Wednesday, 26 May 2010

From Arleux to Peronne via Canal du Nord and Ruyaulcourt Tunnel

Friday 10th June 2005

The alarm went off at 6.30am this morning, I thought we were on holiday!!! We were just waking up when we heard the first barge start its engine - Karl jumped out of bed, I've never seen him move so quick.

A man on one of the barges 'Odysseus' waved us into the lock in front of him, and as it happens we stayed with this barge going through the locks and tunnel for the rest of the day, he was a Dutchman who spoke very good english.  The dutch gentleman and his wife lived onboard their barge and he explained to us that he took his holidays in England on the canals!  It was it his wife who did all of the driving, on some of the locks he had just 3" clearance on each side, he directed her into the locks using a walkie talkie with him at the front of the boat - how she did it, I'll never know! 

Entrance to Ruyaulcourt Tunnel
Ruyaulcourt Tunnel- light at the end of the tunnel!

We had read alot about the Ruyaulcourt Tunnel which is around 4.5 km long with a 1km passing point in the middle.  Luckily for us, our friendly bargeman waved us ahead, effectively queue jumping, but as we were able to travel faster than the barges (still within the speed limits) we were not going to hold them up.  The tunnel is lit and when you enter you can just about see the end.
 We had no problems at all with the tunnel, it is traffic light controlled so no worries about meeting a barge coming the other way, the headroom is 3.7m which for most pleasure craft does not pose a problem and the depth was around 2.2m.  There is a path that runs along the inside which the attendent uses to nip back and forth on a moped to make sure the traffic is flowing smoothly, it is also fitted out with CCTV cameras.  

It took around 45 minutes to make the passage and it was nice to get back out into the sunshine againAs I mentioned previously, you can see the daylight at the end of tunnel when you enter - but it does seem to take a long time to get to it!

We stopped at a mooring shown in the Navicarte book at a place called Port Peronne, this was just one long floating pontoon alongside a touring/camp site which was just off the main river.
We were able to get a berth with water and electricity and although there were a few permanent moorers, I think we were the only visitors on the pontoon. The office staff were very friendly and we were given the use of the site facilities if we wanted them, toilets, showers, launderette and bar. We were also able to order bread and croissants to be collected in the morning. After eating onboard the boat we decided to put our laundry in the washing machines and go for a few drinks in the bar while we waited - mmm, not so. At just 8pm the bar had closed and the whole campsite was deserted, Friday night and not a soul around !!

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