Full moon having been a few days prior, this was the day upon which the tidal stream would be fastest and for the shortest length of time.

An early start, rearrangement of the mooring lines to ensure ease of cast off in what was already a strong flow. Pull in the stern line, slowly release the bow, hard reverse to bring in the stern, aboard came Cliff, full throttle (2500 revs) forward, stern and bow lines back on board and off roared Gratis.

What picturesque country side, as the river narrowed and banks upon which grew vibrant green flowing reeds and tall trees replaced the urban sprawl.

Boats hidden and forgotten peeped through the undergrowth.

Occasionally, we would sight a little gem.

Moss covered the lower pylons of the bridges.

Reminder of times past came and went.

Surprisingly, or maybe not, as we motored further inland, the river’s speed of flow gradually decreased, becoming a much gentler current rather than a gushing torrent.

An occasional animal carcass floated by: a reminder of the river’s hidden dangers.

Signs upon the bridges and banks helped guide us.

The first lock at last in sight, to the nearby mooring situated upon the starboard side edged Gratis to await the opening of lock’s gates – we had emailed the capitainerie of our imminent arrival that morning, and phoned as the lock came in sight.

An old stair case told of a past docking area.

It’s all very well reading about the locks and their methods of mooring during the process, but another to actually carry it out: yet another learning curve for all on board as we entered our first.

Narrow in width, precision – and good large fenders – upon entering was required. I soon discovered it was imperative to loop up to the first mooring – in this case floating bollards – upon which the stern of the boat came. Having missed the opportunity, as Gratis floated to port, out came the pole to hold her and Little G2 off the lock’s wall.

With water a gushing in, the lock soon filled, front gates opened, engine roared to life – Big Bertha is always off to ensure the prop doesn’t catch any debris that may enter the narrow area.

Out Gratis edged, into the most idyllic, picturesque anchorage imaginable at Castets – en – Dorthe. Crystal clear waters encased in thick deep green weed through which swam a myriad of fish, tadpoles and other small critters. Frogs leapt, ducks foraged, small coot like birds called and iridescent dragonflies of greens, reds and blues flittered.

The township peaceful and quaint beckoned.

A bit of fun for Bob.

A most helpful capitain provided us with a folder that contained information on services available, shop opening hours, a labelled map of the small township, and sights to explore in close proximity. 15 euro per night with ablutions, water and electricity provided within the cost was quite a cheap overnight stay.

New friendships made as our neighbours joined us for sundowners in the fading light.