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Navigating and living on the waterways of Continental Europe and news of canal developments.
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TOPIC: Arras and the Scarpe Supériore

Arras and the Scarpe Supériore 05 Feb 2020 11:01 #113568

Good meeting in Arras yesterday with M Joosep of the CUA. Aside from discussing a possible rally at the end of May next year I have suggested the CUA draws on DBA advice as to some of the ongoing practicalities of access, mooring (including winter mooring), fees, instructions to skippers, lock bookings etc once navigation is restored, and that discussion might then dovetail into the dialogue about a rally.

As expected, there will be concern about protecting the precious birdlife along the Scarpe - it was a delight again yesterday to watch the Little Grebe in the bassin and we would need to be conscious that late May would be second-brood time so we would all be expected to keep to a strict 4kph limit. And as the bassin is used for recreational purposes and its source supplies the neighbouring water tower, there will be an absolute ban on blackwater discharge.

The ongoing discussion with CUA now passes back to the DBA team, good start I think.
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Arras and the Scarpe Supériore 30 Jan 2020 12:22 #113342

Thanks Lynn

Separate e-mails about to go to discuss how to meet with Mairie re services and fixing a 2021 Rally date.

Mike Gibbons
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Arras and the Scarpe Supériore 29 Jan 2020 12:41 #113309

Attached picture of the service point in Arras.

It's embedded in the surface quayside with cantilevered hinges and the tarmac surface embedded in its lid so it takes a bit of lifting and lowering! But that shouldn't worry boat crews as the plan seems to be for the CUA to turn out on request to raise it and then lower and re-secure at the end of the day. They also have a municipal engineering team who will attend out of hours - this picture was taken at 21:00 on Monday when they reported to re-set after tripping out. We meet the electrician on site again next week to see if that problem can be permanently solved.

If this facility is used by visiting boats in any numbers there are evidently going to be issues with very long lengths of extension cable needed. There seems to be a real will to make the port welcoming and to attract traffic - I gather this point cost 50K Euros - but maybe they could benefit by arranging a meeting with the DBA to help them work out what to do re safe routing of extension leads and other things. Suggestions welcome and I will pass them on but if there is to be a rally here next year I guess an on site gathering would be good.

You can see the water points - no tap as I gather the water flows as soon as the spring connection is made.

The quayside here is tarmac-surfaced waterside and then cobbled along the walkway, and I guess that is what has persuaded them to concentrate all the services in one housing rather than having to dig up the quay further back towards the lock.

Lynn
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Arras and the Scarpe Supériore 13 Jan 2020 09:41 #112887

Hi Andy and all

Yes - the publicity is just being prepared for the 2020 Rally so will be in Blue Flag, in the e-Newsletter, on the Events listings here on the website. It is at Pontoise, France from 29 May to 1 June.

Hope lots of people are interested and can be there. More soon!

Mike Gibbons
Chair

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Arras and the Scarpe Supériore 13 Jan 2020 08:52 #112884

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Mike Gibbons wrote: Thanks Bob for the timely advice.

The Board is keen to go for a Arras rally as a priority but our horizons are realistic in that recent rallies have been around 20 barges and we will be limiting numbers at Pontoise this year to fit onto the available moorings taking into account restrictions placed own us by VNF.

The same can apply in Arras so whilst it's good to be aware and to manage concerns, we will be guided by working as closely as we can with the Mairie etc. Very grateful to Lynn and the Backwaters team for all their efforts!

Cheers

Mike Gibbons
Chair

Mike
Can I assume from this the 2020 rally destination has now been decided, as I've not seen it anywhere as yet?
Andy

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Arras and the Scarpe Supériore 12 Jan 2020 21:33 #112881

Thanks Lynn

Being ahead is never a problem as far as I am concerned!

I'm e-mailing you......

Cheers

Mike

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Arras and the Scarpe Supériore 12 Jan 2020 20:43 #112879

We will never please everyone who lives around Arras bassin but experience so far is positive and we envisage offering some complimentary cruising if we can arrange to be in situ whilst a rally is under way. The main challenge for us is to establish rally dates far enough ahead to be sure we can be in town - we're already mapping out our programme for 2021.

Lynn

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Arras and the Scarpe Supériore 12 Jan 2020 16:09 #112873

Thanks Bob for the timely advice.

The Board is keen to go for a Arras rally as a priority but our horizons are realistic in that recent rallies have been around 20 barges and we will be limiting numbers at Pontoise this year to fit onto the available moorings taking into account restrictions placed own us by VNF.

The same can apply in Arras so whilst it's good to be aware and to manage concerns, we will be guided by working as closely as we can with the Mairie etc. Very grateful to Lynn and the Backwaters team for all their efforts!

Cheers

Mike Gibbons
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Arras and the Scarpe Supériore 11 Jan 2020 05:19 #112854

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Great news Lynn. Thank you. I hope the Christmas Market trips went well for Natalia.

