An early start on a bright sunlit morning, knowing what we’d learnt about the water actions after observing the lock/water flow design St Jory last night the first lock was a breeze.

St Jory lock water flow.

St Jory lock

Put it all together and it looks like this:

Lock walls were encased in green ferns, whilst leaf litter catchers were set up on the side.

Trees were dying.

Aqueducts were crossed.

A long hard day with no stops until just inside the Canal du Midi, for the banks were shallow and pontoons short.

Ropes wore down the lock walls

and life rings were attached to the outer rails of the lock gates.

The final bridge prior to entering the turning point was yet a new challenge. A junction point for the Canal du Garonne, Canal du Midi, Canal de Brienne and Port de l’Embouchure – in effect, a cross roads – a strong current was to be found here too.

Slowing in the final approach, Bob edged Gratis beneath the narrow bridge. Unlike the previous designs where the concrete bases of the bridges were a solid straight slab, this wasn’t. Instead, in the centre on both sides was a rectangular shaped indentation that added to the complexity of the currents to be contended with.

Swirling eddies raced round the curving bank, beneath the concrete structure, around the indentations and out into the Canal de Garonne. A burst of engine, and Gratis safely burst forth into the massive pond. Two arched entrances greeted us to the left and moored boats along the junction’s edge to the right, all the way to the port. A sharp ninety degree turn required in order to enter the Midi, Bob made the decision to make use of the massive turning circle available within the pond in order to line up our approach to the Midi’s narrow entrance, which consisted of two bridges.

The equivalent of a three point turn undertaken, Gratis entered the canal. A feeling of euphoria swept through all on board as the realisation of this feat swept through.

Ducks quacked and squawked, taking to the air in a flurry of feathers, feet racing ten to the dozen.

Ahead was the first lock of the Midi, and the heart of Toulouse: a manual lock, this was closed to the canal traveller for the period of 12:00 to 14:00, lunch break time for the French. Making good use of the time, Gratis was moored upon the bank and we, too, dined.

After weeks of peace, the sound of this fourth largest city in France was a deafening roar to one’s ears.

At last, the beeping noise which informed one the lock was working once more commenced as at snail’s pace the gates opened. Relief swept through one at the realisation of a current free entry. A 3 – 4 metre rise and at last we were through, into a channel filled with filth.

Beneath the third bridge, bottom was scraped at the second lock’s entrance. This time a 5 – 6 metre rise, the walls of the narrow construction dwarfed Big G. Round poles within the lock’s walls for the mooring lines this time.

With the posts situated quite a distance apart, Gratis was first edged forward, the bowline looped and tied. A burst of reverse sent Gratis sliding back, enabling attachment of the stern line. Now the lock was set in motion. A gurgling followed by a roar, the water spewed forth at the front of the lock, gradually climbing, until at last a mass of foam burst forth as the waters rushed up and over the massive block of concrete laying at the base of the structure.

Out and onward, into yet more polluted sludge that included the occasional dead decaying beast, carrying with it the stench of decay and excrement. Upon the banks, unkempt camps created from iron, wood, sheets and so forth heralded the abodes of the homeless and squatters.

Striking bottom yet again, the third and final lock for the day was entered. Into a chasm 9 – 10 metres in depth went Gratis who appeared the size of an ant at the base. The mooring lines connected in a manoeuvre a repeat of the previous lock, Gratis still touching bottom collected a mystery material around her prop. Floating bollards were available for use in this lock: what ease it not having to toss mooring lines!!

Up, up, up Gratis rose, to be greeted with our first sight of Toulouse

and Dicko standing upon the lock wall.

Upon the gates’ opening, yet more ordure drifted inward. Thanks to the dross attached to the prop, Gratis crept onward at slower than the pace of a sloth. Once clear of the lock, Bob powered the engine to full throttle: forward; reverse; forward; reverse; until at last the package was freed from the prop – for a while there Bob believed a dive below would be required, not a comforting thought!

Shading trees and bushes lined the banks for a short distance.

Erupting from the marina walls and sewage pipes, small plants heralded their commencement of the decay to come.

Boats moored ahead, soon heralded the end of the day’s journey. A visit to the capitainerie, a berth provided, rest at long last!!!!!!

A first in our trip so far, the anchorage here in Port St Sauveur, Toulouse, has a facility for black water waste: in light of the state of the waterway through this sector of the Midi to date, this attempt to clean entail a clean water environment appears to be a hopeless cause.

A visit to the Irish pub situated just down the road was a pleasant end for all concerned.

Much of our time here was spent relaxing and enjoying rather than so there were not a lot of images this time.