Sunday, August 5, 2007
Les Escluses, Castelnaudary
We paid a visit to the set of locks on the Canal du Midi just as you enter Castelnaudary from the south. It was a fairly hot day and we waited around in the shade for a boat to come up the canal and enter the locks. After 30 minutes, two boats came round the bend. The first was a small cabin cruiser, probably privately owned, definitely not a rental. The British skipper popped her into a spot in the lock and we all waited for the second boat. It was a rental outfit, skippered by a young German lad. We assume they were German, but they could have been Dutch, or possibly Danish, maybe even Norwegian, Swedish, Finnish or Icelandic. In any case, they were a little inexperienced.
A young man pedalled up on a bicycle, coming from the same direction as the rental boat. He was part of their crew, and he stood by to assist as the "Ventenac" came into the first of the four locks. We watched as the skipper, the other young lad, brought his boat into the lock. I thought it was a little too fast, and the skipper at times had his head out the sun roof and was steering with his feet. If you enlarge the picture where the name of the vessel, "Ventenac" is visible, you can see the crew's reactions as the pilot bumps the sides of the lock. This was after he nearly crunched the first boat, his bow to the other's stern, and was barely fended off by a couple of his crew. The British fellow, I'm sure, had visions of his boat sinking right there in the lock and got a bit excited. He notified the Germans of their upcoming transgression in time to avoid disaster.
Later in the next lock, the British skipper had his boat tossed around by the water flooding in, and being alone, was having trouble, but I thought, all in all, he was doing a superb job of handling his boat. His little craft did, however, harmlessly bump the Germans boat at one time. The Germans got a fair amount of satisfaction out of that and jeered the Brit, and it seemed to me it could have been handled in a little better humor. Perhaps it was their first day out because the ladies were awfully white, not yet burnt to a crisp, and their boat handling skills were not yet as refined as they should be.
It all brought back memories of our canal boat trip in 2004 and we decided we might like to do it again if we could muster a larger crew, a larger boat, and bring a few bicycles along. The larger crew would be handy getting through some of the locks, and help with entertainment; and the bicycles would help in getting some exercise as well as a great way to see the surrounding countryside.
(I apologize for the order of the photos. As hard as you try, on blogger.com, you can't ever get them in the order you want them in.)