You say:

"They are interested in hosting a future rally there but they are anxious about sustaining water level in the bassin if there are too many movements through the lock - the Scarpe of course feeds into the navigation below St-Nicolas lock and I gather that there's only a modest tributary that feeds the bassin itself. Bob might know more about that."

The river Crinchon approaches Arras from the south and used to feed into a dock that led off the main bassin, the Darse de Méulens, perpendicular to the Quai de Rivage. The Place de l'Ancien Rivage situated some hundred metres to the south of the Darse gives a hint of its erstwhile whereabouts. The Crinchon goes underground for quite a distance and I don't know exactly where it now enters the bassin. Clearly a much smaller waterway than the Scarpe but it managed to feed the Darse when it was operating commercially in days of yore.

The one saving grace, w.r.t. water is the fact the darse is a good depth of around 1.7 to 2.0 metres. I did a bathymetric survey using my ship's dinghy several years ago.

Pleased to read of CUA's interest in a DBA rally. If I may make an observation from my previous discussions on this subject, I believe I may have put them off hosting a rally by giving the Director of Tourism a copy of the Blue Flag that featured the Paris rally in Bassin de la Villette. There were upwards of fifty barges there and the photographs looked marvellous. I just wonder whether the residents in the smart apartments along the Quai de Rivage would welcome us if we are too numerous. I suggest we tread carefully

Good luck with your push to have the Scarpe Inférieure open to navigation. As you know the problem there is lift bridges that haven't moved for decades as well as heavy silting. It would be wonderful to be able to transit Douai that way as it would be to navigate the upper Somme. There is no doubt that the only way to get these "remainder" waterways open again is with the involvement of the local authorities, the Départements and the Regions. VNF will not be able to devote funds to re-open these waterways.

Best wishes,

Bob

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Arras and the Scarpe Supériore 09 Jan 2020 15:10 #112817

Many thanks for the update Lynn and the Backwaters team. Much appreciated!

Looking forward to a potential DBA rally there, maybe in 2021 if progress continues but I know that'll be for discussion locally later.

Mike Gibbons
Chair

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Arras and the Scarpe Supériore 09 Jan 2020 14:25 #112814

Latest from the CUA at Arras:

We are currently moored in the bassin by arrangement with the CUA but they are not quite ready yet to offer full access.

A service point has been installed at the far end of the bassin past the fountain. It's a substantial installation comprising 5 single-phase points and two 3-phase, plus water. It has a hatch cover which is secured overnight to prevent mischief. No decision yet on tariff or mooring fees but it's evident that they are serious about encouraging visitors. Unless more points are added we may find boats need some pretty long extension leads to reach the current installation - there may have to be a moor-abreast protocol.

The St-Nicolas lock is scheduled for further and more substantial maintenance over the next few weeks. The delay in full re-opening is attributed in part to the need to complete work on the lock, in part to the completion of dredging, and also to the need to properly review and decide regulational aspects such as signage. They are interested in hosting a future rally there but they are anxious about sustaining water level in the bassin if there are too many movements through the lock - the Scarpe of course feeds into the navigation below St-Nicolas lock and I gather that there's only a modest tributary that feeds the bassin itself. Bob might know more about that.

So all seems to be heading in the right direction if only slowly. We are also pressing for the reopening to navigation of the Scarpe Inferieure below Douai so that we can operate between Arras, St-Amand-les-Eaux, Mons and Strepy, but that's going to need a big political push. In the context of the wider regional awareness of waterways tourism stemming from the debate about the Ham section, it has a chance and we'll consider shoving.

Finally and as a bit of an opportunist Brexit-bashing observation, we are re-locating our award-winning UK business to Amiens and restructuring to become a French company. That should at least help us to promote waterways investment out of a local setting rather than as a UK entity.

Happy New Year all
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Arras and the Scarpe Supériore 30 Jun 2019 20:43 #107129

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Pat Blanchard wrote: I'm copying, with permission, a report from the Burgundy Loop yahoo group -
.
We have negotiated our way down the beautiful canal La Scarpe.

clip:

Use this canal otherwise it is sure to close. A quiet canal with many birds of all types.
.


Pat,

May I suggest you let your correspondent know the details Lynn posted. it may be too early for them but it's worth a try.

Cheers,

Bob

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Arras and the Scarpe Supériore 29 Jun 2019 13:27 #107076

I'm copying, with permission, a report from the Burgundy Loop yahoo group -
.
We have negotiated our way down the beautiful canal La Scarpe. We picked up a Telepromter from the ecluse Courchelettes and set off. Most of the early locks were super slow and needed VNF assistance so go armed with the correct phone numbers. It was a beautiful run down to Bianche Saint Vaast for the first pleasant night ( no elec) but Super U and Fuel 200 m.
We are now at base nautique de Saint Laurent Blangy K0 with power and water..
The Saint Nicolas basin is not operated by VNF and doesn’t appear to be available at present. Very pleasant spot with nature and children learning aquatic skills in the extensive boating park.
There is a bus to Arras centre ville and back with food shops (Lidl) nearby..
We are off to Vimy Ridge in the morning then Wellington memorial.

