems with this theory. We kept taking liters of water out of the bilge either out of the hole in the closet at the stern and from both sides of the bilge storage in the salon. If we had thought carefully, we would have realized that all this water that we were seeing in late August could not possibly be from the April flood. It just wasn’t possible that there could be that much water left in the bilge in April. And it was very unlikely that water that was being sloshed about in the bilge would appear in both the salon bilge and in the hole in the guestroom closet at the same time. It defied the laws of physics.
Despite the facts, we desperately wanted to believe that our two-year-old boat didn’t have another plumbing leak. Our hopes were overcoming the logical reality. After all Wanderlust, since her launch two years prior in 2013, had eight leaks into the forward bilge, not counting several repeat-leaks after unsuccessful repairs. (And that number doesn’t count the numerous additional leaks in the engine compartment.) Why would we even pause to think that we didn’t have another leak?
The latest round of bilge water was forcing the inevitable; we’d need to contact Wanderlust’s builder with yet news of another potential manufacturing fault. At the very least we needed to get information about how Wanderlust was plumbed so we could arrange for repairs on our own. The promise of another tedious and trying interaction with the increasingly resistant and antagonistic builder had been pushing us deeper into the leak denial.
And denial, as it often is, was the easy path. With denial we could forget about the pending invasive and damaging repairs to the under floor plumbing. We could escape the thought of another painful interaction with the builder. Living in denial meant we could enjoy our spectacular surroundings as we intended when Wanderlust was built. Denial is a wonderful thing, at least until reality sets in.
(Wanderlust traveled 20 kilometers and 4 locks from PK 239 to Lutzelbourg. She stayed in Lutzelbourg for two nights starting on the 21st of August 2015 and for one additional night on the 31st of August and the way back through.)