We spent Good Friday morning doing a bit of sightseeing in Avignon – but quickly realised that having been here on at least 3 other occasions there was not much more to do. The mooring is good with electricity and safe but right next to the main road through the city so very, very noisy…..all night! Also, it’s not the best place for walking the boys and certainly no opportunities for them to have a free off-the-lead run so we decided to move on to Vallabregues at lunchtime.
It was only a couple of hours and when we got there a friendly bargee waved us to raft up alongside him, which we managed without incident. Having tied up he said that the passenger boat on the only hammerhead would be leaving at 5pm and wouldn’t be back until Monday so we were welcome to move over to there once he’d left. Great!! We love Vallabregues and it is a perfect place for the dogs….and us…being off the road and in the middle of countryside.
At the given time the passenger boat moved away and we let go of our host to take up the vacated spot. Unfortunately, on closer inspection, it wasn’t a straight-sided pontoon but 4 large posts sticking out well beyond the pontoon that we figured we could moor against but getting the boys off would be perilous, at best, but more likely impossible. By this time the wind had picked up considerably and we didn’t feel we would be able to get back alongside the barge so decided to continue the 2 hour trip down to Arles, where we knew from experience there is a huge pontoon for pleasure boats like us.
We got caught for a short time at the final Rhone lock and took the chance to walk the boys along the bank. Eventually we got through the lock into the final section of the Rhone and whizzed at 12kms down to Arles, where we arrived as dusk was descending.
Horror of horrors, the pontoon was not there and the restaurant barge had 2 pleasure boats already rafted alongside so no room for us. The only chance of stopping we had was a small rickety pontoon for local fishermen and after some thought and careful manoeuvring we managed to raft outside a small fishing boat with our lines taken directly to the pontoon – so effectively using him as a giant fender! By the time we’d finished tying up it was dark and the boys were ready to stretch their legs, so to speak. The next blow was that the gate at the top of the gangway was padlocked from the outside and we had no way at all of getting off! Ok for us but the poor dogs just couldn’t understand why we wouldn’t open the gate and let them out.
Well, Brody is young and uncouth so doing all of his business on the pontoon was no problem. Bosun, on the other hand, wouldn’t even pee – despite lots of cajoling, encouragement and pleading. He simply refused to lower his standards, regardless of the circumstances!!
For us it was ok – there was a fair on the other side of the river and the music was good to listen too along with the hubbub of excitement, lights and sounds that accompany fairs all over the world. A few glasses of wine were had, broken up by regular but unsuccessful pontoon trips with Bosun.
At first light Saturday morning we let go of our mooring and made the short trip back upriver to join the Petit Rhone that would lead us to the Canal du Rhone a Sete via the lock at St Gilles. A small stop was showing just inside the Petit Rhone but it was a 5ft long jetty that already had a 15m barge on it and it seemed the occupants were probably still sleeping soundly.
Surely we would be able to stop at the lock to let the boys off…………er, no. The lock was open ready for us and the small drop of just 50cm meant the lock wall that had been 2 meters above our heads when we started was now 2.5m so no chance at all to jump off, even for a minute!
We read the book, again, and it made sad reading for the boys…..it was approaching midday and the nearest stop was still 2 hours away. There was nothing for it, we took the turn up towards Beaucaire to get off the main canal and stopped on the bank using Thirza’s metal stakes designed for wild mooring. It worked a treat and the boys could not have been happier. Bosun just disappeared off up the bank on his own and clearly did not want to be disturbed. If he’d been human I’ve no doubt there would have been a magazine or book under his arm!
After a time we moved on to Gallician in the Petit Camargue and took a great berth alongside so the scooter could come off for its maiden run out. Saturday afternoon saw us sitting outside the Mas du Notaire Cave with a glass of wine in our hand, happy dogs at our feet and feeling pretty relaxed.