Entering the Canal de la Somme

Museum barge

We made it to Arleux for the afternoon of the second day and tied up with the commercials at the junction to the Canal de Nord. Arleux is the home of Garlic and sure enough, every other shop in the town centre was a ‘gallery' of garlic with lots of varieties and hanging bunches of smoked garlic. When walking back to the boat we saw this Freycinet size barge, sitting in a garden and housing a boat museum.


Then south along the canal de Nord we had to pass through a 4km tunnel. This was a first for us and the whole event was a strange but smooth steam through the semi darkness. A green light announced that it was safe to enter; the signs say that there is a minimum speed limit of 3km/hr and not to go outside the boat.


The tunnel entrance disappearing behind us with strip lights on the ceiling, the sides were protected by smooth fendering, which meant you could stop steering and let the boat slip along the narrow channel. Steering without touching the fendering would be very difficult.


This is the middle section which is wide enough for boats to pass, the exit is visible as a bright dot over 2 km ahead of us.

Lorna driving

Here is Lorna steering towards the ever brightening exit.


After stopping the night in Moislains we set off down a series of locks with only 1 or 2 km between them. Whoever you get through the first lock with, you tend to stay with through the rest. Here is ‘Waterdog' sharing a deep, rain soaked, lock with a 50m barge called ‘Relicat'.


Soon after our 5th lock that day there was a sharp and shallow turn to starboard off the ‘Canal de Nord' and into the ‘Canal de Somme'. The trees here were well into their autumn colours and the whole show was beautiful.

Lifting bridge

On this canal you have to telephone for a man to come and operate the bridge or lock, he will then drive ahead and prepare the next lock or bridge all day until you stop. He isn't always dedicated to you so there might be some waiting period but it seems to be a good system. Here is the lift bridge through Fevilleres with not much width to spare, the operators orange car is parked to the side.

Walnut tree

We had to sign papers to say that we accepted that Waterdog drew more depth than the canal at 1.2m (Waterdog's draft is 1.3m). This had us worried until we cleared up that this was mainly a summer problem and there were only a few shallow bits anyway. They were basically just covering there derriers. Here we are moored under a walnut tree for a night in Frise.


In Cappy there was a fleet of hire boats called Penichettes which were hired out by ‘Locaboat'. They look really nice useful boats even though they were plastic, they looked pretty strong and were surrounded with rubber fendering.


Cappy on a calm misty morning, the fog rolling in from astern and clear ahead and above. This was the second place in France that we had to pay for a mooring. The first night was free and then €10 a night with electricity. We stopped for 3 days so we were on electricity and could do some jobs and top up the batteries.