I am happy to report that the gluing and fixing worked. Despite having a huge hole where the exhaust burnt through our small ball fender, the patch held and, although a little warped and out of shape following its ordeal, it is holding air and fully functional once again! The large ball had a much smaller and more conventional puncture, and that too seems to be holding. Phew!
Not long after leaving Xouaxange the canal branches off to the Canal de Houlliers – or what is now part of the Canal de la Sarre. At the confluence you can continue on the Marne au Rhine to Nancy or do what we did and set off towards the Moselle down the Sarre.
Our first stop was outside the VNF office in Mittersheim. Although badged as a small town with amenities, the only shop was a Proxi / Boulangerie, majoring on tin and frozen food with the only fresh items being those with a long shelf life. Thankfully we are well stocked with only the need for things like tomatoes and fresh milk, so we can wait.
The following day we continued on, passing a couple of potential stops that were full of boats and just as we were giving up hope of finding something suitable we passed through the lock at Sarrable and as the corner opened out, ahead of us was a quay about 250m long, with water and electric every 20m. It was beautifully landscaped and perfect for the dogs. We got the scooter off and Frank did a couple of fuel trips to top up the tank and the following morning we headed for the Super U to have a restock.
Around midday we continued along the canal, which is fairly non-descript at this point, and arrived at Sarreguemines late afternoon. There is plenty of room for visitors here, with two long quays provided for the transient community. Water and electric are available in abundance and we decided to stay for 2 nights so we could get some washing done. Early evening we took a walk into town and had a fab meal in a little Italian restaurant. The following day we moved from one quay to the other (the first being right next to a kiddies playground and the second being within the grounds of the private yacht club) so we could have a quieter stay and it was lovely all day.
That evening we had an even better meal in the Restaurant de la Casino, right next to the harbour, and settled down for what we thought would be a silent night. Unfortunately, at about 1am a group of youngsters turned up and sat on the slipway just behind the boat, playing music, shouting, laughing and generally making as much noise as they could, until 5am. Bang goes another theory!
I had a meeting at 9am, which I forgot until about 9:10 and it was only when I tuned in and saw my video image that I realised that not only did I feel like I hadn’t slept all night, I looked like I hadn’t too!!
After the meeting we moved on and entered a section of the canal where the German/French border runs down the middle. Not long, and you cross the German border once and for all. This is pretty rough area, with poverty hanging like a low mist. It is very industrial and the whole place has an air of menace about it. It is hard to describe, but you just feel uncomfortable. The only pleasure harbour we could see on the chart at Volklingen was full when we arrived so we had no choice but to carry on. On the other side of the river there was a public quay and we stopped there for another meeting I had a 4:30pm. By the time my meeting finished an hour later, Frank was decidedly unhappy about staying as he had watched one after the other local youngsters turn up and gather in groups. You definitely felt that if you turned your back on the boat they would strip it clean!
We moved on. Just before the large commercial lock at Lisdorf there is a long commercial quay, which looked pretty much abandoned. But its beauty for us lie in the fact it was completely secure. 250m of quay with massive security gates either end and security fencing all a round. At least we’ll get a good night’s sleep! We were also treated to a beautiful sunset, which enabled us to end the day on a high note.
The following day we continued down the Sarre and as each mile passed so the scenery became more picturesque. We started to see trip boats and hotel barges, which all helps you feel that you are back amongst civilisation! There is a particularly beautiful section near Dreisbach with steep forest covered hills lining the winding river.
Once through this section the vineyards begin and we know from our previous tip that they will continue to line the valley through the Moselle to Koblenz.
Our stop for the evening was just before the Serrig lock on another long bollarded quay at a place called Hamm. Again, a beautiful setting to enjoy a quiet evening.
This morning, as we were beginning our preparations to leave, two single stroke tugs boats flying huge Dutch flags emerged from the lock heading upstream. The sound of their engines as they passed by was just magical – what a start to the day!