My Travel Blog

This Is How Cruising Ought To Be… Right?

We are on the summit pond with no locks for next 30 kilometers.  The scenery is magnificent, and the weather is cooperating.  This kind of cruising should be as relaxing as it gets, but it’s not.  The canal is incredibly narrow.   It is so narrow it is almost impossible to pass boats going the opposite direction, especially if they are rental boats.  You can always tell a rental boat by the serpentine wake it leaves going from one side of the canal to the other.   Some of the turns are so tight we almost don’t fit, and of course there’s always a rental boat tied up in exactly the wrong spot.  Then there are the concrete abutments left over from the old bridges.  They are only 5.2 meters apart and devilish to negotiate.  It’s been very windy, and Rabelo with her high sides acting like a sail becomes extremely difficult to drive, but how can I complain?  We’re living on a boat, and traveling the canals of France for six months.

“A rental boat exiting the lock I call The Black Hole. Are they going to hit us? There’s a reason they have all those fenders.”

“Another rental boat to avoid.”

Today we went by a small village with a fair in progress in the middle of a field.  It must have been for farmers as every kind of tractor imaginable was on display. The MC wore a bright green hat, and the minute he saw Rabelo he started talking to us through his loudspeaker.  I didn’t catch a word he said as there was a commercial barge the size of Rabelo going in the opposite direction.  Lisa said he invited us to join them.

“The faire with plenty of tractors to see.”

With the wind, the rental boats, and the narrow canal I was exhausted.   It was time to turn Rabelo over to Wilco.  After just one kilometer we entered a .5-kilometer tunnel, and right after that a 2.5-kilometer tunnel.  They were started in 1839 and completed in 1845. A few more kilometers and we came to the Saint-Louis Arzviller lift lock.  It was built in 1969 and replaced 17 locks. It is truly an engineering marvel.  We were whisked down over 150 feet in less than four minutes.  At the bottom of the lock we spent the night tied up next to a beautiful picnic ground.

“Entering a very long tunnel. Note the train tunnel next to us.”

“Rabelo with her pilothouse down.”

“Saint-Louis Arzviller incline plane.”

“Rabelo entering the Arzviller lift lock.”

“The crowd watching Rabelo descend in the Arzviller lock.”

“A view from the spot where we tied up just below the Arzviller lock.”

“A view from our kitchen window.”

-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.