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Old 05-21-2014, 12:26 PM   #21
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I've a brother who cruises the canals in England in a 60' narrow boat he fitted out himself, he's a mechanical engineer and swapped skills with a cabinet maker who was also fitting out his boat.
Different style of canals but taking it easy and chilling out is the name of the game.
Wxx3 the river from Bordeaux is tidal and you must time your arrival for the lock opening times, it's not allowed to moor in the river, once you enter the canal a lateral a Garonne with your air draft you should make Castets en Dorthe with care.
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Old 05-21-2014, 10:42 PM   #22
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...I had always hoped to be able to do the French Canals, but it seems the air draft of my KK42 at 4.2 meters is too high.
Hi Wxx3-

My 3.2 meters guideline was to be able to hit everywhere in France except the middle of the Midi and the southern Nivernais. If you cross off other canal/river sections, you can go with a higher air draft. So poke around, but I suspect you will find some canal/river sections that will accommodate 4.2m. Can't guarantee it, but I'm suspicious that there are some opportunities.

Try Googling "EuroCanals Guides". They sell country cruising guides for about $20 (US) each. The guides are quite detailed, with a listing of each waterway, the controlling depth, air draft, dimensions and number of locks, etc. Very useful for planning a cruise. You'll still need nav charts, but these at least talk about the various waterways, ports, and facilities. Disclaimer: I have no relation to, nor have never met, the seller of these guides. But I've found them useful over the years.

And Irish Rambler is correct about Bordeaux, the tides and currents in and around the Garonne river are pretty substantial. We stopped just short of the river on our westward cruise on the Garonne canal. Not a voyage to be taken lightly.

However, if you find yourself in the Med, take full advantage of the French coastline between Port-la-Nouvelle and Marseille. There are some really beautiful villages all along that stretch (Sete, Narbonne, and Aigues-Mortes come to mind).

There are probably some options for cruising in northern France too, up near Belgium, and don't forget Brittany - there's a canal that connects Nantes to Dinan/St Malo. Not sure of the air draft requirements, but definitely something to look into.

Finally, I'm pretty sure you can get to Paris from the English Channel, there are enormous cargo boats that ply the Seine in that area. Also look into the Marne and Moselle Rivers, which have big cargo boats and should be able to accommodate your air draft.

Attached pic is our boat passing under the low bridge on the southern Nivernais - and our air draft is 2.7 meters.

Happy cruising!
-Kent
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Old 05-21-2014, 11:17 PM   #23
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I hope I'm not flogging this thread too much but if you write a letter or email to Promotie Binenvart Vlanderen, Armand Hertzstraat, 3500 HASSELT, BELGIUM in English they will send you an overall map of the European waterways then you can check out your proposed individual route. The limitations on the canal du Midi for anyone transiting from the Bay of Biscay to the Med are 35 metres long, 1 metre draft and an air draught of 3.5 metres over a width of 2.5 metres, the lowest bridge on the route is at Capestang.
Someone mentioned the use of mooring spikes in an earlier post, we've found the most effective type to be lengths of 1'' rebar with capping screws, (reinforcing bar with a very large screw on wing nut & washer) these are used in concrete construction, they have a very coarse thread on the outside and when sharpened to a rough point hammered into the canal bank, the thread anchors firmly in as it 'grips' the soil, the wing nut screw is then tightened down to the soil preventing leverage. Once you are ready to move they are easy to withdraw as they simply screw out of the canal bank.
I hope you find this helpful.
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Old 05-21-2014, 11:50 PM   #24
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Old 05-22-2014, 01:03 AM   #25
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Locks on different bodies of water are interesting in how different they are. Contrast the enormous locks on the Tennessee River with those on the French Canals or even the Erie Canal. 50 to 100 miles between, raising or lowering 30-100 ft.

422 locks transited per season is a staggering number. But then thats part of the uniqueness of the canals. In fact, that's why they are canals. Space the locks differently, size them differently and you have lakes and rivers, lots of land underwater, and nothing as unique as you have now.
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Old 05-22-2014, 01:17 AM   #26
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We did the Canal du Nivernais in 2008 in a LocaBoat "tupperware" rental. 129 (very easy) locks in 2 weeks from Joigny to Dom St Pierre. A most wonderful and relaxing vacation we intend to repeat with friends next year.
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Old 05-23-2014, 10:03 AM   #27
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We did the Canal du Nivernais in 2008 in a LocaBoat "tupperware" rental. 129 (very easy) locks in 2 weeks from Joigny to Dom St Pierre. A most wonderful and relaxing vacation we intend to repeat with friends next year.
Thanks for some of those photos from your trip.
Brian

