The blog of HarryWS and my yacht Malua. We sailed Australia, the Pacific, Europe, Caribbean and USA. I built Malua in Canberra then cruised the Pacific through New Zealand, Tonga, Fiji and Vanuatu during 2004. Malua was in the Mediterranean in 2007 at the start of a cruise westwards round the world. After a trip up the French canals we crossed the Atlantic, cruised the Caribbean including Cuba. From the east coast of USA through the Panama canal to Galapagos then the wide Pacific to Australia.
Everything is ready, the long To Do list is much shorter, things are on board and Malua is looking good. The crew arrived from Paris after a great flight and two days seeing the sights of the great city, so now it is time to set off on the great expedition into the unknown. Why the unknown you ask? Many have travel this way before. Oh yes but not with the draft of Malua. She was built for the southern oceans – strong and sturdy without consideration for weight or how deep she would sit in the water. I have already raised the boot strap (waterline strip for my non nautical friend) 100mm after the cruise in the Pacific so that the antifouling was not below the waterline. It didn’t change the draft but it looked better.
We carry extra equipment (propeller included) just in case we need to replace a broken part. This is all well and good but not an asset in the shallow canals of France where the charted depth is less than 1.8 meters. The Rhone river has a depth of 3.5m so we don’t have a problem if we stick to the channel. The Seine from Paris has an equal depth. It is just the canals in between that is the challenge and the unknown. We have many choices, some are definitely too shallow but the Canal entre Champagne et Bourgogne states that it is 2.2m deep. So Malua’s 2.1m we should have 100mm free below the keel to get through.
Arles- first bridge
After leaving Port Napoleon we sailed or rather motored round to the dock in Port St Louis de Rhone to take on last minute supplies and to spend the night. The alarm clock went off at 5:30 for the 6:00am opening of the lock. I had been practicing all night ” Malua veut bien le passage de l’ecluse” only to get a response from the lockkeeper “Malua are you leaving the sea and entering the Rhone?”
Malua tied up alongside
The lights turned from Red Green to Green – the road bridge went up and we where off into the lock. Came along side and secured in the placid waters of our first lock to the bollard. Answered a few questions in English from the lock keeper and the lock gates opened into the mighty Rhone and we were off.
After four hour of a steady pace up the wide river, well marked with red and green channel markers and kilometre marks we approached Arles – our first nights stop. Along side a restaurant. The expedition has begun and the unknown lies below.