48° 51′ 8.3376” N 2° 22′ 4.6992” E
July 6. – 2014
We sail from Port Arsenal at 10.10 in the pouring rain and wearing sailor clothes from head to toe. French summer? Hmmm, it looks excactly like the heavy-rained summers in Kalvehave and Præstø, that we are trying to put back us by sailing out in Europe.
We sail through the port gate with Göran Arvedahl from Stockholm and his two new guesting mates, as they are going the same way as us. He sails in Evanna III, a Halberg Rassy 34 with a draft of only 1.65 meters, where we are 1.75. We agree with him, that he sail first, just like the penguins in Antarctica, where the older penguins send the young penguins first into the water to dive for food. If they do not come up again, it tells the elderly that is dangerous.
He is somewhat older than us, has set aside 14 weeks for his trip from Stockholm through Göta Canal, Kattegat, Limfjorden, the North Sea, the English Channel and via the French rivers and canals down to Marseille. He sails in Göran Schildts wake and follow as closely as possible the route, that this Finnish art historian described in his book from 1947, “Wish Journey” as he and his wife and a friend sailed this route with the ship Daphne from Stockholm to Marseille.
Göran Arve Dahl calls his journey “Wish Journey II” and has created a blog with that name.
It is a beautiful trip out of Paris. Much more beautiful than the entrance from Poissy-sous-Carriere to Paris, which was characterized by derelict industrial estates and decaying retired riverboats. Here there are several green areas, campgrounds, parks and private gardens directly to the river. We see many herons and some anglers but meet only a few other sailors. A few riverboats. The total number of pleasure boats can be counted on less than two hands.
We follow Göran. But after his two inexperienced crew members go wrong attaching Evanna III in a lock, whit the result, that his stern are swinging dangerously, headed directly towards Ronja, we prefer to sail ahead of him, although we follow into the locks and wait for each other.
As something new we pass two tunnels, Saint-Maur and Chalifert, respectively 597 and 294 metres. Very different. A bit like the tub pitch in Tivoli.
In the evening we get to the peaceful city of Meaux – 48,000 inhabitants and in their own understanding the Brie cheese capital of the World. The city boasts both a municipal and private harbour. The private according to our river map has the most facilities, so we choose this.
It does not look like anything special, and it turns out also that the port is bankrupt and the area has been enclosed by fences and locked gates. When we want a ride into town, it is completely impossible to leave the port area.
Log-book: Today’s distance: 49 km. Sailed time: 10:10 a.m. to 17:00 = 7 hours. Locks: 9 pcs. Weather: Day rain but snug and ok
48° 51′ 8.3376” N 2° 22′ 4.6992” E
July 5. – 2014
We are moored in Port Arsenal. In the heart of Paris. We almost feel, that we are moored to the Place du Bastille. Additional danish flags of paper adorn Ronja. It is Per’s birthday.
Henrik and Susanne explore Paris. Kirsten and Per use the first half of the day to check the water depths in the canals further down to the Mediterranean. People keep telling us, that they do not think we can get through with a draft of 1.75 meters, so we research with the French water authorities, VNF’s website (which is pretty poor), we knock on the door of other sailboats in the port (in addition to us there are only two, the other 110 are motor boats), and we get the port captain to call the lock posts along the Briare Canal.
It turns out that there is a problem. Briare Canal cannot meet the minimum depth of 1.80 meters. There has been too little water from the Alps this year. It is missing 10 to 20 centimetres, in some places more. It is a no-go. We buy new charts at the port office and plan a new, more northerly route along the Marne River and two canals, the Canal Lateral de Marne and the Canal entre Champagne et Bourgogne. The very name of the latter channel makes it easier to swallow that a whole winter’s preparation for one specific route has changed totally with the snap of a finger.
Improvisation requires thorough preparation.
48° 58′ 49.8324” N 2° 2′ 12.2208” E
July 4. – 2014
We sail from Poissy-sous-Carriere at lunchtime. Henrik and Per has bought food in bulk. Huge. Two stuffed supermarket carts. 24 bottles of water, beer, wine, garbage bags, disposable tableware and food for many days. Meanwhile, Susanne and Kirsten have made the boat ready and scared a million spiders off the deck and from the cockpit.
We fill the tank with diesel, pay the port captain and say goodbye to him and his son with thanks for taking good care of Ronja through the winter. It cost 250 euros extra for oil, oil filters, and battery recharging. Well, it had cost the same in Denmark.
The port’s uncrowned king, Hans, get a new handful of canned beer and a hug from Kirsten. He looks like a happy man.
The trip to Paris is ok. We know the route in and out. For Susanne and Henrik it is an experience to try the locks for the first time and also to see Paris from the sea. The last – to see Paris from the sea on a Friday night – is a great experience for all of us.
