5th July. We left our mooring after lunch and ascended the last couple of locks before the big tunnel. A Dutch motor yacht, Idefix, had passed us earlier and was hoping to make the early evening tow through the tunnel. As we round a curve in the canal we can see he is alongside the bank, just in front of barge called Victoria.
It seemed strange for Idefix to have stopped here – the small town of Vendhuile is a kilometre further ahead…….until we saw why. A huge tree had fallen across the canal. Apparently it happened early this morning, narrowly missing Victoria, who was heading for the 9.30 tow through the tunnel today.
We pulled over behind our new neighbours and went for a look. The guys on Victoria said they’d called the VNF at 8.30 this morning and 3 different people had come to have a look but then left again.
We all decided it was worth trying to use one of the boats to drag the tree out of the way, so Frank volunteered…..of course!! We rigged up a rope bridal between the two bow stanchions to spread the load and threw a line to Rien (Idefix) who was in his dinghy with Stuart (Victoria) surveying the tree. Line attached to barge and tree Frank goes full astern. The tree started to move and for a moment we thought we’d done it – but having reached its limit the tree simply bent back to it original place, taking Thirza with it!!!
At that same moment the VNF arrived with chainsaws etc. and set about cutting branches off left, right and centre. With his dingy in the water Rien had gone to the base of the tree on the other bank and reported that it hadn’t broken but fallen over taking its roots with it. He said the base was approx 1.5 meters in diameter so the parts of the tree we can see sticking up above the water really are just the tip of the iceberg. Unless the VNF have an underwater chainsaw I think we could be here for some time!
The beers and picky bits have come out so all that’s left to do is enjoy the afternoon shade (thankfully we have stopped in the shade!!) and watch the ‘experts’ at work. C’est la vie – c’est France!!