Use this canal otherwise it is sure to close. A quiet canal with many birds of all types.
.

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Arras and the Scarpe Supériore 02 Jun 2019 08:54 #106203

Hello All,
We overwintered Beatrix (18.5m) at St Laurent Blangy, which is an excellent mooring. Thierry and the team at La Base Nautique couldn’t be nicer or more helpful. T: +33 3 21 73 74 93 M: +33 6 70 75 97 51. - might be useful if you don’t want to stay or can’t get in the Arras basin.
In the end we decided not to go up into Arras to turn around, but we had watched the tour barge Natalia go through. Her skipper Peter said that 0.9 draft should be ok, but that you had to watch the channel depth in places. The “Éclusier” from la Communauté Urbaine told us just to phone 24 hrs ahead to book lock times. (Essentially we didn’t want to put them to too much trouble just for the sake of going there.) The Basin would be a lovely place to moor especially with company - for security - and certainly les Arragoises were excited at the prospect of Barges returning to the city.
We felt very lucky to have stumbled on Arras / St Laurent for the winter. Incidentally the river at St Laurent-Blangy never freezes as it’s warmed by springs! Simon & Judy - Beatrix

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Arras and the Scarpe Supériore 01 Jun 2019 15:13 #106174

Answering Colin's request, the best contact for now seems to be...

This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

François BEIRNAERT
Chargé de mission Tourisme
Direction du Développement Economique
Communauté Urbaine d’Arras
La Citadelle - 146 allée du Bastion de la Reine
CS 10345 - 62026 ARRAS CEDEX
Tél. 03 21 21 04 73 - Port. Pro. 06 87 18 08 79
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Arras and the Scarpe Supériore 01 Jun 2019 09:53 #106168

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Lynn Woods wrote: I gather the CUA in Arras isn't quite ready for unrestricted opening into the bassin. Still some works they want to do at St Nicolas lock. I suspect as much as anything it's that they haven't got themselves organised to communicate with skippers. There's no backtracking as we are being welcomed back in December. I'll update the knowledgebase as and when it's properly open.


Disappointing news, Lynn, but, I have to say, not surprising. I sincerely hope your belief that CUA are not backtracking is true and that our barges may enter the bassin this season.

We will all look forward to an update here when you have further information.

Best wishes,

Bob

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Arras and the Scarpe Supériore 01 Jun 2019 08:20 #106164

Lynn,
I saw you moored there in April. I was planning to visit Arras later in summer, possibly with Charles Fitzhardinge, barge Anna Maria. Thought it might be useful to have 2 to deal with shallow patches!
In the meantime, who should we email to give plenty of notice to?

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Arras and the Scarpe Supériore 01 Jun 2019 06:25 #106160

I gather the CUA in Arras isn't quite ready for unrestricted opening into the bassin. Still some works they want to do at St Nicolas lock. I suspect as much as anything it's that they haven't got themselves organised to communicate with skippers. There's no backtracking as we are being welcomed back in December. I'll update the knowledgebase as and when it's properly open.

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Arras and the Scarpe Supériore 30 Apr 2019 14:05 #105398

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Lynn Woods wrote: We're off the Scarpe now heading for Yonne but back in Arras to try some short breaks combined with the Arras Christmas Market.

We got a very warm reception in Arras not least from the townspeople and there were families bringing their kids to see a boat in the bassin for the first time!

We will try to gather some contact and times info for the knowledgebase.

I gather there is a brief VNF outage this week at one of the locks below Biache St-Vaast but it shouldn't be long.

VNF registered only 14 boat movements on the Scarpe Superieure last year so it's to be hoped that by opening up the bassin they will get more traffic.

And the birdlife on this bit of waterway is remarkable, including coots in vast numbers and plenty of small brown-headed grebe, plus great crested grebe with young and of course nightingales in full voice.


Many thanks for the update, Lynn.

I hope many members will venture up the Scarpe Supériore and stay in the Darse de Méaulens in the heart of Arras this season, now access has been secured. Please will members who do this post under this topic their experiences.

Best wishes,

Bob

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Arras and the Scarpe Supériore 30 Apr 2019 13:14 #105391

We're off the Scarpe now heading for Yonne but back in Arras to try some short breaks combined with the Arras Christmas Market.

We got a very warm reception in Arras not least from the townspeople and there were families bringing their kids to see a boat in the bassin for the first time!

We will try to gather some contact and times info for the knowledgebase.

I gather there is a brief VNF outage this week at one of the locks below Biache St-Vaast but it shouldn't be long.

VNF registered only 14 boat movements on the Scarpe Superieure last year so it's to be hoped that by opening up the bassin they will get more traffic.

And the birdlife on this bit of waterway is remarkable, including coots in vast numbers and plenty of small brown-headed grebe, plus great crested grebe with young and of course nightingales in full voice.

