Heidi and Kev are wowed by the amazing scenery as they continue their journey along the Seine on their Sealine C330

Words Heidi Hasler

Day 6

We carry on up the Seine, with beautiful calm waters, tide against us as we are going up stream. The properties along the river banks are stunning so there is plenty to look at while traveling along.

We have only seen a few large commercial ships so far which is breaking us in nicely. What you do need to be careful of, and to watch out for, is debris in the water. There are logs and large objects on a regular basis.

Today saw our first lock! We were happily waiting for a barge to come out and he was gesturing madly for us to move over as we had a barge coming up behind us.

One of many stunning properties on the banks of the Seine

They have priority but we knew this and gave way. We thought that we would have to wait for the next opening, when the very nice lock master raised us over the VHF to get us in. As we approached, the space looked very small but we did manage to squeeze in with space at both ends.

I had forgotten how slimy the locks are! I had put my gloves on as I knew I would have to let ropes slide or pull hard on them and I was glad I had them as they took most of the vulgar, smelly slime!

The next nervous moment was the commercial ship starting up with us aft of it. The power from his engines and turbulence from the propellers is a little unnerving and I was glad to have put lots of fenders out as they were needed. Once he was out, we got our little green light and we were off! Just a few more miles to our night stop…

Chilaxin squeezes into a lock with some commercial shipping

More beautiful houses and views, two large piers (that used to hold a railway bridge) and we were turning right into a quiet, disused quarry that is now Port Venables. On Wednesdays, the office is closed so don’t bother trying to call for a berth, just head in and Pascale will assist you with checking in.

We paid €18 for the night including water, electricity and showers. The whole place is very quiet and a bit of a nature reserve – no noise whatsoever!

There are a couple of villages near by but no local stores or bars. We will have to wait until tomorrow, at Port Ilon, for any extras that we need as well as topping up with fuel (just to make sure!)

Tonight Kev has cooked dinner – pork steaks, new potatoes, egg fried rice and salad. All good after a long day! At least on the waterways it is easy to make cups of tea and lunch enroute, something that has been difficult at sea over the past few days. I think I will sleep well tonight! It’s so peaceful just watching the wildlife in these beautiful surroundings.

Day 7

Yet another beautiful day!

The scenery is stunning and life seems so good… until we get a vibration in what seems to be the port engine. Not what we need so early into our trip.

We stop and drift in the river and lift the port prop to see if anything is wrapped around… nothing! We re-start the engine. The river is empty and flat so we decide to give her a quick blast for a few minutes see if that makes a difference.

It feels extremely naughty but seems to do the trick. We also notice that the part of the river that we are in has a strong under current. This is something we will monitor for the coming few hours.

We face two locks today and the first one isn’t too bad. We are on our own, which is a bit daunting as the wash of the water coming in is at such a rate with no other boats to soften the blow.

Heidi gets to grips with the locks

I hang on tight and try to hold the boat as Kev uses the bowthruster to keep her nose in and stop the back end from hitting the lock. Needless to say our lines are now green and stinking!

As soon as we leave the lock the vibration we had been experiencing stops. This confirms to us that it is the current and Chilaxin has a smooth ride for the rest of the day.

Lock number two (mericourt), just before our evening stop, is evil! The sides are concertinaed and mean that, although I have seven fenders on the side, some are missing the lock wall and going in the gap.

As if it’s not hard enough holding the boat, the cleats on Chilaxin, though they look extremely smart, aren’t quite wide enough so I have to use my foot to keep the line in place while continually moving fenders as best I can. To say I was glad to get out of that one is an understatement!

Chilaxin in Port Ilon

Literally straight from the lock we turned left towards the weir and Port Ilon is on the right.

We are treated to a a very beautiful setting again. Masses of wildlife and fantastic services with really friendly port managers. Ann and Bruno were very welcoming. We asked about the shop and was told that it is 3km away but they have bikes that we can use should we wish.

I’ve not been on a bike for a couple of years and neither has Kev. These were two beaten up mountain bikes. Mine had a slightly flat front tyre and Kev’s a buckled back wheel, but they were good enough to go up the road.

