Summer has arrived with a vengeance. Just two days before it was 15°C, wet and freezing. This day up to 29°C, thank you: not complaining though!
After four days of waiting, the river levels had finally fallen to such an extent that pleasure and passenger ‘liner’ craft were once more allowed through. Early evening, Gratis was taken through the lock – a first on our own on the Rhone, and what a cinch it was! She was moored on the pontoon on the other side for the night, thereby allowing us an early morning start without waiting for the lock to be ready.
Overnight, the river speed had fallen to around 2700 m³/s. Gratis was motoring along at speeds of 7.8 – 8km/hr and 1800rpm: what a dream.
Gratis played dodgem logs on a regular basis: some of them were real beauties!
At Roquemaure we sighted the small church in which the priest composed ‘Silent Night’.
White swans, cranes and hunting birds were seen on a regular basis.
At the Bollene Lock (yes, they are large ranging between 7.5 and 22.5 metre rises)
two of the white beauties were intent on entering as Gratis exited inch by inch. With only a metre or two between us, the pair suddenly realised it wasn’t such a good idea after all. Turning tail, their feet paddling as fast as they could possibly go, the couple raced out ahead of us.
at a waterway junction
Bridges by the number, beneath each of which the current increased considerably.
Giant limestone cliffs rose out of nowhere on the right hand side of the Rhone just at Pont (bridge) de Robinet, whilst to the left high rolling hills lay to our left.
An occasional overflow still ran into the river.
At the final bridge for the day, just before the junction in which the town Viviers lay, it was now that the strength of the current intensified significantly. At the end of an exhausting 11½ day in which 70km had been attained, that was the last thing we required! However, Big Bertha’ revs were increased to 2300rpm as Gratis dropped down to 1.5km/hr and the Rhone’s current grew to 11km/hr.
Entertainment in the name of a good fifty inflatables racing by in groups of 10 or more sped past.
It was with relief that a slow two kilometres later, our girl’s speed increased and the revs slowed. Another 15 minutes, and Gratis was brought to rest in the quiet waters alongside the Lock Chateauneuf.