My Travel Blog

The Foul Fowl of Rabelo

I know we’re going to leave Saint Jean de Losne (SJL) some day, and if we’re lucky it could be Monday.  We have met some lovely people here, especially our neighbors Bobby and Linda, and their wonder dog Wilson, but it’s time to leave. The reality is that there is not much to do in SJL.  The restaurants are not very good.  The market sucks, but at least the bolangerie is pretty good, which isn’t helping our waistline.

If you haven’t figured it out by now we have a lot of birds around here.  There are cuckoos, geese, herons, and all the other birds we have to clean up after.  The other day Lisa was cold, and asked me to turn the heater on.  I did as I was told, but nothing happened.  I checked the boiler in the engine room and found a red light glowing. I pressed the red light, which recycles the starting sequence.  I could hear the fan come on, and then the boiler flame ignited.  Unfortunately, within ten seconds there was a loud huff, as in a muffled explosion.  Smoke belched out of every nook and cranny of the heater and its exhaust system. There wasn’t much I could do other than check the exhaust pipe. You may have guessed what happened.  A bird had built its nest in the exhaust pipe, and plugged it up.  When I started the heater the explosion blew most of the nest out. The heater is now working perfectly, though at times I can detect a whiff of something that smells a lot like baked chicken.

A friendly Blue Heron in our backyard.

Our car was loaded onto Rabelo’s deck.

Monday arrived and we were off. Our first stop was Seurre. It’s hard to describe what a treat it is for me to be back at the helm of Rabelo.  We were running down the Saone River leaving our troubles behind, or were we? Seurre was a nice, but an unremarkable Village.  Our next stop was Fragnes, which is really a suburb of Chalon-sur-Saone, or as the locals say Chalon.

Rabelo cruising on the Saone.

Captain Kevin takes Rabelo’s helm, in the right hand, for the first time, but still has lunch in his left.

Rabelo moored in Seurre.

Rabelo entering the first lock of the season, and it’s a big one.

We’ve been trying to set up a French bank account, and frankly it’s been a nightmare.  We had made arrangements to have all of our account documents sent to the branch in Dijon, which is about an hour drive from Chalon. Lisa made arrangements to meet our friends Alex and Elizabeth in Dijon for lunch, so at least we would enjoy getting together with old friends.  When it was time to leave Kevin tried to start the car, but the $#@%&$ refused to cooperate.  Fortunately there was a Renault dealership directly across the street from where we were parked.  I attribute our good luck to my pure living, or maybe not.  We were told we needed a new battery.  Just as we received the news about the battery Kevin noticed a large barge passing Rabelo at a high rate of speed.  Unfortunately, there hadn’t been any permanent bollards to tie Rabelo too, so we had to drive stakes into the ground.  On a barge the size of Rabelo stakes are never very secure.  We took off running only to find that all of our mooring stakes had been torn out of the ground.  Rabelo was adrift.  We somehow managed to get aboard and sort things out.  The girl at the marina said we could use a mooring that was usually reserved for hotel barges.

Not much room in this lock, maybe 1.5 feet at the stern and six inches at the bow.

Rabelo moored in Fragnes on a beautiful evening.

Our car had a dead battery.

Lisa and Alex in Dijon.

By the time Rabelo was securely tied up our car had its new battery.  We called Alex and Elizabeth only to find out we were going to be so late that Elizabeth would not be able to join us for lunch.  It was great seeing Alex, and I’m sure we will see Elizabeth the next time we are in Dijon.   That’s the good news.  The bad news was that the bank did not have any of our papers, so we will be back in Dijon soon.

-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.