What time of the year were most (all) of those taken??
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Old 05-23-2014, 10:38 AM   #28
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Originally Posted by Irish Rambler View Post
I hope I'm not flogging this thread too much but if you write a letter or email to Promotie Binenvart Vlanderen, Armand Hertzstraat, 3500 HASSELT, BELGIUM in English they will send you an overall map of the European waterways then you can check out your proposed individual route. The limitations on the canal du Midi for anyone transiting from the Bay of Biscay to the Med are 35 metres long, 1 metre draft and an air draught of 3.5 metres over a width of 2.5 metres, the lowest bridge on the route is at Capestang.
Someone mentioned the use of mooring spikes in an earlier post, we've found the most effective type to be lengths of 1'' rebar with capping screws, (reinforcing bar with a very large screw on wing nut & washer) these are used in concrete construction, they have a very coarse thread on the outside and when sharpened to a rough point hammered into the canal bank, the thread anchors firmly in as it 'grips' the soil, the wing nut screw is then tightened down to the soil preventing leverage. Once you are ready to move they are easy to withdraw as they simply screw out of the canal bank.
I hope you find this helpful.
Thank you.

I do have the French Canal Cruising Guide.

This site is great, thank you

Webtracking

I have also seen a very large map of all the canals of Europe, I will try to get that also.
Looks like I will spend the winter planning
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Old 05-23-2014, 12:11 PM   #29
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Thanks for some of those photos from your trip.
Brian

What time of the year were most (all) of those taken??
First 2 weeks of September. We had a mix of weather, mostly dry but a couple of days with occasional heavy showers.
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Old 05-23-2014, 03:30 PM   #30
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Thank you.

I do have the French Canal Cruising Guide.

This site is great, thank you

Webtracking

I have also seen a very large map of all the canals of Europe, I will try to get that also.
Looks like I will spend the winter planning
If you have a lock fetish and are looking for something completely different, check out the Falkirk Wheel in Scottland, another really fun canal cruising venue.

However the food in the Loire Valley… the wine… or up the Rhone...only done it on the asphalt slough as we used to say out on the CA Delta, would love to do a canal/River trip sometime.
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Old 05-23-2014, 04:03 PM   #31
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LocaBoat has a good PDF brochure at http://www.locaboat.com/images/pdf/C...AT_2014_EN.pdf . Their home site is also worth a browse at Locaboat, european river cruises and canal boat hire . There are more details there on the routes, boats and prices.

There are other companies for rentals, but this was the one we used and found very satisfactory for the quality of service and the fleet. The others are probably fine too.
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Old 05-23-2014, 04:10 PM   #32
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LocaBoat has a good PDF brochure at http://www.locaboat.com/images/pdf/C...AT_2014_EN.pdf . Their home site is also worth a browse at Locaboat, european river cruises and canal boat hire . There are more details there on the routes, boats and prices.

There are other companies for rentals, but this was the one we used and found very satisfactory for the quality of service and the fleet. The others are probably fine too.
That's the one used by many others we've read about to and they've been pleased with the service.
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Old 06-03-2014, 07:58 PM   #33
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422 locks transited per season is a staggering number. But then thats part of the uniqueness of the canals. In fact, that's why they are canals. Space the locks differently, size them differently and you have lakes and rivers, lots of land underwater, and nothing as unique as you have now.
It really is amazing the number of locks in France. The bulk of them are between 2 and 3 meters vertical drop, and are of the "Freycinet" gauge, named after the minister of public works in France who in the late 19th century decreed that locks would be standardized to 39 meters long by 5.2 meters wide. So now of course there are numerous cargo barges who measure 38.5 x 5.1 meters.

Our biggest single day was 33 locks, on the stretch heading north from the summit pound of the Burgundy Canal down the hill towards Montbard from Pouilly-en-Auxois. The locks in this section are spaced every few hundred meters. But most days of travel we average between 5 and 10 locks in 3-4 hrs of cruising.
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Old 06-04-2014, 03:17 AM   #34
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Apres Ski, sounds like most of those locks are too narrow to take more than one boat at a time..?
In the UK, they virtually all are wide enough for two narrowboats, (~ 7' wide by memory), to fit into the locks side by side with about 2 feet between and a foot from the wall.
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Old 06-04-2014, 04:19 PM   #35
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Apres Ski, sounds like most of those locks are too narrow to take more than one boat at a time..?
The "regular" boats are limited to single-file, yes, but the lockkeepers will put two to three 10-13 meter boats into a single 39 meter lock. And we've seen them definitely put two English-style narrowboats side-by-side.

