Living large on a living barge–21: A six month per year barge tour of Europe, in installments

By Tom Miller

Tom and family are touring Europe by barge. This is the 18th in his series of reports on what is to be six months per year of cruising the waterways there.

Editors Note: Last week Tom sailed down task times; font-size: 16px;”>he Marne River

We have entered the summit pond with no locks for the next 30 kilometers.  The scenery is magnificent, and the weather is cooperating.  This is the kind of cruising that should be as relaxing as it gets, but it’s not.  The canal is incredibly narrow.   In fact, it is so narrow that it’s almost impossible to pass boats going the opposite direction, especially the rental boats.  Unfortunately it is easy tell a rental boat by the serpentine wake it leaves as it bounces from one side of the channel to the other.   Some of the turns on the canal are so tight we almost don’t fit, and of course there’s always a rental boat tied up in exactly the wrong spot.  Then there are the concrete abutments left over from the old bridges that Rabelo has to pass through.  They are only 5.2 meters apart and devilish to negotiate.  It’s been very windy the last few days, and Rabelo with her high sides acting like a sail becomes extremely difficult to drive, but how can I complain?  We are living our dream traveling the canals of France for six months.

We passed by a small village with a faire in progress in the middle of a field.  It must have been for farmers as every kind of tractor imaginable was on display. The MC wore a bright green hat, and the minute he saw Rabelo he started talking to us through his loudspeaker.  I didn’t catch a word he said as there was a commercial barge the size of Rabelo approaching us from the opposite direction.  Lisa said she thought he had invited us to join them.

The faire with plenty of tractors to see

With all the wind, the rental boats, and the narrow canal I was exhausted.   It was time to turn Rabelo over to Wilco.  After just one kilometer we entered a 1/2 kilometer tunnel, and right after that a 2.5 kilometer tunnel.  They were started in 1839 and completed in 1845. A few more kilometers and we came to the Saint-Louis Arzviller lift lock.  It was built in 1969 and replaced 17 locks. It is truly an engineering marvel.  We were whisked down over 150 feet in less than four minutes.  At the bottom of the lock we spent the night tied up next to a beautiful picnic ground.


The crowd watching Rabelo descend in the Arzviller lock

Come back next week for more Living Large on a Living Barge


 When Stones Speak by Tom Miller

When Stones Speak by Tom Miller

When Stones Speak by Tom Miller

Tom Miller is an adventure writer from Thousand Oaks. His latest novel When Stones Speak Dr. Hannigan sets out to find the historical Jesus of Nazareth, but he soon discovers there are people in high places who will stop at nothing including murder to insure he fails. Mr. Miller has been a contractor and developer, prolific diver, pilot, sailor, and barge captain. When he’s not chasing adrenalin overseas, he hikes with the local “Heartbreak Hiking Fools.” LIVING BARGE is his memory of his recent six month journey through the canals of Europe with his wife Lisa.


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