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Old 10-16-2016, 02:16 PM   #221
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Nomad Willy.
you referred to the banks of the canals and I had a good search and found a photo of the canal du Robine when it was drained for work. Here parasol pines are used for shade.


Photo 1 & 2
Drained canal du Robine.


3, Plane trees line the canal du Midi, the roots anchor the banks. You can see the diseased plane trees before being cut down and burnt. They're replaced after the ground has been sterilised with a disease resistant variety.
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Old 10-16-2016, 02:34 PM   #222
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Thanks Irish,
Just as I thought. The bottom could'nt go straight down. I'll bet most boats tied to the bank are resting on the bottom with their bilge. That could be an advantage. And I'll bet many to most have a plank to disembark the boat. But boat wakes would cause moored boats to do a lot of bottom bumping.
Interesting also that the ground isn't all mud. There are many rocks exposed in your 2nd picture.
Thanks for the pics and explanations.
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Old 10-16-2016, 02:36 PM   #223
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Back to the blog.
In the previous post photo's showing the 3 way ecluse rond you may have noticed the colour of the water. As I was skippering the boat through the lock at the time I couldn't take these photo's and had to return by car some days later to take the photo's.
Meantime there'd been very heavy rain and the fine mud in suspension from 'run off' drainage colours the water.
We stopped in the old Greek port of Agde (much of the town is built of basalt stone quarried from a long since extinct volcano in the foothills behind Agde) to take some interesting photo's.
This has been a trading port for centuries and the quays you see in photo's date back to before the late JC and are still in use.

Photo's
1, The Cathedral is built entirely of black basalt stone, the river is in flood, the old stone quay dates BC.

2,Click to enlarge.

3,St Etienne Cathedral. In ancient times religious dignitaries were buried in the crypt and a section was carefully excavated and on view.

4 & 5, Tromp L'oiel, (to deceive the eye) there's not a single window in these walls !

6 & 8 Narrow streets give shade and use the wind chill factor to cool the buildings and streets.

7, The oldest profession in the world traded in this street (it wasn't bankers) and it was named accordingly.

9, There are gems of little hidden courtyards.

10, These doorways date from Grecian times, look at the height compared to today.
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Old 10-16-2016, 03:56 PM   #224
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Nomad Willy.
Strangely we've rarely had a problem or any damage, boat wash doesn't seem to be a problem either.
Yes, most boats carry a boarding plank to avoid leaping onto an uneven bank and help unload bikes etc.
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Old 10-16-2016, 07:19 PM   #225
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Continuing the blog and our visit to the old Greek town of Agde with just a few more photo's before we leave.
In a previous post you saw the colour of the water with fine particles of mud in suspension from the alluvial plain carried in the 'run off' after heavy rainfall and over centuries this has built up until the old seaport of Agde now lies 5 kilometres inland.

Photo's,
1, Quay wall once used by Greek and Roman ships is now for leisure ships.

2,The building to the right of the old sailing ship was once the customs house and ships tied directly outside the door to be inspected, the steps were used by the customs officer to get on/off the ship.

3,Some trawlers from here went to the bottom of Italy to catch tuna as they migrated and made great profit, greed set in and if they got bigger boats = bigger profits, they got an EU grant and put themselves heavily in debt with the banks and had these large trawlers built so they could make their fortune. They returned jubilant after the 1st season with a bumper catch in their new boats. The port facilities were hardly able to handle the traffic so a new fishing port was built at great cost to accommodate the new boom in fishing, after a second season everyone was ecstatic at the new found wealth.
Then disaster struck, the EU brought in a conservation policy with no forward consultation or discussions with the industry and banned them from fishing, the boats have been tied up now for over 11 years, families have gone broke and lost everything, the banks got badly caught and the EU ? couldn't care less.

4, The new fishing port at Agde.

5,This inshore fisherman still makes a living though.

6 & 7 This our friends Pat & Geri's boat Cool Running's out in the Mediterranean, Agde port exit in the background as were starting the 60 kilometre journey across the Golf du Lion.
The Gulf of Lions didn't get it's name for nothing, due to the proximity of the Pyrenees, Rhone valley and sea wind patterns it can blow up into a storm very quickly and good planning is essential for a safe passage.
I know I'm very unpopular skipper when I mention a 5 am 'cast off' but it's prudent to move early because as the land mass heats up with the sun, the heat rises and the cool air from the sea rushes in causing turbulent conditions from mid day on.
I've been overruled a couple of times by the girls and we've left a couple of hours later, the crew paid the price of a very bumpy ride towards the end of the passage..
When you say 'I told you so',,, there's just some sheepish looks..
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Old 10-16-2016, 08:34 PM   #226
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Irish, you have been very taciturn about Locaboat, have we made a mistake?

