As we neared the port in Dijon we moved Wanderlust into one of the last locks of the day. Looking up we noticed a “slight” problem just ahead: There was no water in the pound below the lock. Without water, Wanderlust was not going to continue wandering.
As one moves along the canals in France it is easy to believe that the water forms a continuous band from the start to finish. But is doesn’t have to be that way. Manmade canals can be drained by accident or on purpose. In this case, the VNF said that there was a leaking gate on the lock below the empty pound ahead. With minimal boat traffic on the canal, the leaky lock went unnoticed. By the time Wanderlust arrived the water in the reach had emptied completely leaving behind an unattractive and un-navigable mudflat.
On this stretch of the Canal de Bourgogne, lock keepers follow each boat and operate the locks manually. The empty pound was spotted and the keepers quickly opened the lock’s sluice gates to let water through to fill the pound. It took a surprisingly short period of time, 20 to 25 minutes, for the reach to refill. True, the pound was short, only about 300 meters long, and thus the amount of water needed was less than it would often be. Nevertheless it is impressive just how fast the pound filled. By my calculations the pound holds roughly 6,000,000 liters of water. That’s equivalent to 1,000,000 flushes of a water efficient toilet or a lifetime of residential water use by an average San Franciscan. (San Francisco’s residents are very good at conserving water.) For those keeping score, the pound was filled at the rate of approximately 1,000 flushes per second.
Once the water was added the gates opened and we were on our way again. Even after the sudden deluge of water the pound looked more or less typical, just slightly muddier than normal. Not surprisingly, the water was still on the low side. There was just 400 mm of water under Wanderlust’s skeg as we moved to the next lock. But the low water didn’t present a navigational problem. After two more locks we were soon tied up in the shade at Dijon’s attractive port.
This post is from Wanderlust’s 2016 cruising season.