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Old 08-28-2016, 11:00 PM   #121
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In a previous I mentioned a small town just outside Adelaide in Australia, to set the record straight the name of the town is Hahndorf.
Another very pretty town on the Moselle is Berkastel but sadly we couldn't stop there as the only moorings were for the big hotel ships and we definitely were not welcome to moor there, there are very few moorings for private boats which is a shame.
In the past the hotel ships and camping cars were sufficient to keep the tourist industry booming but the recession in Europe has slashed the number of passengers for the hotel ships and many barely had a third of their compliment.
Some farmers have found that a park for camping cars is more profitable for less work than farming and we saw one park stretched for over a kilometre.
Someone had discovered an old Roman galley during excavations, the original is being preserved in a museum but a group of people built a 10 man replica, the rudder you see was called by the Vikings a stuersboard steering board ,this over time became starboard. Sailing ships when entering port turned their masts fore and aft to facilitate loading/unloading on the easiest side due to their rigging and this became known as the port side.
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Old 08-28-2016, 11:07 PM   #122
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In a previous post I mentioned a small 'German style' town just outside Adelaide in Australia, to set the record straight the name of the town is Hahndorf.
Another very pretty town on the Moselle is Berkastel, sadly we couldn't stop there as the only moorings were for the hotel ships and we definitely weren't welcome there, there are very few moorings for private boats and if they put in private boat moorings it would encourage people to visit.
In the past the hotel ships were sufficient to keep the tourist industry here booming but the recession in Europe has slashed the number of passengers for the hotel ships and many barely had a third of their compliment.
Some farmers found that a park for camping cars is more profitable for less work than farming, we saw one park that stretched for over a kilometre.
Someone had discovered an old Roman galley during excavations, the original is being preserved in a museum but a group of people built a 20 oar superb replica, the rudder you see was called by the Vikings a stuersboard steering board ,this over time became starboard. Sailing ships when entering port turned their masts fore and aft to facilitate loading/unloading on the easiest side due to their rigging and this became known as the port side.
Leaving the Moselle valley still on the river Moselle on an early misty morning we headed for Luxembourg.
The pilot book indicated we could refill with diesel just over the border, fuel in Luxembourg is much cheaper than in France or Germany and we could make considerable savings refuelling our boats.
Unfortunately the pilot book was wrong and there was no riverside fuelling station, a quick trip into a local town shocked Evelyne as the food prices were 30% higher than France or Germany.
We made a tactical withdrawal back into Germany where we turned up the river Saar.
The through route to France had been closed for a few years for a lock to be rebuilt but now the canal had been reopened.
Don't worry I'll show you a map of our route when we exit Germany.


Photo's.
1, This working barge has come all the way from Antwerp to a factory or port up river from here.
2,The land is not so steep and becomes more forested as we exit the valley.
3,Day trippers and in the evening they run evening dance cruises.
4,Roman 20 oar galley lovingly rebuilt.
5, Early morning misty departure for Luxembourg.
6, An early cantilever crane for unloading barges.
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Old 08-29-2016, 12:04 AM   #123
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The river Saar is a typical ria (flooded valley) although very spectacular it was a bit repetitive with the exception of these two 'viewing towers'.
Personally I think they are a bloody eyesore and can't see how any architect could design such monstrosity's and claim them to be harmonious to the surroundings.
Saarbrucken is the last German town on the river Saar and famous for it's large steelworks which stretch for over 2 kilometres along the river bank, the area was once famous for coal too.
The German logistics industry wanted a large gauge waterway for the Rhine barges to service the steel and coal industry but politicians became involved !
Procrastination and obstruction are politicians tools and by the time they frigged around and the work started the coal mines had shut and the steel works made other arrangements !
For us selfish rascals though it was good news and we finally crossed the border into France.
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Old 08-29-2016, 12:09 AM   #124
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Our route from Holland through Germany to France.
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Old 08-30-2016, 02:08 AM   #125
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Apologies for a previous problem with the upload, we were in a poor Wi-Fi reception area and it didn't seem to upload the photo's, so fool me posted it again, as we're still on the move we continue to wrestle with the vagaries of the digital world.


