My Travel Blog

Life Along The Saone River

All the cables have been replaced, the welds checked, and adjustments made.  Our pilothouse is better than new.  The manufacturer inspected the entire system and either fixed or replaced everything that needed attention.  After almost two weeks in Dijon we are headed back down the Burgundy Canal to the Soane River. Our plan is to go 40 miles down river and make a sharp right turn on to the Canal du Centre.

I hope we have enough time to go to Roanne, but if we don’t it won’t matter. When it comes to barging it’s truly not the destination, but the trip that matters. It really gets down to how much time we want to spend moving Rabelo. The canal is beautiful for most of its length, so we’re not exactly in a rush.

The view from our mooring in Dijon.

Some beggars at our kitchen window.

A pretty home on the Saone River.

There’s a dragon boat race in St. Jean de Losne that we may have to check out.

When the Canal du Centre was originally built it was designed for 30-meter barges.  Eventually they increased the length of the locks so that a Frycinet barge like Rabelo, which is supposed to be 38.5 meters, could transit.  Of course we’re a little longer, but that’s okay.  Unfortunately when they lengthened the locks they didn’t bother to change some of the tighter turns along the canal.  In some places it is impossible to make the turns without rubbing against the canal walls, which is why God made steel boats.

While in Dijon we drove with our friends Alex and Elizabeth to an art show in one of Frances minuscule villages populated with ancient stone houses and narrow asphalt roads. We loved Karin Neumann’s painting on the art show flyer, but alas it was sold.   After the show we drove to another village where we had tea and some hor d’oeuvrs.  The setting in a garden along the banks of the Seine River was as tranquil and enticing as one can imagine. Clear water flowed past us while surrounded by wooded banks and ancient bridges.  Inside the restaurant was a macabre museum of the strangest stuff I’ve ever seen.  Much of it could have come right out of a Hollywood horror movie.

Our friends Alex and Elizabeth, and Karin.

A picture taken from the garden where we had tea.

The creepiest museum I’ve ever seen.

Our trip down the Soane River was uneventful.  With only three locks in 40 miles it doesn’t get much better. The first lock upon entering the Canal du Centre takes you off the Soane River. It is eleven meters (33 ft.) deep and barely long enough to hold Rabelo.  We have less than a foot of clearance on both ends of our big baby.  It’s a little disconcerting to see this huge concrete wall right in front of your boat that is only a few inches away knowing that in just minutes thousands of gallons of water will flood the lock.

Closing the door behind us.

The concrete wall in front of Rabelo is only a few inches from our anchors.

We made it through the lock and we’re on our way.

– Tom Miller
Author of “The Wave”  and “When Stones Speak”– 
Chuck Palmer Adventure novels


About the Author:

Tom Miller graduated from the University of Southern California with a Bachelor of Science in Geology. He is a consummate adventurer with over 1,000 dives as a recreational scuba diver, and an avid sailor who has traveled 65,000 miles throughout the Pacific including the Hawaiian Islands. Miller has also cruised the canals of Europe on his canal barge and given numerous lectures on cruising the canals of Europe, as well as sailing in the South Pacific. Piloting is also an interest of Miller's, and He has completed over 1,000 hours flying everything from small Cessnas to Lear jets.