My Travel Blog

Quantifying What We Love About Barging

Were tied up in front of lock 26.  The Canal Des Ardennes may be beautiful, but I forgot about the step.  It is a series of 26 locks.  Some are only one and half boat lengths apart.  If you’re driving it’s long periods of concentration.  If you’re on the bow handling lines it’s just hard work. The chart book says to figure seven hours to complete this portion of the canal.  Unfortunately it must have taken us seven hours and five minutes because the lock keeper closed lock 26 just as we arrived.  For most travelers having to change plans on short notice is a disaster.  Because Rabelo is our home it’s no big deal.  We simply pulled over and tied up.  Tomorrow morning at seven o’clock we will be back on the canal.

“We past this commercial barge on the step. Note how close the locks are.”

“Not much space left when Rabelo is in the lock.”

“The lock doors in front of Rabelo will swing towards our bow when they open.”

“Everyone likes to watch when Rabelo is in a lock.”

Today Lisa cooked three marvelous meals, cleaned the bathroom, worked on her painting and went for a one-hour walk while Wilco and I negotiated the locks.  During dinner Lisa and I tired to quantify what it was that we enjoyed so much about cruising.  At home I don’t change the bedding, clean toilets or go marketing yet on Rabelo it’s all part of the cruising experience.  So what is it that makes cruising so special?  We concluded that it’s not something you can explain in a couple of succinct sentences.  For Lisa and I possibly the greatest attraction is that we get to spend so much time together.  Lisa thinks the lifestyle is less complicated and there isn’t as much pressure.  For me it may be the sheer beauty of the French canals.  At times I am in absolute awe as the countryside slowly passes by.  Even the birds along the canals sing a sweeter song.  The French must send their fowl to singing school.  How else could they have such an extensive repertoire that is performed so perfectly?

“I took this picture while driving on the Canal Des Ardennes.”

“Lisa going for a walk along the canal.”

“A family of ducks trying to decide if they want to go swimming.”

“This chateau was being refurbished. Someday it will be a private residence.”

This evening the weather was ideal so Lisa and I ate on deck.  On one side of Rabelo was the canal and surrounding foliage.  On the other side were fields of every shade of green imaginable.  Of course throughout the entire meal we were serenaded by a myriad of birds practicing their newest compositions.  Can heaven be any better, or is it that bottle of wine we had for dinner that’s talking?

-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.