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Arras and the Scarpe Supériore 20 Apr 2019 13:04 #105210

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A few days ago I posted here two photographs of pages of the newspaper La Voix du Nord which featured the first barge for decades to gain entry to the Arras bassin, La Darse Méaulens, and moor on the Quai du Rivage. Thinking there are many members who would not be able to read the French text, I keyed the article, word by word, into my computer and, with the considerable help of Google translate, made my attempt at a translation.

When I came to post this alongside my original post, mysteriously, it seems to have disappeared. At least, I cannot find it!

So, here are the pix again and below is the French text followed by my translation into English. Hope I haven’t made too many mistakes!!!

Best wishes,

Bob





Original text:

ARRAS. Redonner un élan touristique aux berges de la darse Méaulens, c'est le part de Backwaters. Mardi, la société britanoque, spécialisée dans les croisières fluviale, a présenté Natalia. Une péniche hybrid amarrée au Quai du Rivage. Depuis quelques jours, elle donne le sourire aux plus anciens du quatier. "Ca fait longetemps qu'on n'en a pas vu, ca fait plaisir", dit une sexagénaire en passant devant l'embarcation. Et si tout se passe bien, les riverains devraient en voir régulièrement, des péniches. Le projet de Craig Jenner, directeurdes opérations chez Backwaters, est de redonner vie aux berges. Des séjours entre deux à huit jours séront proposés. La cible? En grande partie, les touristes anglais, " on est dans une période difficile avec Brexit. Ce qu'on veut, c'est ramener cette clientelle en France, et notamment dans la région, vu la proximité" dit Craig Jenner. Le concept est: un car, un bateau, un hotel. Les touristes arrivent en car, montent sur le Natalia, ont un buffet froid le midi, une excursion dans l'après-midi et une nuit à l'hôtel. Des trajets entre Arras et Biache-Saint-Vaast sont notamment étudiés. "Si tout functionne comme on le voudrais, ces croisières pouraient entre 1 et 1,5 million d'euros à l'économie locale" Craig Jenner s'intéresse aussi au marché de Noël d'Arras qui devient "incontournable dans la région" Le tourisme fluviale d'hiver n'est pas une utopie pour lui. D'autant que "le port d'Arras pourait étreun magnifique port d'attache en cette saison" Proposant à Frédéric Leturque d'étudier cette idée. "Vous pouriez mettre trente bateaux et ca raporte de l'argent" Le maire s'est dit très content de l'intérét porté par cette socièté aux rivages d'Arras. "On se bat pour redonner un avenir au Val de Scarpe. On voit comment on peut étirer la nature autour de l'eau" L'arrive de cette péniche a éte possible car la communauté urbane d'Arras a réalisé le dragage de cette partie de la Scarpe.

UNE PENICHE EN MODE ECOLO
Lynn Wood, le PDG de Backwaters: "une volonte personelle à faire de l'écologie" selon Craig Jenner. Ainsi, à bord, il y a une charte à respecter. Le tri par example est obligatoire. ... aux panneaux, pendant 95% de la navigation, on a 0% d'emmission". Le directeur des opérations dit que " c'est important pour l'avenir et pour nos infants."

HISTOIRE DE FAMILLE

Le Natalia à Arras, c'est une histoire de famille. Craig Jenner n'a pas hésité à sortir son père, 67 ans, de la retraite pour le nommer capitaine du bateau.
Et China, sa mère, 61 ans, nallait pas rester à quai. Elle est responsable de l'interieur. Elle accuelle et préparer les buffets, "En dehors du bateau, c'est moi le patron. Mais à l'interieur, c'est mon père le capitaine et moi son matelot".

ORIGINAIRES DE GRANDE-BRETAGNE

Ce sont les parents qui ont la navigation dans la peau. Originaires de Grande-Bretagne, ils décident dans les années 90 de changer de vie, de proposer autre chose à leurs enfants. "On a traversé la Manche et on est venus s'installer à Auxerre, sur notre péniche"
Le couple a cu une péniche hôtel durant vingt-cinque ans. Haut de gamme. Six clients max. quatre personnes d'équipage.


Translation into English:

ARRAS. To restore a tourist impetus to the banks of the Méaulens docks, is the ambition of Backwaters. Tuesday, the British company, specializing in river cruises, presented Natalia. A hybrid barge moored at Quai du Rivage. For a few days, she has been giving a smile to the oldest of the neighborhood. "It's been a long time since we have seen one, it's a pleasure," said a sexagenarian while passing the boat. And if all goes well, the residents should regularly see barges here. Craig Jenner's project, director of operations at Backwaters, is reviving the shoreline. Stays between two to eight days will be proposed. Target? Mostly, English tourists, “We are in a difficult period with Brexit. What we want is to bring these clients to France, especially to this region, given the proximity," said Craig Jenner. The concept is: a coach, a boat, a hotel. Tourists arrive by coach, embark on Natalia, have a cold buffet lunch, an afternoon excursion and a night at the hotel. Trips between Arras and Biache-Saint-Vaast are planned. "If everything works as we would like, these cruises could bring between 1 and 1.5 million euros to the local economy" Craig Jenner is also interested in the Christmas market of Arras which is “a must in the region". Fluvial winter tourism is not a utopia for him. Especially since "the port of Arras could be a magnificent port of registry in that season" Proposing Frédéric Leturque to study this idea. "You could put thirty boats here and it brings in money" The mayor said he was very happy about the interest this company has in the quays of Arras. "We are fighting to give Val de Scarpe a future, we can see how we can stretch nature around the water" The arrival of this passenger boat was possible because the urban community of Arras dredged this part of the Scarpe.

