These are the adventures of Andy and Sally Rawnsley on their narrowboat "The Puzzler". We have been living on the boat for over nine years now and are still loving it. Our Ulster born Shih Tzu, Shannon, has grown up, and has taken over the boat! After three wonderful years in Ireland, we transported The Puzzler to The Netherlands, and spent a year there. In 2015 we went southwards, to reach the north of France by June. After glorious weather throughout the summer, we arrived in Roanne in late October, and enjoyed our winter in this friendly port. We cruised extensively in France in 2016 and 2017, returning to Roanne each winter.

Tuesday, 27 October 2015

22nd - 26th October. Engine problems on the Canal Latéral à la Loire, then deep locks on the Canal de Roanne à Digoin.

While moving on towards the end of the Canal Latéral à la Loire, the engine started screaming, so we stopped in the middle of the canal! The alternator belt pulley had fallen off, to land under the engine, so Andy replaced the alternator with our spare one, and we were off again. We had informed the next lockkeeper of our problems, and he had been to see that we were OK, which was nice of him. Just when we were ready to set off, two boats came past us, so we expected to have to wait at the lock until they had gone. However, our lockkeeper beckoned us in as well, saying “ Peut-etre, peut-etre pas!” We managed to fit all three boats in, moving forward as we rose in the lock, so as not to be caught under the walkway on the bottom gates.

Here The Puzzler has turned right at the junction from the Canal Latéral à la Loire, on to the Canal de Roanne à Digoin. The junction is near to Digoin, so we are now on the last part of our journey to Roanne, our winter mooring. This canal is described as “l'atout des voies Françaises”, which translates as “the trump of the French waterways”.

This canal was upgraded to Freycinet standard gauge in the late nineteenth century, and some of the locks were combined then. This lock, Chassenard number 8, has a rise of six metres.

This is when a long rope at the bows is essential!
Continuing beside the river Loire, our next lock is even deeper at 7.19 metres. To enter the lock we pass under a solid metal framework, which holds the lock walls safely apart.

The valley of the river Loire stretches away to our left. Here the river is nearer to the canal, but it meanders to and fro across the valley.

There are still many charolais in the fields here, with this fine bull looking very calm today.

Some trees are still green, while others brighten the canal with autumn colours. Our flowers on The Puzzler are still blooming too, later than in any other year.

The leaves, however pretty, create a problem for the lockkeepers. Our engine isn't too keen on them either!

Wild moorings can be found all along this lovely canal. Tomorrow we will reach Roanne.

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