Day 65. Agde. Tactical Talk


Abemama is gale bound in the Canal du Midi…… believe it! The current berth is at the Round Lock at Agde, just 2 miles from The Med. When the present NW 7 (Tramontane) blows itself out, we can slip down the short exit canal into the River Herault and 3 miles of open sea for masting at the well organised Cap d’Agde marina, where we shall join the grockles, who come white and soon turn pink, for a couple of amusing days of siesta peace and 9pm bedlam, as all the Edith Piaff sing-alikes strike up in the cafes. We also have a mammoth boat cleaning task to complete.

Today, we got the tactics right. The 7 locks of Beziers can be a big hold up. Last August, we counted 42 boats waiting to go down on Saturday morning ( Change over day) At 0750, they all slipped their warps, determined to be the first boat into the lock at 0800. It was not just diesel smoke turning the air blue… but that was August.

This morning, we left Capestang at 0700 and hit Beziers at 0900. The overnight waiters had gone down and we had the whole flight to ourselves.

We have been asked about canal places to stop en route to The Med. A big problem is Bordeaux where, in spite of recently published info, it is now almost impossible to stop. The Halte Nautique is closed and patrolled by a security mastiff and a gorilla in combat fatigues. There is a club pontoon opposite at Lormont, where they are generous and helpful, when they have room. A new pontoon harbour is being built 5 km above the city at Begles, where there is also a crowded cafe pontoon. If you lock into the Bassin a Flot, you can only come out at half tide, thereby losing enough push to get to Castets en Dorthe ( where there are also berthing problems) so the best plan is to miss Bdx and head for one of the up river places.

Yachts coming through are usually more interested in deep water quays, drinking water, fuel, launderettes etc than in tourist sites …. which are well documented in the canal route map. If anybody is making the transit in 2001, let us have your copy of the guide book in Spring and we’ll mark up the things above and where there are pontoons and ladders inside the locks…. so you can drop off your crew, if he/she misses at the entrance.

This is important because – again contrary to recently published advice – it is both completely illegal and totally impossible to work the ‘up’ locks without having a crew member ashore. This is not difficult to do. Best advice is the heed the PBO ‘But Can She Cook’ correspendence and have both of you able to manoeuvre the boat. The canals then become a pussy cat adventure. We are already looking forward to our return run in a couple of months from now.