I am still reading your blog and I hope to live some of it this Spring.
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Old 10-16-2016, 09:08 PM   #227
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No problem at all.
I was discretely pointing out that Le Boat, the other major operator has some issues, (the accountants are running the fleet on a very tight financial rein and they simply won't spend money on maintenance) so I can't recommend them to a friend.
Locaboat keep a nice clean tidy fleet and you should have a very enjoyable holiday.
The rainy season here is March/April (usually about a week) in the spring and apart from the odd shower it usually stays dry until September/October (again between 3/7 days rain) the hottest month is August.
Am in the middle of resolving the book issue with Amazon & Kobo and should have it fixed shortly.
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Old 10-17-2016, 01:52 AM   #228
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Thank you Irish, I'm poised to buy your book, we will be 6 and we have rented a 50' with 4 cabins. I may make the others buy their own copy!
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Old 10-17-2016, 01:57 AM   #229
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... Aigues Mortes is where the Knights Templar departed to the Holy Land to put down the Muslim threat to Christianity.
Some doubt about the long term success of that campaign.
But, your pics are great.
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Old 10-17-2016, 04:55 AM   #230
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Hi Bruce.
I think a re-run with modern implements would be my choice !


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Those 50' would make a great liveaboard. will let you know once the books are up and running, as I type this my good lady wife is compressing them in preparation.
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Old 10-18-2016, 03:00 PM   #231
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May I extend my thanks to the TF 'management' for my promotion to Guru.
Unexpected, but gratefully received and I will endeavour to be worthy of your trust.
Thank you very much. IR
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Old 10-18-2016, 04:13 PM   #232
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May I extend my thanks to the TF 'management' for my promotion to Guru.
Unexpected, but gratefully received and I will endeavour to be worthy of your trust.
Thank you very much. IR
More than deserved, IMO.
Sincere congratulations.

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Old 10-18-2016, 05:33 PM   #233
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Nomad Willy.
Strangely we've rarely had a problem or any damage, boat wash doesn't seem to be a problem either.
Yes, most boats carry a boarding plank to avoid leaping onto an uneven bank and help unload bikes etc.
Wakes not a problem?
Wish that were the case in the US. People on the continent are just more polite. A friend after a trip to Germany said "I wouldn't belive how polite people are." We Americans are (as a whole) more selfish and don't put other peoples interests very high on the importance scale. That applies just going a bit north into Canada .... except on the road. Not that we (and Canada) don't have a lot of nice people but folks in Europe view others as more like family and less like the enemy.
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Old 10-19-2016, 01:10 AM   #234
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Nomad Willy.
In the whole of our European journey we were only ever met with kindness and consideration and never one cross word, we also made a point (as we do in Ireland) to wave/salute every vessel we pass large or small and always received a return wave from the skipper/crew unlike our sea journey around England where only 1 sailboat out of hundreds returned our salute.


Merci Beaucoup Pilou, Tres Gentile.
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Old 10-19-2016, 01:25 AM   #235
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Back on post.
Leaving behind the old Greek town of Agde we pass down the river Herault towards the sea (there are photo's as we passed the fishermen's wharf in a previous post) just 500 metres further on we stopped at a shipyard called Allermands. Here we lifted out both 'Snow Mouse' and 'Cool Running's' for maintenance checks/anti foul etc.
We can't speak highly enough of this family run business, very friendly, professional and reasonably priced compared to other yards we've used in the past.


After the work was completed we relaunched and left the Grau du Agde (Grau meaning opening/access to) to cross the Golf du Lion to Port La Nouvelle, here we entered the canal du Robine for the journey to our home port of Narbonne.

Photo's.
1, 'Cool Running's' in position ready for anti fouling. Henri Allermands designs/operates all the lifting/transporting equipment personally. His company were the first (and still do) make large fishing boats in fibreglass.

2,'Snow Mouse' about to get her hull power washed.

3,and getting put in position for anti fouling, new anodes etc.

4, This is Grau du Agde where the river Herault exits to the Mediterranean sea.

5,6 Maps showing route.

7, This is the first lock on the canal du Robine and the 376th lock we've transited since we left Dunkirk in April.
It's situated at a place called St Lucie.
St Lucie is a designated nature reserve and migrating birds come here to feed on the insects, that means mosquito's, millions of the buggers, so you must slop on the insect repellent and keep some 12% vinegar to dab on any bites to take away the itching and inflammation.
This is the season of the turning leaf in the vineyards and migrating birds feed on the dried grapes left behind by the machines as they need to build themselves up for crossing the Med to North Africa.
The sugar in these dried grapes turns to alcohol and the birds have a party ! literally, they get as pissed as a mattress and are flapping and falling over in the vineyards until they sober up enough to fly here to St Lucie for a final feeding frenzy.
As many pass through Narbonne the town sets off firecrackers to move them on because all those dried grapes gives them the skitter, god help you if you park your car under a tree, it gets covered in 2nd hand grape juice !