A PENICHE IN ECO MODE
Lynn Wood, CEO of Backwaters has: "A personal commitment to ecology" according to Craig Jenner. So, on board, there is a charter to respect. Sorting and re-cycling for example is mandatory, during 95% of navigation, we have 0% emmission. The director of operations says that: "it is important for the future and for our children".

HISTORY OF FAMILY

Natalia in Arras is a family story. Craig Jenner did not hesitate to take his father, 67, out of retirement to name him captain of the boat.
And China, his 61-year-old mother, was not going to stay on the dock. She is responsible for the interior. She welcomes guests and prepares the buffets, "Outside the boat, I'm the boss, but on board, it's my father, the captain and I am his crew".

ORIGINS IN GREAT BRITAIN

It is the parents who have navigation in their bones. Originally from Britain, they decided in the 90s to change their life, to offer something else to their children. "We crossed the Channel and we moved to Auxerre, on our barge, or péniche"
The couple had a péniche hôtel for twenty-five years. Top of the line. Six customers max. Four crew members.
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Arras and the Scarpe Supériore 19 Apr 2019 20:28 #105194

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Sorry Simon. I was quoting your other barge, Luca, when I answered your message which mentioned your barge Beatrix. Guess I should read what I am posting a little more carefully rather than checking in the Barge Registry.

Cheers,

Bob

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Arras and the Scarpe Supériore 18 Apr 2019 18:50 #105171

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Simon Lawson wrote: About 0.85 Bob, and a bit more for the rudder.


Well, in your shoes, Simon, I would have a go but go gently on the approach to the lock. Excuse me but I have to say it is your decision and I can only say what I, personally, might do but not recommend anything for anyone else.

Good luck and please post here your experiences.

Bob

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Arras and the Scarpe Supériore 18 Apr 2019 15:36 #105169

About 0.85 Bob, and a bit more for the rudder.

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Arras and the Scarpe Supériore 18 Apr 2019 15:15 #105167

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Simon Lawson wrote: Congrats Lynn and everybody else that has helped this happen.
Judy and I hope to join you in Arras basin, in a couple of weeks, when we plan to bring Beatrix up from St.Laurent Blangy, if only to turn round before continuing our voyage.
Simon


Hello Simon,

What draft is Luca?

Bob

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Arras and the Scarpe Supériore 18 Apr 2019 12:39 #105163

Congrats Lynn and everybody else that has helped this happen.
Judy and I hope to join you in Arras basin, in a couple of weeks, when we plan to bring Beatrix up from St.Laurent Blangy, if only to turn round before continuing our voyage.
Simon

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Arras and the Scarpe Supériore 18 Apr 2019 12:32 #105162

What excellent news - thank you Lynn for all your efforts!

Having been sent by Bob Marsland to take pictures of the empty basin last summer it's splendid to see it in use again as it is such a good mooring in a wonderful location. Glad that the lock is navigable if under temporary repair. It might have taken a lot of effort but we have to thank the local organisations for finally getting it back into boating use.

Mike Gibbons
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Arras and the Scarpe Supériore 09 Apr 2019 14:12 #104915

I'm not on board atm but crew feedback on various aspects...

Don't join the Scarpe Superieure without first obtaining a zapper from the lock at Courchelettes. Doubtless it says that somewhere and anyway it's not too far to walk back from Corbehem to Courchelettes so no big deal.

The lock ladders are all slime-coated and very dangerous - a particular issue for us as we can't get at the recessed bollards in the chamber itself . It's been taken up with VNF. To give them their due, VNF helped us yesterday by providing an agent to stay with us.

There were a couple of places where we stirred up the mud, one spot on a bend looked like incomplete dredging, the other would be where the Scarpe feeds in much as Bob has cautioned. As we are only 0.7 draft that underlines the need for ongoing maintenance.

The proposed footbridge above St-Nicolas lock will be a swing bridge and there will be an agent to operate both bridge and lock. That agent will also presumably be available to support traffic through the lock at St-Laurent-Blagny if needed. Below St-Laurent VNF remain responsible. It remains the plan to close St-Nicolas lock for a month next year to change the lock gates. They've been patched up for now hence the works going on when we came through yesterday. This is all just about completed so the waterway is effectively open.

