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, 2017 and 2018, returning to Roanne each winter.

Friday, 22 April 2016

17th - 21st April. Down the Méditerranée locks to Santanay, then on to Fragnes.

At lock 1 the mural on the control house fascinated Shannon. “ Are we going along that canal?”
St Julienne-sur-Dheune is a small village, with a small church too, but it was lovely inside. Every hour the church bell rang out, to tell us the time. A few seconds later it rang the hour again, in case we missed it the first time! At midnight this seemed like a lot of ringing! There was no sign of a second church anywhere in the village.
Assuming that the locks closed for lunch between 12 and 1, we set off to find a German couple already in the next lock with their cruiser, just before 1. They had entered the lock at 12.30 and pulled the blue control rope, which duly closed the top gates, allowed about a foot of water out, then stopped! Fortunately Mr Eclusier arrived, refilled the lock, and beckoned us in too. We continued on with them, the only delay being when we both had to pull in to allow this Hotel boat to pass us.
We went down 11 locks together to reach St Léger-sur-Dheune, another pleasant village. These are our first ducklings of the year, which came to greet us. They already knew all about boats being a good source of food!
Moving on we moored at Santenay, in the heart of a wine growing area. This pleasant mooring overlooks the Dheune valley, with Santenay village not too far away.

We found this little lizard sunning himself on the bench there. His fingers are extremely long!
The track to Santenay leads across the River Dheune, which is followed by the Canal du Centre as far as Chagny. There is a lot of water in the river, which does not bode well for our journey up the river Sâone later this week. Santenay has a large town square, with a fountain (dry at present).

The town is surrounded by vineyards. It is really surprising how small the vines are at this time of year, but they are just starting to grow new shoots. Some men were putting plastic sleeves on the smallest shoots, to protect them from frost.
On leaving Santenay the lockkeeper at the first lock wanted to know how far we were going today. "Until we see a nice grassy bank" does not go down too well! We compromised with "5 or perhaps 6 locks". In fact we went down 5 locks before stopping opposite this field of rape. The evening light really deepens its colour. Our eclusier arrived in his van to ask "You stay here tonight!", but seemed happy to leave us to it, with a promise that we would be at the next lock tomorrow morning at 10am.

At 9.45am this working barge, Kendall, came past extremely slowly. They are from Belgium, and are on their way to the south of France, but are suffering from lack of sufficient water for their barge. The locks on this canal are 38.5 metres long, and Kendall is 39 metres long! It was a slow morning, following them!
We arrived at Fragny on Thursday, and had it confirmed that, at present, the river Saône is closed to navigation. The water in the river is the highest that it has been since 2003. Hopefully we will be able to continue up the river from Chalon-sur-Saône to St-Jean-de-Losne, and join the Canal de Bourgogne within a few days.


  1. Can you get on the Saone yet? The Loire is still blocking our entrance to the Nivernais - we may have to change our plans

    1. We are still stuck at Fragnes. Hope that you can move soon.

  2. Yay!!! It let me publish. Now we have an internet signal again I'll check the bank account