Port Ilon is in part of a national park and everywhere you turn it is beautiful. I stopped to take a photo of poppies in a field just before the village.

Supplies from the local shop are pricey

Guernes is a lovely and very attractive village with a small school, church and cemetery. The shop has a good stock of supplies but, as the nearest shop is over 10 miles away, it has very high prices. Mind you everything in France seems to be a expensive – including fuel at around £1.60 a litre.

We head back with our bag of goodies and €34 less in our pockets for bread, milk, some meat and cheese. We settle down with a beer and a family of Canadian geese come over to have a nose followed by a beautiful swan who was a little too friendly!

Next, we see another Sealine coming across the water We passed them earlier in the day, when they were moored at Vernon (another stunning town). They aim at the pontoon that we are on, which is also the fuel quay.

We help them moor up alongside ours and we meet Pete and Carol – another pair of Brits! They are from MDL Chatham, so we have lots to talk about. Discussing the places that they have stayed at in the past three weeks we discover that they are going at a slower pace than us and only as far as Paris.

The local wildlife takes an interest in the new arrivals

Peter and Carol have lots of sailing experience and have only had their Sealine, which they love, for three years. I have a nose around their boat and they have a good look around a moor modern (Hanse) version. We all agree that we have wonderful boats and are very lucky to be enjoying such wonderful scenery and experiences.

A bottle of gin later and it’s time to have supper  (Kev cooks up a mean beef pasta) and then get ready for an early night. Tomorrow, Peter and Carol have said that they will come with us to the next stop at Cergy, which is a sister port to Port Ilon.

Only one lock tomorrow, which us ladies are pleased about. We also get our first visitor on the trip – Katy, my step daughter. She will be flying in from Exeter to Paris and then train and taxi to Cergy. We will then all travel into Paris for the weekend and celebrate her birthday together.

Day 8

We wake up to wildlife is awakening and an eerie mist drifting over the water, though it promises be another hot day. After fueling again (150 litres), we head off alone as the other Sealine is making the most of the washing machine before heading out!

We get back on to the Seine and I start to make breakfast. French bread always dries out quickly so French toast it is! Absolutely the perfect way to start the day.

After a quick tidy up  I’m told that there are Pirates! On the plotter we have the Black Pearl coming straight towards us – I did look out for Jack but, with the new tinted windows, it was hard to see him – but he did wave! We have an uneventful day and a few locks, which we navigate with ease, and head on towards Cergy.

We head off the Seine and up the Oise River towards the Port of Cergy. We see the pretty tower before the entrance to the harbour. We swing into the entrance (as we have a large barge on our backside) and start to sweat as the marina is very full and looks like it is going to be very tight!

We hear a whistle and the Capitinaire is on the bridge pointing beyond him. We do as we are told, slowly, and with me running around the deck from side-to-side to make sure we do not hit any other boats as it is really close! We get put alongside another boat which has not moved in a long time.

The bustling marina at Port Clergy

We get settled in and look around at an amazing marina, surrounded by restaurants and bars. This will make a nice change from the past few days. Within minutes Kev’s daughter Katy arrives.

Once all settled in, a quick beer, and we head out to the other Sealine, which has now arrived and moored up outside as they where just too big to get in. It starts to rain! No problem though, the temperature drop is a bit of a relief to be honest.

While chilling and reflecting on the day the heavens open big time We decide to head out for dinner and get as far as the English bar, which wasn’t our first choice  but we decide to have drinks first and will then move on.

However, the heavens have now decided they are going to completely dump down on Port Cergy! We are not going anywhere for a moment so we decide to have food here and although not a fantastic menu it will do as it’s getting late and we are very tired.

Thirty minutes later the largest burgers arrive but we all struggle to finish the meals! The cost is painful at €40 a head for a burger and two drinks… Ouch!

We head back to the boats in torrential rain, thunder and lightning and to our beds drifting off into a peaceful sleep, knowing that tomorrow we get to Paris!

Next Chilaxin arrives in Paris