48° 26′ 36.5136” N 5° 8′ 15.6768” E
July 12, 2015
Today Kirsten is the one, who runs the family car. She takes it to Chaumont and will wait for Ronja to arrive mid-afternoon. It is the last day with a this car, it is returning to Denmark, and Kirsten fills the car with new 48 litres of spring water and a lot of other necessities. Later after bunkering we also go for 40 litres of diesel from a gas station three kilometres away. So nice to have a car.
In terms of sailing this is the worst trip so far. The day starts in fine style. Lasse and Tian Ling organize a hair salon on the aft deck. Lasses hair is cut in the breaks between locks, and Nellie tests our camera. We let her do it, although we can see, that she is pressing all the buttons and putting fingerprints on the lens. She experiments. And that makes some funny pictures.
Today’s nightmare starts immediately after lock 26, Condes, which leads us into a 308 metre long tunnel. As we approach the end of the tunnel, we see a group of boys shouting and gesturing to a buddy, who apparently is standing on top of the tunnel, ready to jump into the water. In itself wrong. The bridge over the tunnel is five or six metres above the river, and the river is only 1.80 metres deep. We can see, that the boys have a hard time convincing their buddy, that there is actually a ship coming out of the tunnel, and that he must not jump, and we also begin to roar loudly from the tunnel that here we come. “Get out of our way, please”.
He is not jumping. Obviously it is his first leap, and he is not as brave as his friends.
Then follows the three most terrible of kilometres, we have ever experienced with Ronja. She scrapes along the bottom. On long stretches of three even four hundred metres we hear and feel, how we scratch across the bottom of the canal. Heavy. Speed disparaging and horrifying. Can the boat can stick to this? Sometimes we hit an irregularity in the bottom, which gets Ronja to evert in an eerie bump, while she works over the obstacle.
We keep the engine to 2300 revolutions. We go on. We find it difficult to see an alternative. If we slow down, we will become hopelessly stuck, and then we will certainly not make it through. It will be three long kilometres. Our relief is great, when gate 27 turns up. Here the sea level is not flashy, but deep enough to once again flow with all of Ronjas beautiful body in the water.
Most of this summers stretch the bottom has consisted of mud, and that is not so bad. It takes some speed, when Ronjas keel plods through the mud bottom. On this particular stretch, however, is a rough and uneven concrete bottom. The channel is cast the entire stretch between locks 26 and 27. And the water level is significantly below the promised 1.80 meters. We later find that it is missing 40 centimetres relative to mean sea level, due to lack of rain, and because VNF has not levelled out the differences. VNF has lakes higher up, which they can use to send extra water down the system, when it is missing.
The sailors at the next port are all angry, that this has not happened.
Logbog: Today’s distance: 25 km. Sailed time 9:30 to 15:30 = 6 hours. Locks: 11. Weather: Sun all day. 27-28 degrees