Join us on our travels around Europe aboard our Dutch Tjalk Francoise

  • Jill Budd

    After 6 years aboard our Narrowboat Matilda Rose in the UK, we took the plunge and shipped her across to Europe. After 2 years in Europe we knew we didn't want to return to the UK so took the plunge and purchased a 1902 20 mtr Dutch Tjalk called Francoise and are now continuing our travels of the waterways of Europe in a buxom wench

  • January 2016
    M T W T F S S
  • Meta

Melay to Chambilly

Posted by contentedsouls on 19/01/2016

3 locks, 7kms

I set off in search of the Loire on Sunday under lowering skies. I didn’t find it.


I did find the most elaborate cow shed I’ve ever seen and more Storks though.

A knock on the boat early Monday morning revealed a VNF lady in a van who had come to confirm that we wanted locks 3, 4 and 5 operating at 11am. We were somewhat relieved to find that we had, finally, spoken to someone who was in a position to make this happen. We left at 10 which gave me a chance to get used to the time lapse on the wheel before the first lock! I find it quite strange that, in moments of pressure, I turned the wheel the wrong way – I wouldn’t do it in a car. The major differences (for me) are steering the front rather than the back, not being able to peek down the sides and remembering there is boat behind me – the latter is important as I don’t want to be bumping the back end and spilling my guests’ cocktails, that wouldn’t be good form. I settled down to it fairly quickly and was quite comfortable whilst manoeuvring nice and slowly (even G actually said I did well) but I find the slow steering response too daunting to manoeuvre at speed i.e. coming out of a lock fast to counteract the side stream waiting for me outside. I will get used to it but I would rather build confidence slowly than frighten myself – she’s quite skittish on the water (leeboards for my birthday?).

I’m stood on a small stool which gives me a good view of everything I can’t see – this is actually taken in the lock but you wouldn’t know that the lock was there!


We had a few VNF guys to help with the second lock and G had a good French natter. No need to get fed up hanging around when you’re indoors next to the radiator! On our own at the last lock G took some exercise and wound the other gate – no worries about getting him back on the boat as the lock isn’t a lot wider than us and, anyway, I have a twin speed girly button. We had hoped we might get water en route but VNF said it was all turned off until Digoin which is about 25 kms further down (and not guaranteed). We have used half of our water supply in just over a week.


Shortly after we moored at Chambilly (pronounced Shombee) it started to snow heavily, so we didn’t get a lot done. Some idiot (that would be me) suggested that we cycle into the nearby far distant town of Marcigny today – no electric cycle involved in this (the electric bike is on the other boat). Apart from a quick zoom up the tow path and back on the electric cycle I haven’t been on a bike in 46 years; it was wet, it was cold, it was hard. To cheer me up, I suggested we had lunch out – starter, main, cheese (normal or wet), pudding, coffee and 1/4 litre of wine each for 13 euros and it was really good; I swapped puddings with G as I thought his was even nicer than mine. The locals were really friendly too – we’ll go there again as we’ll be back and forth along here at least a couple more times. A brilliant day if I could have just walked home and not cycled – I did suggest pushing it home.


Not far from home I stopped and refused to cycle any further – given it was only 3 km each way I didn’t understand how it could be so destroyingly hard. I took photos of the Loire (which, I’m pleased to say, had reappeared after getting lost last Sunday) whilst G laughed good naturedly (ha bloody ha) at my discomfort – he then looked more closely at my bike and fiddled with something on the wheel, “you’re on the wrong cog” he said nonchalantly. “Whadya mean?”. “Nothing; it’s just the gearing is stuck on high”, “but the indicator shows …., “yeah, bikes can be funny like that”. I cycled the last 500 km home with comparitive ease.


With help from the dogs we put the bikes back on the front of the boat – which is exactly where mine will be staying for the foreseeable future!

P1130489 P1130487

I already hurt – the next two days are going to be a nightmare!

10 Responses to “Melay to Chambilly”

  1. ianmccauley2014 said

    Cycled ALL the way home – to the UK I gather 😎
    You’re lucky to have a husband who’ll give you his desert – not in our household! How much water is onboard? We have 2000 L and expect it will last us for a month, but I guess you Brits having a bath each night would reduce your range.
    Great read, as always.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. andywindy said

    I suppose that Saddle Sores are a good an excuse as any to be the one stood up practicing steering the Gin Palace, and of course then Graham won’t have to worry about you rolling on and of the Gunn’ls whilst tying up! I did wonder how you suddenly looked taller by the Wheel until I read the text, I can see how different it must be to be sailing Francoise as against MR. Now THAT’S going to seem strange in a short while then! Stood outside in the Cold rain and snow etc.


    • Sorry Ian – replied in wrong place!
      Decided not to correct the 500 kms as everyone knows I exaggerate a little bit! We think we have a 2000 litre tank but, even with alternate day shower rationing, it looks like it’s only going to last 2-2 1/12 weeks. We have a 600 litre tank on MR and that lasts us 2-2 1/2, so confused (this confusion happens often). I reckon you’re going to be a bit wiffy if you’re going to last a month ….. smell you at Briare then!!


    • As you’ll see in the next blog post Andy, that moment is getting closer – it’s going to be a terrible shock wrapping up in all those thermals again. Those saddle sores are no joke this morning. NEVER again.


  3. Kevin TOO said

    OK, there is no way I can let this pass without comment… 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Kevin TOO said

    BTW, can you post a picture of the stool you stand on to overcome the vertical height issue as I
    believe that a certain lady steerer in the UK might be needing to see over a steering wheel soon 😉 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • I think she might – it’s just a little plastic DIY job and it’s on the other boat. Well, I’m on the other boat now. Actually have a posh adjustable height Captains ‘bar stool’but I have a tendency to fall off of bar stools!

      Liked by 1 person

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