Chevroches, Canal du Nivernais

Sunday, 18 March 2012

Making Plans

Autumn in Melbourne is beautiful*; sunny days without the searing heat of summer, evenings still balmy enough to relax outside with a glass of wine and nights cool enough to enjoy a good sleep. Also it's time to look forward to this year's adventures in Europe. Those of you who have been regular readers of the blog (thank you so much to all of you!) will know that we are not great planners. Decisions are often made at the last minute, sometimes on the toss of a coin. There are advantages and disadvantages to this rather haphazard approach. It's relaxed; time can be taken, minds changed and changed again- although some may regard this as time wasted and dithering. The major drawback is, possibly, that if you don't plan thoroughly you miss stuff. I have spent quite a bit of time over the past months reading and enjoying other boaters' blogs and finding out about all the chateaux, museums and great restaurants we've managed to miss along the way, the markets we could have visited and festivals we could have enjoyed if only we'd taken the time to research and plan. Ah well,  hopefully with our lackadaisical approach we're less likely to succumb to stress induced heart attacks and there will always another day.

There are some things that require no particular pondering over and they have been done. Flights are booked for the beginning of May, a visit to Scotland arranged, our vignette (navigation fee) paid and insurance renewed. An ever lengthening list has been made of jobs at home that need to be completed before we depart (now if that's not planning I don't know what is). The best part of list making is the flourish of thick black marker as you score off the items - certain people have even been known to add already completed tasks just for this simple pleasure.

Last year we ordered a lot of navigation charts online but as our present mooring at St Jean de Losne has 2 good chandleries on hand we haven't pre-purchased any this time. St Jean is at the junction of several waterways of course, so at some point a decision has to be agreed on (or a coin tossed) about which route to take. Plenty of time for that.

I've noticed many people on their blogs give an end of season summary of the distance cruised and number of locks worked so I've managed to waste a few hours working that out. Some even calculate the number of bottles of wine consumed but perhaps that's better not thought about!

So, for 2011
  • km cruised 1,246
  • locks 574 

Should you be thinking, 'that's not very far for 4 months - I drive more in a week,' please take into consideration that our normal cruising speed (on the canals that is- rivers are quicker depending on current) is not much faster than walking pace. Bikes (on the tow path of course) regularly leave us well behind and we've even been outdone in the speed stakes by children riding with trainer wheels. Then there are the locks. At best, it takes 15-20 minutes to work through one but should there be a wait for any reason (and believe me, there are many, many reasons) it could take hours. We might decide to stay in one place for a couple of days or a week and when we do move we never get going very early. What's the hurry?

*Insert the word 'usually'. It's never a good idea to wax lyrical about the weather. Since I wrote this black clouds have swept in bringing rain and hail storms and even snow in the mountains. Gales have uprooted trees which need to be cleared up, some chopped for firewood the rest stacked on the increasing number of bonfires dotted around our property. So, that jobs list is getting longer...