The CUA and Tourism Office are now very much onside with the development of the bassin for boat traffic. Service points are planned and we have encouraged them to think about making the bassin available for winter mooring, both to generate revenue and encourage more visitors who might not otherwise venture on to the Scarpe. Even without finger pontoons there looks to be space for as many as 30 boats.

Thanks for all the kind comments but my appreciation goes to Bob for all the work to represent and alert us via this and past threads. We were fortunate to come on scene at the right time to tip the local argument in our favour. Now it's on to Lens, Bethune and Calais!

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Arras and the Scarpe Supériore 09 Apr 2019 08:14 #104899

Just brilliant Lynn. Well done. We will try and get there this summer.

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Arras and the Scarpe Supériore 09 Apr 2019 00:23 #104893

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Lynn Woods wrote: Pleased to say we are moored tonight in Arras bassin and will be thereabouts for a few weeks before we head for Paris then Auxerre. There is still some work going on at the St Nicolas lock so access is either early or late while the crane is stowed, will find out more over the next few days.


Lynn,

I'm thrilled to bits to read this. Well done with all the negotiations you have engaged in with the tourism departments as well as with VNF (I presume!)

How did you get on transiting the bief immediately below l'écluse de St Nicolas, where the river Scarpe enters?

We look forward to hearing more, in particularly about access for vessels other than your Natalia.

Very best wishes,

Bob

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Arras and the Scarpe Supériore 08 Apr 2019 23:42 #104892

Lynn Woods wrote: Pleased to say we are moored tonight in Arras bassin


That is great news Lynn! Please update the Waterways Guide so we can encourage many more to visit and justify the work they have done.

Ian

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Arras and the Scarpe Supériore 08 Apr 2019 22:49 #104889

Pleased to say we are moored tonight in Arras bassin and will be thereabouts for a few weeks before we head for Paris then Auxerre. There is still some work going on at the St Nicolas lock so access is either early or late while the crane is stowed, will find out more over the next few days.
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Arras and the Scarpe Supériore 05 Feb 2019 16:22 #103720

Will do Bob. And thanks yes she is beautiful - That superstructure was made in 1958 we think, when being converted from freight to leisure. Welders' jaws drop in admiration of those curves!

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Arras and the Scarpe Supériore 05 Feb 2019 15:42 #103719

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Simon Lawson wrote: Let's see what the progress is by April when we plan to leave for Belgium and then La Meuse south back into France. We would love to go up to the basin for a couple of nights to say good bye to Arras mates.


Indeed, Simon.

Please get in touch, here or to my email, nearer the time you plan to leave the area and when the dredging will have been completed. We should know more from Lynn and his team about access to Darse Méaulins, above l'écluse de Saint Nicolas by then.

If I may say so, I think Beatrix's beautifully curved superstructure marries the shape of your skutsje admirably.

Best wishes,

Bob

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Arras and the Scarpe Supériore 05 Feb 2019 13:04 #103713

Bob, « ...If you are staying in Saint Laurent Blangy for a while maybe you can see if you may navigate the pound they are dredging at the moment some time later. If you are interested I would welcome an email (click on my envelope on the left here) and we can see if there is any mileage in that. I have a few contacts in VNF who might help »
Let's see what the progress is by April when we plan to leave for Belgium and then La Meuse south back into France. We would love to go up to the basin for a couple of nights to say good bye to Arras mates.

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Arras and the Scarpe Supériore 05 Feb 2019 12:49 #103710

Simon Lawson wrote: We are currently moored at Saint Laurent Blangy.

It was probably some 15 years ago when we were last on the Scarpe Supérieure, and that time we were up on the commercial wharf a few hundred metres above the lock. It's quite a distance to decent shops, but there is a farm close by where you can get fresh-from-the-cow milk in the afternoon before it's sent off to the dairy. Hopefully it's still there.

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Arras and the Scarpe Supériore 04 Feb 2019 21:02 #103682

Briliant news, we visited there a couple of years ago and were struck by the waste of a potentially superb mooring. Well done and l look forward to visiting there by barge.

P.........

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P...........

Arras and the Scarpe Supériore 04 Feb 2019 20:31 #103681

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Lynn Woods wrote: Good timing, my colleague Craig Jenner met with a group representing the various Arras agencies just this afternoon.

The situation seems to be:

The bassin will be re-opened and their only anxiety is to guard against boats being moored there unattended, so presumably some maximum stay period.

The canal will be dredged to minimum 1.5m

The lock is to be re-opened but will be out of action for a month during 2020 for the gates to be replaced.

The proposed bridge above the lock will be either a lift-bridge or swing-bridge to permit boats to pass.

They will look at installing water and 3-phase electricity for our (passenger) boat and not clear yet whether there will be general-use facilities.

I reckon they were heeding your advice Bob but not letting on! Some of these developments seem to have been in planning for a while. Good news, whatever.

Lynn


I'm thrilled to bits to read this, Lynn, and to read Simon and Judy's post, too.