In general, other than the high tourist areas (Canal du Midi) and northern Nivernais), we've almost never had to wait for a full lock cycle - ie., there never seem to be more than one or two boats waiting. The low tourist areas might only have 5-10 boats a day pass a given lock, even in high season.

Cheers
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Old 06-05-2014, 03:16 AM   #36
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I notice on the Locaboat site they indicate the average cruising per day between 4 and 5 1/2 hours on various tours. It gives the impression that the norm is to cruise every day and not take days off to explore. Basically get most of a day in each location. What has been your experience?

I ask this because the typical cruiser in the US cruising canals or on the Great Loop will only cruise on average every other day and some every third day. Now as ports of interest may be further apart then will often have long cruising days of 8 to 10 hours. So the average may not be that far off the Locaboat numbers.

I will also say the prices appear to be quite reasonable.
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Old 06-05-2014, 12:53 PM   #37
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I notice on the Locaboat site they indicate the average cruising per day between 4 and 5 1/2 hours on various tours. It gives the impression that the norm is to cruise every day and not take days off to explore. Basically get most of a day in each location. What has been your experience?
Hi BandB-

Excellent questions. For most canal cruise itineraries, the charter company will list both the number of cruising hours and the number of locks on your cruise. We have found these numbers to be very accurate, especially the ones from LeBoat.

For France in the summer, it stays light until well past 9:30pm, so your usable "day" is quite long. How long you stay in a particular port depends on what is there, and in many cases, for small towns or villages, a couple hours walking around and maybe a short bike ride is sufficient.

In our case, on our three charters before we bought our boat, we typically signed up for cruises in the 22-28 hrs per week range. We also didn't want to sign up for more than about 45 locks in a week.

Now that we own a boat, we average 17.5 hrs cruising per week, and typically move the boat 4-5 days per week. So we're operating in the spirit of 3.5-4.5 hrs per day, and staying put for a few days a week.

I would recommend that if your itinerary involves bigger cities (Dijon, Toulouse, Strasbourg, Auxerre, Chalon-sur-Saone, Epernay, etc.), you will definitely want to spend at least two - if not three - nights in each of those locations. For smaller towns like Clamecy (Nivernais), Digoin (Centre/Loire), Montargis (Loing), one or at most two nights is fine.

And apologies to anyone who takes offense at a crass commercial message, but my wife wrote the "Practical guide for European Canal Boat Charters" which will answer a lot of questions about rental cruising. The book is available in either eBook ($7.99) or paperback ($14.99) at FrenchPressUSA.com. Hopefully I didn't offend anyone by posting this link

And your final question about how far apart the ports are, we find that we often stop one or more times a day while we're cruising, either to see something interesting (old church, chateau), or to grab a baguette, or to stop in a street market. It has been our experience that there are very few places where you will cruise for 4+ hours without seeing something of interest to go visit.

Cheers!
-Kent
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Old 06-05-2014, 08:16 PM   #38
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Thanks Kent,

Your info and link are quite helpful.

For those like myself with taller boats (air draft greater than 3.5 meters, I found "Cruising the Canals & Rivers of France" really helpful in broadly planning what rivers i can get up or not, e.g. i can go 81 km up river from Bordeaux.
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Old 08-11-2014, 12:34 AM   #39
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For anyone interested in the canal between the Atlantic at Bordeaux to Sete in the Mediterranean. I also have to confess to crass commercialism.
If you search for the book on Amazon 'How To Cruise Between Two Sea's it's an account of an informal and informative cruise.
Different folks take a different view of a cruising area, what suits one family may well not suit another depending on likes/dislikes and it's nice to have a broad picture for a full comparison.
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Old 08-11-2014, 01:06 AM   #40
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In the UK, they virtually all are wide enough for two narrowboats, (~ 7' wide by memory), to fit into the locks side by side with about 2 feet between and a foot from the wall.
In the UK almost all the locks are single wide, 74' x 7.' Only a very few canals have double-wide locks, the Grand Union from near London to Birmingham and the Leeds & Liverpool in the north being the two most well known. The double-wide locks were introduced toward the end of the canal building period to allow a narrowboat pair (lead and towed boat) to be taken through together instead of separately, thus saving some time. But outside of these two canals and a few short stretches of some other canals, the English canal system uses single-wide locks.

The rivers, however, use wider locks.

A narrowboat is about 6' 10" wide or thereabouts. I took this photo while descending a series of locks on the Shropshire Union Canal.
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