07 June, 2011

Our first canal lock

Lock door we entered
The first challenge is always the hardest and the locks of the Rhone started with one of the largest locks. At Vallabregues where the lift from the lower reaches of the Rhone to the water above the lock is 12.7 meters.  Now that quite a jump even for a salmon swimming home to spawn but for Malua it was our first challenge.
Doors closing
Denny's heart going
Fortunately we were following a commercial barge who was about 20 minutes ahead of us.  As we came in sight of the massive weir and lock out came about five small vessels who had just been released down stream.  The lights turned green and the barge and us disappeared into this large dark chasm with wall 15 meters high.  Now you don’t have to secure your lines to the top of the wall because these ingenious French have developed a floating bollard set into the wall of the lock.  As the water raises so do you and the bollards – easy.  So secure Malua with lines from bow and stern to a single floating bollard, lots of fenders to keep you off the slimy green wall and you set to rise up.  Depth finder goes from 4 to 17 meters.
Out into the light
We where the only two vessels in the lock, the siren went off, the lights turned to red and the water started to well up in the lock.  We slowly started to rise up the side of the lock wall and into the sun light.  When you reach the top you can see out into the country side upstream of the weir.
Lock entrance
Off to Avignon and the city of the popes prior to the move to Rome.

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