Well done to you and your team for persevering against all odds. I would like to think there is something in what you write at the end of your post but whatever - this is good, no *excellent* news. I'm now sorry I have my barge several hundred miles away in the middle of the Netherlands!!!

Best wishes,

Bob

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Arras and the Scarpe Supériore 04 Feb 2019 20:23 #103680

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Simon Lawson wrote: We are currently moored at Saint Laurent Blangy, and can confirm that the pound between St Laurent and St Nicholas is currently being dredged. The tow path has also been resurfaced since October. The works notice board indicates that the refurbishment should be finished by March.
The Arras basin has great potential for culture, commerce and accommodation, which would be a welcome addition, for locals and visitors alike, to this beautiful friendly city, that we’re coming to love.
Simon & Judy - Beatrix.


Great to hear, Simon and Judy! But, there's always a but, VNF are required to periodically dredge here for hydraulic reasons. It is imperative the flow of the Scarpe, which enters immediately below l'écluse de Saint Nicolas, is maintained as the river feeds the Canal du Nord.

Notwithstanding that 'but', this, and Lynn's news, is excellent. Thank you.

If you are staying in Saint Laurent Blangy for a while maybe you can see if you may navigate the pound they are dredging at the moment some time later. If you are interested I would welcome an email (click on my envelope on the left here) and we can see if there is any mileage in that. I have a few contacts in VNF who might help.

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Arras and the Scarpe Supériore 04 Feb 2019 19:42 #103679

Good timing, my colleague Craig Jenner met with a group representing the various Arras agencies just this afternoon.

The situation seems to be:

The bassin will be re-opened and their only anxiety is to guard against boats being moored there unattended, so presumably some maximum stay period.

The canal will be dredged to minimum 1.5m

The lock is to be re-opened but will be out of action for a month during 2020 for the gates to be replaced.

The proposed bridge above the lock will be either a lift-bridge or swing-bridge to permit boats to pass.

They will look at installing water and 3-phase electricity for our (passenger) boat and not clear yet whether there will be general-use facilities.

I reckon they were heeding your advice Bob but not letting on! Some of these developments seem to have been in planning for a while. Good news, whatever.

Lynn

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Arras and the Scarpe Supériore 04 Feb 2019 19:00 #103677

Brilliant news. Hopefully can visit later in the year.

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Arras and the Scarpe Supériore 04 Feb 2019 18:59 #103676

We are currently moored at Saint Laurent Blangy, and can confirm that the pound between St Laurent and St Nicholas is currently being dredged. The tow path has also been resurfaced since October. The works notice board indicates that the refurbishment should be finished by March.
The Arras basin has great potential for culture, commerce and accommodation, which would be a welcome addition, for locals and visitors alike, to this beautiful friendly city, that we’re coming to love.
Simon & Judy - Beatrix.
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Arras and the Scarpe Supériore 29 Jan 2019 07:48 #103490

Lynn,

Possibly too early to say great news until an "opening date" is announced, but really encouraging progress. I would agree - 1.50 m - if you can get that.
Thanks for your efforts.
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Arras and the Scarpe Supériore 29 Jan 2019 01:11 #103489

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Lynn Woods wrote: We meet them again this week and amongst other things have on agenda shore facilities in the bassin - presumably it's been inaccessible for so long now that anything fitted in support of visiting boats in the past will have become derelict? Is there a view please on minimum dredged draught that we should ask them to aim for to serve the pleasure cruising community? We'll be requesting 3-phase!

TIA

Lynn


Lynn et al,

In the eleven or so years I have been looking into gaining access to Darse de Méaulens there has never been any utilities available. There used to be a number of floating pontoons at the far end from the entrance to the port but they have been removed and the parallel pontoon, to which the six pontoons were secured has been re-positioned at the end adjacent to the entrance.

Once you have achieved agreement to access the port you should not have too much trouble getting EDF to install a supply. I managed to do that in Epernay, or rather Magenta on the other side of the bridge, which is where we turned around on our Champagne Experience cruise.

Several years ago I did a bathymetric survey of the port and found it to have 1m70 along most of the banks and only the occasional area to be avoided, mainly due to there being fountains installed there. The canal between l'écluse de Saint Nicolas and the port had between 1m70 and 2m.00. Below the lock is a different matter and that will need dredging before access to the lock can be achieved. It will also need dredging on a regular basis due to the incoming stream of the river Scarpe which enters there at right angles to the waterway.

Several years ago VNF decided to dredge to just 1m50 and this immediately stopped all commercial carrying operations to and from the long quai between l'écluse de Saint Nicolas and l'écluse de Saint Laurent Blangy. The silo had ceased operating by water years ago.

So, I suggest 1m50 would be as far as you might achieve, provided CUA agreed to do *any* dredging.

