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Report 717: Baise River Cruise

By AnG from New Zealand, Spring 2005

Trip Description: A Week on a “Locaboat” on the Canal Lateral a la Garonne and the Baise River, May 2005.

Destinations: Countries - France; Regions/Cities - Aquitaine

Categories: Boat (Canal/Sail); Foodie Trip; Sightseeing; Wine Trip; Independent Travel; 2 People

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Page 1 of 9: Day 1, Agen to Boe

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On Saturday, 21 May we arrived at Agen (prune country), stopping on the outskirts at an “Intermarch” supermarket to stock up on some basic food, wine, and housekeeping items, and drove to the Locaboat port to pick up our boat for a week on the Canal Lateral a la Garonne and the Baise River. We had come from a couple of days staying at a B&B in a fabulous castle, Chateau de Montalegre, near Millau where we viewed and drove over the amazing new Viaduct de Millau (2.5km long and tallest bridge in the world – newly opened Dec 2004). Really worth the visit. I digress.

We arrived at Locaboat about 2.30pm (ideally we should have been there at 2pm) and found one other couple completing the formalities of their boat hire. They were also from New Zealand and live within 5 kms of our home; it is a small world. They were being driven by car up the river to Valence sur Baise and only doing the trip one way (down the river), whereas we were doing an out and back trip from Agen up the Baise River as far as we had time for and then back to Agen. It took somewhat longer than planned to get the formalities over and done as we had to wait for an engineer to come and explain our boat (named Moncrabeau) and its controls to us, only to find that he had started working there the previous day and had limited knowledge about the boat, hence it was about 4.30 by the time we were ready to go. We were supplied with sheets and pillowslips, and pillows, duvets, etc. are all on board. The office also has a number of items that can be purchased if required and all at good prices (i.e., they had cotton gloves for handling ropes, dishwashing detergent, etc). They don’t normally supply towels but we were given a set when Annette requested them. We needed to supply soap, toilet paper, dishwashing detergent, tea towel, dish cloth, rubbish bags (we used supermarket bags), etc. The Locaboat staff didn’t think we would have enough time to clear the four locks immediately out of Agen before they closed at 7pm (in hindsight we would have had plenty of time) so we went east for about five kilometers and tied up at Boe for the night. There were only two other boats at Boe, which has berths for eight to 10 with water and power available. It was at this point that we had our first bit of excitement! The berths were floating ramps and I decided to back in beside one of them only to find that as soon as we went in reverse the stern immediately went to port (left) no matter where the wheel was turned!! I eventually gave up, did a full circle in the canal and went in forwards. After watching our antics, a woman on one of the boats already there, kindly came and took a rope and helped us alongside. That night we had a good thunderstorm, but felt very comfortable on board.

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