As we leave Germany behind and enter France we had a bit of a shock, the German canals are geared for commerce and spotlessly clean.
The first section in France was dirty with lots of weed growth and seemed tiny by comparison to the German system.
The centre of the canal actually forms the border between France and Germany for about 10 km until it reaches Saarguemines, a town famous for it's ceramics.


Many of the place names in this region are Germanic sounding, this region was once German territory from 1872 until 1914 and many names were changed and German customs adopted.
Many names relate to the valley of the river Saar.
The Saar canal was originally built to transport coal from Saarbrucken to Mulhouse and called the Canal des Houlliers de la Saar ( Sarre collieries canal).
The region is known as the Alsace and the Alsatian shepherd dog was originally bred as a sheep dog and to guard them against wolves.
Naturally enough the people from here are also called Alsatians.
The canal mania that swept Europe in the early 1800's led to many 'experts' digging canals of different dimensions as local politics and rivalries dictated.
This led to a lot of confusion and unnecessary transhipment of cargo's until a French minister of transport, Mr Charles Freycinet dictated that the locks would all be 40 metres long by 6 metres wide which meant that barges able to carry 350 tonnes and traverse the whole system in France.
The canals are known as the Freycinet gauge, some larger canals in busy regions have been built and these are called 'Grand Gabarit' gauge (Large capacity).


The photo's are
1, Old Lockkeepers cottage at no 28 lock.
2, Entrance lodge to a great mansion (chateau).
3, Beauty comes in many forms.
4, 'Snow Mouse', we had scorching weather on this part of our journey, our German made Bimini gives welcome shade as Evelyne prepares our evening meal.
5, This is an old 39 metre barge that a gentleman has painstakingly turned into a replica of the cruise ship 'Harmony of the Sea's and it's for sale if you're interested.
6, Build date on a lock wall.
7,This is one of the first metal aqueducts ever built in France, lighter and cheaper than stone it was built in sections in Paris and assembled in a nearby field, once built it was pulled into place by 50 men using wooden rollers.
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Old 08-30-2016, 03:49 AM   #126
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Great story and pics, whetting my appetite for a hotel cruise boat river trip, maybe next year, maybe Amsterdam to Budapest. France Germany and Austria are incredibly beautiful in summer. Thanks, keep`em coming.
BTW, we overnighted at pretty Bernkastel-Kues several years ago while driving from France back to Frankfurt, and enjoyed a 3 hour river ferry cruise.
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Old 08-30-2016, 12:00 PM   #127
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G'day Bruce.
I'm pleased you enjoy the posts, the Amsterdam Budapest would be some trip ! We've had a fabulous trip so far.
The poor old Visa took a hammering in Cochem and my wine cellar (bilges) are full to the brim.
I think 'Snow Mouse' is sitting down about 3 inches lower in the water now.
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Old 08-30-2016, 02:07 PM   #128
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Irish-down 3 inches should not be too bad, isn't wine lighter than water? I'll add my thanks, looks like an amazing trip and it is fun to follow along vicariously!
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Old 08-31-2016, 01:46 AM   #129
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THD, ever since the Southern parts of the Rhine were in wine growing country.
We took the opportunity to stock up and lay down a few as we passed through Germany, were now in France which has the largest vineyard in the world with 35 million hectares. German wine is hard to get in France so we're doing our best to give them all wee turn.


Is anyone reading this post, or know of anyone, who's a military collector ?
A D-Day museum is closing in Normandy and there's an auction coming up, it has an Abrams tank, a D8 caterpillar dozer, A Willys jeep and many artefacts and uniforms for sale, if anyone's interested drop me a line on TF and I'll put you in touch.
I don't know the date but will find it and pass it on if required.
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Old 08-31-2016, 02:14 AM   #130
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As we progressed into France thankfully the canals became cleaner.


