Middle of nowhere – Cry-sur-Armancon, and the Italian Rope-Coilers

Our last full day on the canal would certainly be an eventful one. Allessandro would meet a few lock doors up close and personal, a delightful local meal of steak tartar, crab, wine and proper steak and an Italian rope coiling nightmare that would bring excitement for us and adrenaline rushes for others…

We woke up slowly, and headed out even slower. Stoic Allessandro will never be known for outright pace, with a top speed of around 8km/h.  At one set of locks, Christine and I decided to take a jog from one lock to the next, a distance of around two kilometres. ‘Clicks’ as Leslie was fond of saying. The only clicking was the sound of our knees and ankles at that point, and even so, we managed to out-pace Chris and Leslie on the boat, easily getting to the next lock ahead of them, with time to catch out breath, only to lose it again, winding the lock open and shut.

At this point of the canal, lock-keepers we doing double duty on more than one lock at a time, quickly shuttling up and down alongside the canal on their scooters on gravel roads, meaning we had several cases were we were locked and loaded and ready to go and merely waited for the lock-keeper to pitch up with the right lever for the sluice or whatever. With Allessandro’s startling lack of pace, this was of little concern – we weren’t going anywhere fast anyway.

All during this day, we traded places on the canal and in lock with an Italian couple with little clue about barging. Early in the day, they followed us into a lock with the bow ropes neatly coiled up with their hosepipe. The universal hand gesture of ‘throw the rope to me’ was met with blank stares and hurried hosepipe uncoiling from the rope. By the time the rope was around the bollard at the lock edge, the lock was half full. Later on, their bow would swing wildly to port (see how nautical we were becoming?) and the crash into the side of the lock was closely followed by screams of surprise from all passengers. These were closely followed by cries of concern, encouragement, anger and dismay – only the Italians are capable of this, anyone else attempting all these emotions at once simply sound deranged. Anyway, it spiced things up a bit and entertained us greatly.

     Aperture: ƒ/9 Camera: Canon EOS 5D Mark III Focal length: 50mm ISO: 100 Shutter speed: 1/250s
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