Just catching up on my email and received this from my friend Captain Wayne Beardsley - a short video from his recent trip to the Burgundy region of France along the Seille River.
These are self- captained barge style boats that are easy to navigate and control having 40 hp engines and bow thrusters to aid in positioning while docking or using the river locks. They aren't hard to control at all as they have a really slow hull speed at 4-5 knots (about 5 mph +/- 1) and hydraulic steering makes it all a breeze. The other boat in the video is one from the same company heading back up river.
The company who rents these boats is called Le Boat (what else would they call it?). The boat they rented was the Tango model.
One of the interesting comments Captain Beardsley mentioned was the river lock system. Apparently there are three styles of locks - fully manual/self operated; unattended automatic locks; and the more typical operated by a lock keeper.
I found the description of the automatic locks really interesting. "The way it works is a blue pole is suspended over the water from an overhead cable. If the lock is closed with a red signal light, the procedure is to approach the pole slowly and for someone on the boat to give the pole a half twist activating a switch causing the lower gate to close, and the lock to start a refill cycle. Meanwhile the light signal turns to both red and green with a flashing strobe. After the lock fills, the upper gate opens, the signal light turns green, and all of the boats enter that can fit in. When everyone has their lines secure, someone activates another blue pole along the side of the lock which closes the upper gate and starts the lowering sequence."
Wayne said that the manual/self-operated locks took a little getting used to. While they operated all the same way, the instructions written in French were a tad "terse" as he put it. He went through this type of lock with a couple of more experienced boats to get the procedure down then off they went on their own.
It sounds like a great trip as there were a lot of medieval towns along the route and, as Wayne put it, great food and great wine.
They finished off the trip in Monaco at the Monaco Boat Show which, just from looking at the exhibitors on the show site, must have been something to see. Use the search, select the brokers and charters selection under the activity sector tab and check out some of the boats.