48° 43′ 33.9132” N 4° 35′ 8.682” E
Wednesday – July 8, 2016
Up early to go in and experience Vitry-le-Francois. We start with the playground at the town hall. Swings, slides and hopscotch. Simple but just what Nellie wants. As we pass the open windows of the town hall – a magnificent piece of classical mansion – we see that in several offices are typewriters. These analog, old-fashioned, mechanical appliances from the previous century. We also see computer screens. Anyway, typewriters in 2015? Sigh.
We eat croissant and drink coffee at a cafe. We buy Lego Friends, and we buy a long-sleeved shirt to protect Nellie against mosquito bites, and as a precaution also buy additional children’s patches, as they has been shown to have a strong psychological effect on itchy mosquito-bites. Especially those patches that have airplanes on them.
We break up at 2 p.m. There is pretty much wind. But we are a sailing boat, created for the roaring oceans. We say goodbye to our American neighbours and wish them good luck with their transmission shaft. In some way we sense that our own story with a broken shaft and many months of traumatic trouble with the French mechanics did not reassure them. Sometimes you have to just leave them to their own experience, even if you have experienced similar.
Now for the Canal entre Champagne et Bourgogne. 224 km with 114 locks and a nearly five-kilometre long tunnel along the way. It was formerly called the channel “Canal entre Marne et Saone” but one bright person at a tourist office probably got the idea to rename the channel to something with champagne and burgundy, so now it is called so – although Vitry has no more champagne-growing, and at the other end there are no single burgundy-fields. It is stagnant peasant country. Cereals and cows.
The French are not consistent. The old name, “Canal entre Marne a Saone” still occur on most signs along the canal – signs that are one hundred percent written in French. All information. All instructions. All brochures on the channel. Everything is in French. Only French. Stupid.
The French would not dream of sailing on the canals themselves. Well, except for one or two. It is Americans, Australians, British, Germans, Belgians and especially Dutch sailors that man the French rivers and channels in a fleet of converted barges, custom-built riverboats, lavish motored and castrated sailboats – including one from Denmark. We meet – virtually – no sailors from France.
Would it then make sense to make signs communicating in English or German? Yes, by God. But the French would not dream of it.
We sail to Orconte and stop at a stump berth surrounded by cornfields, trees, anglers and bird song. The only other boat at the dock are our friends from the UK, a young couple – on leave with their two children. Nice, Nellie is among friends and spends the evening with Bertie and Elisa.
Log-book: Today’s distance: 14 km. Sailed time 14.00 to 17.30 = 3 ½ hours. Locks: 6 pcs. Weather: autom-like. We woke up to the leaves falling from the trees. The wind is cold. The sky is grey. The heat wave is blown away. Back to normal?