Settling Onto the Saone

  Thursday, May 28, 2015 / Stephanie / Sailing  

Motoring upstream on the Saone River, settling into a new pace was a bit of a challenge from our usual get-up-and-go-non-stop travel routine.  The Saone was certainly not holding us back; the opposing current was now only 0.5-1 knots. But there were suddenly so many small towns in which to stop!  We had the joy of moving "quickly" at 6-knots yet the opportunity to explore numerous small towns along the way.  (The speed limit in some sections is 12kph/6.5-knots, which means if we are feeling really dangerous, wanting to really exert our engine, we can actually speed in a sailboat!) Each town looks so inviting!  Many have a well-maintained pontoon, often free of charge.  So we set out from Lyon, not really knowing yet how to relax, and not really knowing why the Confluence shuttle was towing a giant rubber ducky but wishing we could tackle it and go tubing!An old lock to starboard as we pass beneath the bridge to 'round Ile Barbe, gives us some perspective of just how much the Saone River has evolved. During the Middle Ages, Ile Barbe housed an Abby, the ruins of which are free for the curious wanderer.  I've been told there is also a very "la-tee-da" fancy restaurant on the island as well, reservations to be made months in advance! Not to unwind too quickly, our first lock of the Saone keeps us on our toes!  Locking through the Ecluse Couzon we worked the lines up stationary bollards.  We kept to our breast line and stern line mooring strategy, but had to quickly and accurately move each line above to the next bollard as the water filled the lock and the boat's height rose.  And the water filled the lock FAST!  The Saone locks are 185m long, 12m wide.  We followed the advice of our friends from M/Y Lyra and moored toward the the back of the lock which helps to protect us from turbulence created from water rushing in at the front of the lock.   The town of Trevoux had a fabulous Halte Fluviale managed by the Kanopee Village campground.  We stopped here, just 16.7nm from Lyon.  No sooner had we raised our Ocean Cruising Club (OCC) burgee, that very same day our dock lines were caught by OCC members aboard a lovely peniche, Merlot.  We were very fortunate to have just enough space (and by just enough space I mean the antenna extending from the top of the mast tapped the back railing of the peniche which we docked behind); our fellow OCC'er eyed up the space from the dock side while we eyed it from the water and both assured one another there was room.  Brian did an excellent job of sliding parallel into the space and we secured Detour.  Later that evening the last remaining space on the pontoon was filled by a German sailboat.  This time, however, our fellow OCC'er got out his tape measure when asked by the captain of the sailboat whether or not there was enough room. "Oh, sure!" I exclaimed to this new acquaintance of ours, "You get a tape measure out for these guys, but when we came into our space you just eyed it up for us."  Our fellow OCC'er calmly replied, "Well, these are Germans, bit more particular."  In fact, the space was not large enough for the incoming sailboat and as it was just in front of Merlot, Brian and I assisted in walking back the peniche to make room before catching the Germans' dock lines.  We learned that evening that observing the flags of vessels will certainly let you know the best method to welcome a new neighbor!   We walked the town of Trevoux, following an informative tourist trail.  After a look inside the church, a walk up the hill to the fort (closed that day), and having selected a baguette and bottle of wine to accompany our supper, our venture was complete.  First little town, check!  The following morning we crossed the Saone and ran a 5-mile loop along a shaded farm road; we've been taking advantage of river trails and bike paths for running and biking as the weather has been fabulous and the daylight extends until past 9:00pm, so we've plenty of time for a bit of exercise to work off the good French eats!  After a run, shower, and leisurely breakfast we set out upstream.  There would be no locks for us today, just an easy 13nm to the next pontoon at Belleville.