After a delay in Toul to drop off a guest and to have our plumbing leak and numerous other things fixed at Lorraine Marine, Wanderlust returned to cruise mode. It was hammer time. We needed to move fast to be able to get back to our winter mooring in Auxerre.
Between Toul and Auxerre, our winter port, there are 581 kilometers and 163 locks. Ahead of us several locks were scheduled to close for maintenance work. The first set of closures was on the lower Marne. Leaving Toul on the 19th of September we had 15 days to cover the 346 km and 123 locks or else we’d forced into much longer route. And even the longer route was far from certain. There were more lock closures ahead on the Yonne near Auxerre starting on the 17th of October. Wanderlust had to be in Auxerre by the 16th or else she’d risk spending the winter elsewhere.
The start was good. We covered 22 kilometers and 21 locks in about eight hours. It was our new record for the number of locks transited in a day. (Our old high was 17 set in 2011 on the Canal du Midi in a hire boat.) If we maintained this pace, we would easily make it past the pending closures.
But it wouldn’t be that easy. As we arrived in Ligny-en-Barrois we learned the canal ahead of us was closed due to storm damage. Downed trees were blocking the channel. As usual it was hard to get a definitive date for the reopening from the VNF. Indeed, some boat owners at Ligny were speculating that the canal would reopen in a week. If it took that long we’d have a serious problem getting to the lock closures on the Marne in time. So just in case we contacted the ever-accommodating Duncan and made tentative arrangements to the winter at Lorraine Marine for the winter if we couldn’t get through.
Fortunately the VNF cleared logjam without a long delay; we were soon on our way. Nevertheless the closure was a warning of how precarious our timing was. It reinforced the need to move as fast as possible.
(Wanderlust left Toul on the 19th of September 2015 and arrived in Ligny-en-Barrois on the 21st. She spent two nights in the Ligny.)