8,9 The canal du Robine, guess which way the predominant wind is blowing ?
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Old 10-19-2016, 06:38 AM   #236
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8,9 The canal du Robine, guess which way the predominant wind is blowing ?
Welcome back to "le pays de la Tramontane"
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Old 10-19-2016, 08:53 AM   #237
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For those people not familiar with this region the Tramontane is the predominant wind blowing from the North West along the side of the Pyrenees.
To quote Pilou 'Welcome back to the land of the Tramontane'.

I was pretty busy on VHF and with other commercial boat movements when we entered Port la Nouvelle so I searched for some relevant photo's for show you, we exit/return through here if we go to Spain. We love it here because the commercial harbour gives it life.

Photo's.
1, Port la Nouvelle beach, entrance to the port to the left of the port hand marker.

2,The beach is gently sloping fine sand and a terrific place for children to enjoy, Mum's and Dad's love it too ! commercial ships in the 'roads' waiting to unload.

3,Port la Nouvelle exports bulk cargo's of grain, cement etc.

4, Grain silo's.

5,Looking seawards down the port.

6,The local fishermen land their catch around 7am so if you want to 'catch' a bargain you need to be up bright and early.

7,No self respecting French town would be without it's weekly market where people go to shop and socialize.

8&9 Fresh melons from the local fields and cheese samples to tempt you.

10.Once you enter Port la Nouvelle you carry on up through the port until you reach the road bridge, there you turn right into the canal du Robine, the small boats you see are local boats moored in the canal.
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Old 10-19-2016, 09:27 AM   #238
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The canal du Robine has an interesting history being the oldest canal in this region being built by the Romans before BC.
Narbonne, our home port, was the 2nd largest Roman settlement outside of Rome and based on the river Aude.

A Roman nobleman called Agrippa was appointed governor to the region, he was breach born and his name is derived from his birth (Aegres Partus, Painful parting).
He ordered that the bed of the river Aude which flowed through Narbonne, and was used to power the corn mills, be excavated and a canal made down to the sea so that Roman ships could reach Narbonne both to resupply his soldiers, and export food in return.
When ships arrived at the mouth of the river Aude their masts were struck and they were then pulled up the river Aude by horses to Narbonne, naturally a small settlement was founded at the river mouth and grew over time until in 1666 the Port was substantially enlarged into a full working port.
Over centuries the river Aude has since found another route to the sea but the canal is still there and we use it regularly.
Testament to the Romans long term planning
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Old 10-21-2016, 03:50 AM   #239
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The canal du Robine is fairly shallow due to sediment in the canal that's built up since Roman times. It's generally around 1.2 metres but can vary a little as there are rice farmers beside the canal who have the ancient right to drain off water for their fields.
The fact that there's no marina at the beginning/end of the canal means there's no one to complain to the VNF, only individual boat owners and our numbers aren't great enough to make our voice heard.
It's a nice cruise taking around 3 hours from the start of the canal to Narbonne. Just after the second lock at Mandirac is a place where volunteers rebuild old wooden boats with the instructors passing on their skills to the younger generation, progress on each project is determined by the amount of money they raise.
Entering our home port of Narbonne we moored in the city centre to a very warm (and liquid) welcome from the port Captain and all our friends.

We've a Birchwood 33' which we'd left on our mooring to keep our place, and now we can put her seriously up for sale. (In TF classifieds) and Apollo duck.
Tomorrow, when our hangovers cleared we'll change places and our wonderful adventure will sadly be over, time to ring down FWE. It will also be time to get cracking writing a book of our journey and look for print options now we have all singing all dancing internet at last.

Thank you for being with us on this adventure we hope you enjoyed it as much as we did, we've tried to make it interesting, educational and above all to serve to inspire others to follow in our wake.

If you wish to look around Narbonne with background, history and photo's as a grand finale I'll gladly do it for you.

Photo's
1, The river Aude debouched into a shallow estuary and when the Roman governor Agrippa ordered the bed of the river Aude excavated to make a canal they simply piled the spoil at each side, that left shallow etang's on either side of the canal, here you can see the bank secured with wooden planking.

2,A small ridge ran alongside the river and the was enough spoil excavated to make a roadway, this has since been used for a railway line and carries the main line rail traffic to Spain.

3,Looking back seawards.

4, Just look at the beautiful lines on this sailing boat being refurbished.

5,'Snow Mouse' moored in Narbonne city centre.

6,Another shot from the bridge.

7,looking towards the city centre showing St Just Cathedral and the old Roman bridge over what was once the river Aude, now the canal du Robine.
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Old 10-21-2016, 07:36 AM   #240
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Greetings,
Mr. IR. Absolutely FANTASTIC!!!!! Thank you so much. I look forward to the success of your publication/travelogue.

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