Paris has just lost to Germany in the World Cup in Brazil. But it is not visible from the Parisians when we sail the last kilometres towards our destination, Port Arsenal. There’s a party along the Seine quay edges. Thousands of young people sitting in groups, smoking, drinking, eating, having fun, listening to music or dancing at the special dance places. It’s a beautiful experience to sail through Paris so late in the day. Party Ships. Holiday Atmosphere. Stuffed restaurants. Festively dressed Frenchmen. Great.
Log-book: Today’s distance: 80 km. Sailed time from 12.30 to 21.30 = 9 hours. Locks- 4 pcs. Weather: heavy and hot.
48° 51′ 3.9636” N 2° 22′ 4.6992” E
July 24.-28. – 2013
Arsenal port is located in the heart of Paris, right up to Place du Bastille. We cannot have a better starting point for a visit to this amazing city. Here there is shopping, jogging, sightseeing, dining and relaxation – all within walking distance. We are here for five nights. It costs 40 Euro per night, and the port of Arsenal thus runs with this summers price records. But it has to be like that, with only this one port to choose from, and as the harbour at the same time is perfect with its location.
Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday we are with Nellie, Lasse and Tianling in the sense that we are all together in the afternoons and evenings, and that we then “kidnap” Nellie and take her on the boat at night, where Jørgen and Hanne stay while Lasse and Tianling sleep at a hotel. Fine arrangement.
Lasse and Tianling arrive during the morning, and then we explore Paris. Nothing wild. One day we basically visit only the Jardin du Luxembourg. In the evening we eat us through the red Michelin-book finding the best restaurants in Paris, which have not yet been giving stars, but are eager and bubbling to get it.
On Wednesday evening, Hanne ordered Villaret near the metro station Parmentier. Also good. Not quite on par with Auberge Pyrénées Cévennes though.
On Thursday we say goodbye to Lasse, Tianling and Nellie who will fly home on Thursday night. Back on the boat, we eat bread, cheese, lettuce and sausage with Hanne and Jørgen.
The next day it is quiet. We run along the Seine in the early morning before the heat gets too oppressive. A couple of the nights we have powerful thunderstorms, but otherwise it is typically 24 degrees in the morning increasing to 34 degrees in the early evening.
We’re doing things together with Jørgen and Hanne. And we also do things alone. Hanne and Jørgen take a day trip on bikes where we meet each other at the Louvre, which is open in the evening and we eat late dinner at Willie’s Wine Bar near the Louvre. Excellent restaurant.
At the same time we plan for the final week of the holiday. Hanne and Jørgen have suggested that we go to Burgundy and celebrate Hannes’s birthday along with a few of their friends who are vacationing in that area, and that we follow them to Denmark in their car through Alsace and Germany with the goal of being back in Denmark Thursday at midnight. But before we can call this a plan, we must have found a berth for Ronja in a safe winter harbour.
It is not easy.
Arsenal port has no room for us in 2014 and 2015, and it will anyway cost us DKK 35,000 for nine months of harbour fees, and on top of this come the months of June, July and August, when you can only be in the port at high season price of 40 Euro. With the assistance of a couple of Ebbe Dal’s friends and the port captain of Arsenal and with Hanne as interpreter, we examine some possible ports both south and north of Paris, and it ends up that we decide to sail back to Port St-Louis, where Jørgen and Hanne have their car.
We must get used to the fact, that the French have a different culture surrounding their boats in winter. They do ensure against frost and they change oil. But they keep the boats in the water. Since we have become accustomed to this idea, then it becomes easier to find a winter port, and we suspect at the same time that it would be possible also to sail at other times of the year than just the summer holidays.
48° 50′ 43.1556” N
2° 21′ 55.71” E
July 23. – 2013
It is clearly easier to sail, with more people. With Jørgen and Hanne aboard we go through the locks more easily and we are able to take turns at the helm and chart. And so it’s a huge advantage having a real French language-expert, Hanne, aboard. Shortly after the start of the day, she has reserved a berth in the port of Arsenal and booked a table for 17.30 at one of Michelin’s “bubble-restaurants” – Bib Gourmands – in 11 Arondissement. (The name was by the way Auberge Pyrénées Cévennes, and it had excellent service, mixed food on the menu from Spain and France. Even Nellie was very well behaved, as she was focused on food. Six adults and a baby eat and drink lavishly for 277.50 Euro).
The entrance to Paris is really impressive. We pass it all. Eiffel Tower, the Musee D’Orsay, Notre Dame. We see the poor living in cardboard boxes or tents under bridges. We see tourists by the thousands travel on the Seine on pre-packaged harbour cruises. Inside the Arsenal harbour Nellie, Lasse and Tianling wait. Greatest day of this years journey.
Log-book: Sailed distance: 81 km or 40 miles. Time: depart at 7:30, attuned to today’s first lock. At five o’clock we dock at the Port de Plaisance Arsenal in the middle of Paris. Crew: George, Hanne, Kirsten and Per. Weather: Hot, hot, hot. We put the cockpit tent up in order to block the sun. Shortly before the entrance to Paris’ centre, we get drizzle.