Pont de Merpins – Port d’Envaux
1 lock 43 km
Soon after starting the day, we pass the confluence with the river Né. At the end of the 19th century, an attempt was made to canalise the river. But not much came of it, apart from a 2 km or so dead straight channel. The confluence also marks the border between the departments Charente and Charente-Maritime.
The lock at la Baine is one of the two mechanised locks on the Charente. Why this is the case appears to be a miracle. First we have to find the student lockkeeper, whose only qualification is, that he knows were the only button is well hidden, that is needed to start the lock. After this the lock takes for ever to empty, while we are watched by the passengers of the local trip boat. Feeling useful…
Attraction of the day is going to be Saintes with his roman ruins. But before cultures comes food and we stop at La Table du Maroc. Great Moroccan food right by the river at a very reasonable price. Distance between boat and table less then seven steps. Very recommendable.
This triumph arch was was built 20 A.D. to honour emperor Tiberius and his son Germanicus. I know this, because thoughtfully they wrote it onto the arch. So my Latin came to use, the first time since I left school almost 30 years ago. Latin is the most important thing one learns at school. True story.
The other big attraction are the ruins of the amphitheatre at the outskirts of town. We get slightly lost on the way and detour through what seems to have been an old hospital or a barracks. By the looks of it, all ready for being broken up, but in the meantime used by the younger people of the town. Some great graffiti.
The moorings in Saintes are modern, but very busy and exposed, next to noisy streets, so we plan our exit and leave. Passing the Bernard Palissy II the second time today. This time under full steam.
And then we have fire on board.
Some ($())(°”§ going full speed in his half glider passes us at 2 metres distance. After a few seconds the fire alarm comes on. To make sure its really fire, it shouts “Fire,Fire”. Usually it shouts “carbon monoxide, carbon monoxide !!”. At the middle of the night, when nobody is at home in the marina, till the neighbours ring, or smash a window. So naturally I’m confused, believing its a false alarm, just of the wrong kind. But then the lad joins the alarm quiet hysterically. So I reach for the grab bag, point the good ship towards the shore and prepare to empty 3 kg of fire extinguisher foam into the cabin. Meanwhile the IO, quiet witted, throws my brand new thermos cup over board. The cooker was on to boil a kettle and the wake tipped the thermos onto it, where the plastic handle caught fire. The Charente now is emblemised with a piece of rubbish and we end our fire drill. Bugger.
For the night we stop at at Port d’Envaux most delightful little harbour. We have a quiet night, even so the boat next door is occupied by a geezer who looks like a spitting image of Donald Trump, and two lassies who are clearly not in his age group. Maybe I should have taken some pictures…