Since we left the Rhine river we've been slowly 'climbing' up through a series of locks on the Eastern side of the continental divide until we reach the summit at approximately 2,000 metres above sea level.
Reaching the summit level, 'pound' in English, 'Bieff' in French, we then turned in a Southerly direction at Gondrexange to go and visit another great piece of engineering.
First we had to pass through two tunnels, one at 475 metres and the second Niderviller tunnel at 2,306 metres long, after being in the scorching sun all day we quickly felt the cold, going through the tunnels was a cooling experience !
The only problem was that although it was lit, some of the lamps needed new filaments which meant momentarily losing our night vision as we were intermittently going from light to dark patches.
A bit disorientating.
The tunnel is controlled by traffic lights and boats pass in convoys.
1 kilometre before the tunnel is what they call a' technical bar', basically if you can pass under it with no problems you can enter the tunnel.


First photo,
1,Hire boat, the two guys had brushes to fend off the walls.
2,Tunnel entrance, train uses a parallel tunnel.
3,Not the best photo but it gives you an idea.
4, Our cruising partners Pat & Geri on 'Cool Running's' getting back in the sun again.
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Old 08-31-2016, 02:29 AM   #131
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Very weird to think about cruising at 2,000 meters above sea level, then add going through a tunnel! Definitely not your average cruising experience!
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Old 08-31-2016, 10:20 PM   #132
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Very true THD, it seemed like a good idea at the planning stage and in the interests of a harmonious marriage I thought before we embarked on the project it was best not to mention how many locks were involved !
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Old 08-31-2016, 10:56 PM   #133
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Arzvillier inclined plane


Since we left the Rhine valley we've been climbing up over the continental divide by a series of locks, having reached the plateau, as THD mentioned, it was a bit weird to pass through tunnels.
So having got up on the plateau how do we get down again ? a different solution was used at each end of the summit pound.
The summit canal was built to join the Marne river to the Rhine river and is known as the Marne au Rhin canal.
As you saw on our journey through Belgium in earlier posts we used an inclined plane at Ronquerres, that one went down 'in line' with the slope.


The transversal inclined plane at Arzvillier, France had been closed for nearly 2 years due to an accident when the darn thing set off with a boat half way into it, fortunately no one was hurt and it jammed up the mechanism.
With a new set of 'fail safes' and an overhaul it has since reopened and is now working perfectly, it takes 20 minutes actual transit time from the boat entering and the gates close, safety checks completed, transit down the incline and the gate reopening to allow boats to exit.
The upper pound is in fact part of the Moselle valley, (the river Moselle has it's source in the Vosges mountains in France).
Originally a staircase of 17 locks were built but it took so long and caused such a bottleneck that a new solution had to be found and construction started on the inclined plane in 1964 and completed in 1968, it stands 44.54 metres high, 44.65 metres long. the caisson weighs 850 tonnes and the counterbalance weights are also 850 tonnes and it's driven by electric motors.
We took 'Snow Mouse' down for the experience and after a short wait came back up again.
A mural on a nearby wall depicts the early days of canals when the unpowered barges were used, bargees sometimes pulled them themselves with a special harness, then horses were used and for quite a while small electric tugs were used which ran on a narrow gauge beside the canal, with the coming of the diesel the electric tugs were phased out.
Because of the long shape of the diesel tugs they were nicknamed , ants( fourmi).
It wasn't long before the old unpowered barges were replaced by these new fangled diesel engine self propelled barges.


