My Travel Blog

The 180 Degree Battle & Charleville-Mezieres

We’ve been fighting the current on the Muese River for two weeks.  We spoke to another cruiser, and a few weeks ago he had to wait eight days before continuing on the Meuse River due to flooding.  If we had to go with the current I would have stopped.    It’s one thing to run with the stream on a small boat where you can reverse course and face into the current.  On a vessel the size of Rabelo we rarely have that option.  Making a 180-degree turn in a channel that’s not much wider than Rabelo is long, is one of the more difficult maneuvers we sometimes have to make.  With a strong current it’s downright scary.

“This was taken just as we crossed the border into France. Note how enthusiastic Lisa and our guests are.”

Unfortunately to tie up in Charleville-Mezieres we had to make that infamous 180-degree turn.  I was at the wheel.  Wilco and I had decided that I would turn Rabelo in a clockwise direction, which meant I had to start from the left side of the channel.  As soon as we past the last bridge I headed for the left bank, but the current kept pushing me to the right.  The widest part of the channel, where I was to make the turn, was coming up fast. I couldn’t get Rabelo in position, so I made an executive decision.  I let the current push me to the right side of the channel and proceeded to make my turn in the opposite direction.  Fortunately everything worked as it was supposed to.  The turn was made at the widest part of the river, and Rabelo didn’t receive a scratch.  Making a 180-degree turn in a strong current requires lots of power.  The people sitting on their boats watching us may have had a little extra water added to their drinks as the stern of our big baby went flying by with the engine screaming and propeller throwing up lots of spray.

“Charleville-Mezieres is known for its beautiful square.”

“An old goat tied up next to a lock. The rest are on Rabelo.”

“Passing by a field of mustard.”

“A typical lock keepers house.”

“The white cows of France.”

Right now we’re tied to a signpost.   It’s a huge no no, but so long as the wind doesn’t pick up and no one catches us we’ll be fine.  Oh yes, and there’s a frog pond next to us.  I can guarantee that if those little buggers don’t shut up tonight we’ll be having frog’s legs for breakfast.

“Tied to a signpost on the Canal Des Ardennes.”

“The frog pond we were tied next to.”

“Wilco has a new place to drive Rabelo from.”


-Tom Miller
Author of “The Wave” – 
a Chuck Palmer Adventure novel


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.