Collision What Charter boat?
After a night on board at Port Cassafieres we set off for our first day on board Salsa 19 on the Canal du Midi.We were headed for our first stop at Colombiers., a journey of about 19km and just to the west of Beziers. Setting off early at 7 pm, not long after sunrise, we had a delightful meander down the canal in the early morning light.
During the course of the day we were to go through 9 locks. This included the 6 staircase lock set at Fonserannes that are encountered just as you leave Beziers. These six locks come after traversing the 198 meter long canal aqueduct over the River Orb. Looking back is a ‘postcard view’ of Beziers and the old cathedral high on the hill overlooking the river and canal.
We had a somewhat unexpected delay in passing through Beziers on our way to the Fonserannes locks. It seems that large steel hulled barge carrying 80 or so lunch time diners all eating and chatting on deck has a right of way over the smallish Salsa 19 carrying 4 Australians on a pleasant vacation on the Canal du Midi. Any way around a blind corner came this behemoth on the wrong side of the canal bearing down on us. Allthego was at the helm. And allthego he went in an effort to avoid any unpleasant consequences. Alas the result was a somewhat unpleasant and noisy ‘nose to nose’ engagement. There was much consternation on board the steel hulled barge. The captain of the said barge became most agitated and was using a range of french words which allthego and the crew of the Salsa 19 could not understand. All on board Salsa 19 remained calm and there were no injuries, a few disturbed looks on faces though and sucking in of breath. There was no damage to the steel hulled barge or its people. They were all still shouting at someone though, which was probably us! However, Salsa 19 incurred some damage to its fibre glass bow rails. We reported back to base and some technical people showed up after an hour or so and completed repairs so that we could continue the journey.
The ‘locking up’ through Fonserannes was hectic work. There were three boats in each of the locks with quite a deluge of water entering at the top. No mishaps though. Crowds of people lined the staircase watching the progress.
We then proceeded to Colombiers past some great countryside to settle in for the first night and await what the new day would bring.