Photo's.
1, Caisson at the bottom of the plane.
2, 850 tonnes counterbalance weight.
3, Hydraulically powered safety hook.
4,Guilliotine gate at the caisson exit.
5,'Snow Mouse' in the caisson with a trip boat.
6,Caisson en route.
7,Machine room with winch drums,
8,Wall mural depicting barge haulage.
9,Safety notice,
10,Entrance to the old flight of 17 locks that the inclined plane bypassed.
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Old 08-31-2016, 11:53 PM   #134
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I must cruise those canals one day! I have a cruising guide from some years back when I almost bought an old barge. I checked Freycinet dimensions as the ones quoted a few posts above seemed to be round figures and wrong. Here is the accurate version:

The Freycinet gauge (French: gabarit Freycinet) is a standard governing the dimensions of the locks of some canals, put in place as a result of a law passed during the tenure of Charles de Freycinet as minister of public works of France, dating from 5 August 1879. The law required the size of lock chambers to be increased to a length of 39 metres (128 ft), a width of 5.2 metres (17 ft) and a minimum water depth of 2.2 metres (7 ft 3 in), thus allowing 300 to 350 tonne barges to pass through.

Consequently, boats and barges, such as the péniche, built to the Freycinet gauge could not exceed 38.5 metres (126 ft) in length, 5.05 metres (16.6 ft) in breadth and a draught of 1.8 metres (5 ft 11 in). Bridges and other structures built across the canals are required to provide 3.7 metres (12 ft) of clearance.[
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Old 09-04-2016, 02:45 PM   #135
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Hi Insequent,
I can only tell you what we experienced as sometimes printed facts differ slightly from practicalities, in practice the locks are 40 metres by 6metres and accept 39.5 metre x 5 metre barges with fenders, the minimum water depth varies today from 1.5 to 2 metres.
Bridges vary in height, the lowest are on the canal du Nivernais at 2.8 to 3 metres depending on the time of year. The lowest on the canal du Midi is 3.2 metres over 6 foot width in the arch.
Amazingly after 2 centuries use non of the lock walls we have seen are bulging.
There are lots of antipodeans who own boats here and by swapping summers and they live for 6 months here and 6 months down under. So buy one and enjoy the life.
So far we've only seen 3 other 'Irish' boats in France and one of them 'Connemara' was UK registered.
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Old 09-04-2016, 09:55 PM   #136
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Insequent, you brought up a very good point about buying a barge, many people have the idea of buying a barge when they retire and renovating it to cruise as we are doing now.
I don't wish to be a doomsday merchant, there are plenty of those around already but one must have a practical approach to life.
One reason we didn't buy one is because it wouldn't have been safe or practical to do last years adventure which I wouldn't have missed.
The other reason we didn't buy one is although I'm handy with the hands you, and your wife, need to be in the best of health, a shot blaster, engineer, plumber, electrician, painter(it takes 45 gallons just to do the hull) mechanic, carpenter, cabinet maker have very deep pockets and a angel of a wife that doesn't mind living in a building site for 3/4 years.
Unless daddy was a millionaire it would be prohibitive to employ professionals to do the work.
The first thing when thinking of buying is to have a full NDT hull AND mechanical survey, all barges in their working life were loaded to the maximum and would drag their bottoms along the canals at some stage and that wears the bottom plates thin so NDT as part of the survey is a must because a bottom replate is very expensive and the insurance company's don't differentiate between a leisure or working barge. Despite Charles Freycinet's laws the canal have been allowed to silt up over the years and it's very unlikely that they will be ever cleaned in my or your lifetime.
You can buy 'projects' where people have usually run out of money, they start off doing a good job but as money gets tight the quality goes down.
There are barges that have been beautifully converted but as always you must be very careful as they could be all fur coat and no knickers !
A friend of mine wouldn't listen to experienced advice and bought one from a Swedish couple, it was wonderfully finished both inside and outside. Him and his wife fell in love with it and bought with the heart not with the wallet.
He was an accountant with a very large company and is not, or at least he wasn't, a poor man and now finds the upkeep both in moorings, time and cost very heavy and is besieged with problems both mechanical and electrical. His wife is sick of it and wants rid of it so now it's only a matter of time, he still has to remedy all the faults to sell it.
Another problem is finance, be very careful where you put your money in Europe, France is in recession, their taxes are high and banks are tighter than a nun's knickers, with your money ! I have practical experience where we sold a villa and put the money in the bank as you would, and because we were spending some in other country's they closed the account for no reason and we had to fight to get it released so please beware.
Having said all that there is a barge association that you can join and get all the details you need about barges, it's called The Dutch Barge Association and they print a magazine called The Blue Flag.
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Old 09-08-2016, 10:41 PM   #137
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Having taken a short diversion to have a play on a 'big boys toy' at Arzvillier it was time for us to retrace our steps back to the junction with the Sarre canal and then continue straight on to the other end of the canal summit.
To begin our descent off the plateau instead of an inclined plane we used the Richecourt shaft lock at 16 metres deep, it replaced a flight of 6 locks and has the honour of being the highest lock in France at 2,023 metres above sea level.
At the lock we were given a remote control and it was explained to us that the North East area of canals had all been mechanized and become self operated.


