12 Locks in 16km, including combinations of one four, one two and one three. All manned, our work upon entry was made much simpler. By day’s end we had gone through a drop of 46.06 metres overall.
For the first time on our own, the process of entering and departing the first lock got our rhythm going: the remainder followed like a piece of cake.
Depth wise, the canal was 1.8 metres for much of the day. Upon arrival, the lock operators were passing down the line news of our coming, and releasing a little more water to ensure us not grounding: although it was not really an issue, since VNF state 1.5 metre max draft and we draw 1.45 metres. It was kind of them, and we did appreciate the thought, for it meant Big G not scraping the tree roots beneath.
Sadly, the shoring of the banks deteriorated, allowing dirt to drift onto the bottom of the already shallow canal.
For a few seconds, an aged wash basin set upon the banks provided an item of interest for our eyes.
There were cyclists and rental boats galore this day. We are now truly in the world of holiday makers’ heaven.
To anyone taking their boat through the canal system, beware of the Bumper boats. Locks exited, with pole wielding children at the bow believing they could fend of Gratis should she veer too ‘close’ and imbeciles who pulled unexpectedly pulled out from shore, requiring Bob to rapidly placed the throttle in reverse to reduce speed from 4 knots: what hope would they have against an 18 tonner!! We experienced a beauty this day. Big G restricted in her manoeuvring due to her draft, a boat moored on port side bank, and a bumper boat racing toward us at full speed, his horn blaring. Gratis was already as far to starboard as she could possibly go and speed reduced. Speed increased, still racing toward us came the redneck helmsman blasting his non – stop horn. Just past the moored boat he drew level with our girl and had the audacity to give Bob a mouthful. Here was someone who had no idea of the laws of the water: vessels must give way to larger vessels and those restricted in draft and manoeuvring. Past he went, leaving plenty of wake behind, thanks to his lack of consideration. Reduced speed on Gratis’ behalf saw her stern commence swinging us off centre and, although already making adjustments in preparation for this occurrence, Bob swore and cursed as Big G veered off anyway.
Black mountains in the distance, those modern day white windmills, like pimples on a pumpkin, were a stark contrast against the blue sky and greens of the land.
At last Bram, our anchorage for the night, was attained. Choc – a – block full of bumper boats crisscrossing in all directions, and rafting up quite close to the narrow bridge – an accident about to happen.
Finding a nice spot on the port side of the bank, we settled in for the night.
Soon afterward we were entertained yet further as one after the other, rowing boats and cyclists commenced arriving: it was an international competition down the canal that added a new flavour to the atmosphere.
View from the bridge.
The heat of the sun past, a forty minute walk found us in the township of Bram, an old circular city, which in the times of Roman occupation had been an important staging post for people undertaking the journey from Toulouse to Carcassonne.
Bram’s development over the centuries.