Apologies, I've uploaded photo's but they disappeared into the ether somewhere. When I get a better Wi Fi connection I'll try again for you.
The only recurring problem we've had on this adventure is the very poor Wi-Fi connections while 'roaming' it's been a real eye opener and some areas don't even have a phone signal, I feel very sorry for the local people.
I simply couldn't justify the cost of an all singing dancing system on top of the trip outlay with no return so if you'll please bear with me.
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Old 09-08-2016, 11:39 PM   #138
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No apologies necessary.

I've found your travelogue wonderful, with and with out pictures. Please keep up the updates coming!
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Old 09-09-2016, 11:11 PM   #139
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Thank you MRRiley. I like to help to show others who may never get the opportunity, and encourage who have.
I guess I'm the determined type who just quit until I finally beat the Gremlins !


Photo's.


1, Remote control for operating locks in the North Eastern section of France.


2. These control levers are recessed into the side of the lock wall.
Once you enter the lock you moor up and wait 45 seconds.
When the blue light flashes to indicate it's ready to continue, you lift the Blue bar approx. 3 inches until a bell/hooter rings, then release it.
(The Red bar is an emergency stop/alarm)
The lock filling/emptying cycle will continue, once the gates are fully open/closed you leave the lock slowly.
If you don't use the correct procedure the lock cycle stops and then you have to go to the small cabin to use an interphone to call the roaming lock keeper to reset the system.


3, We are just passing from the region called Alsace into the region called Lorraine.
This is the 'Cross of Lorraine' and is better known as the shoulder flash worn by the Free French Forces in WW2.
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Irish Rambler is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 09-09-2016, 11:18 PM   #140
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City: Brisbane River
Country: Australia
Vessel Name: Insequent
Vessel Model: Ocean Alexander 50 Mk I
Join Date: Mar 2012
Posts: 975
Good to get some feedback from someone actually cruising the canals, including another post noting poor phone service in parts.

One of the barges I looked at about 4 years ago was very close to the Freycinet limits, at about 36m LOA. Interestingly, the owner commented that it was the beam and not the length that he struggled with the most. I guess you need to be able to line up exactly right when entering a lock if you are close the max beam.

At one point I considered a new build taken to sail-away stage. Leaving me to do all the interior fitout. But it would have taken a long time to do. You are right about needing good surveys and not 'falling in love' with the boat. But I'm sure there are barges in good condition if you are patient in your search. I suspect my own canal experience will end up being on a charter rather than buying a boat.


Quote:
Originally Posted by Irish Rambler View Post
Hi Insequent,
I can only tell you what we experienced as sometimes printed facts differ slightly from practicalities, in practice the locks are 40 metres by 6metres and accept 39.5 metre x 5 metre barges with fenders, the minimum water depth varies today from 1.5 to 2 metres.
Bridges vary in height, the lowest are on the canal du Nivernais at 2.8 to 3 metres depending on the time of year. The lowest on the canal du Midi is 3.2 metres over 6 foot width in the arch.
Amazingly after 2 centuries use non of the lock walls we have seen are bulging.
There are lots of antipodeans who own boats here and by swapping summers and they live for 6 months here and 6 months down under. So buy one and enjoy the life.
So far we've only seen 3 other 'Irish' boats in France and one of them 'Connemara' was UK registered.
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