Best wishes,

Bob
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Arras and the Scarpe Supériore 29 Jan 2019 00:11 #103486

I'm sitting here looking at my photos of the basin after Bob Marsland asked me to go and look last Spring, I don't see any services at all plus my pics of the lock suggest a good overhaul necessary.......
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Arras and the Scarpe Supériore 28 Jan 2019 22:30 #103485

We meet them again this week and amongst other things have on agenda shore facilities in the bassin - presumably it's been inaccessible for so long now that anything fitted in support of visiting boats in the past will have become derelict? Is there a view please on minimum dredged draught that we should ask them to aim for to serve the pleasure cruising community? We'll be requesting 3-phase!

TIA

Lynn

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Arras and the Scarpe Supériore 17 Jan 2019 21:42 #103312

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Goodness knows what happened to my post made on my iPhone on the train home an hour or so ago! But here is what I think I said:

Well done, Lynn! It seems you have succeeded where I failed over a period of of more than ten years. I am really pleased for you and possibly for other boats in the future.

The problem you will find, though, is the section of the bief immediately below l'écluse Saint Nicolas where the river joins the canal and drops lots of sediment. If I am not mistaken the draft of your ship is only 80cm and I guess that will be the maximum the CUA will allow. However, let us wait and see what comes of your negotiations.

Good luck.

Bob
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Arras and the Scarpe Supériore 17 Jan 2019 19:48 #103306

Encouraging news. The CU - Communauté Urbaine - have been in touch to say they think they can engineer a solution which would allow us to embark and disembark passengers in the Arras Bassin. That must in turn mean that they would have to maintain the St Nicolas lock and not obstruct the waterway with any overly low bridges, but we don't know yet what this means in terms of access and facilities for private craft. We should learn more on meeting the CU in a couple of weeks time.

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Arras and the Scarpe Supériore 28 Oct 2018 08:14 #102125

Lynn, Very best of luck. I battered my barge against the Arras issue in Spring 2012 when the bief had been closed for the French Olympic rowing and canoeing teams for their training. Fat lot of good it did them.
Then the French promised the closure was temporary and I had a copy of the letter, and the canal would be available post Olympics.
We're still waiting!!!

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Arras and the Scarpe Supériore 28 Oct 2018 02:08 #102124

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Lynn Woods wrote: Somme Tourisme are going out of their way to support our commercial cruise and tour initiative with a dedicated boat planned for 2020 in Hauts de France and some proof-of-concept tours running between Abbeville and St-Quentin (via the Canal de la Sensee) in March and April. Local press coverage only last week.

I have already tooted at them about getting the Ham section of the Canal de la Somme reopened (well, don't ask, don't get) and I'll flag our concerns about Arras too. Each of my boats brings c1.5m Euros into the local economy each year.

Lynn


Pleased to hear you are being well received by Tourism Somme. I wish you the very best.

Concerning getting to Arras I regret to say you will have to use your coach for the last few kilometres. As I'm sure you will have read, I have been trying for over a decade to gain entry to the wonderful bassin right in the centre of Arras with no success. The Arras local authority now have control of the last sector and are not inclined to help craft get to their city. By all means try them and I wish you well. If you have any further information please post here.

Best wishes,

Bob

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Arras and the Scarpe Supériore 27 Oct 2018 21:54 #102122

Somme Tourisme are going out of their way to support our commercial cruise and tour initiative with a dedicated boat planned for 2020 in Hauts de France and some proof-of-concept tours running between Abbeville and St-Quentin (via the Canal de la Sensee) in March and April. Local press coverage only last week.

I have already tooted at them about getting the Ham section of the Canal de la Somme reopened (well, don't ask, don't get) and I'll flag our concerns about Arras too. Each of my boats brings c1.5m Euros into the local economy each year.

Lynn
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Arras and the Scarpe Supériore 21 Sep 2018 10:48 #101282

Very sorry to hear this Bob, you have worked so hard on this for such a long time.
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Arras and the Scarpe Supériore 20 Sep 2018 23:43 #101270

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I have just returned to La Chouette from attending the User Group Meeting (Commission Locale des Usagers) of VNF Nord Pas-de-Calais in Lille.

I am disappointed to have to report that the meeting was informed that responsibility for the upper reaches of the Scarpe Supérieure has been ceded to the local authority of Arras, the Communauté Urbane d'Arras, (CUA). This confirms what I was told verbally in July. The CUA are proposing to close, definitively, the final lock, l'écluse de Saint Nicolas, and place a bridge across at near water level to enable local residents to cross in safety.

Subsequent to my protestations back in July, VNF did ask CUA to install a moveable bridge so as to enable the "possibility" for boats to use the écluse de Saint Nicolas to gain access to the bassin in the centre of Arras. CUA declined.

I expressed my deep disappointment to the meeting as I had been trying to enable boats to get to Arras since 2009. VNF, however, now have no authority over that sector.

I hereby throw in the towel.

Bob
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Arras and the Scarpe Supériore 06 Jul 2018 14:28 #99673

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Tim Hackett wrote: Is it worth garnering support from LVBHB for an objection? Their members also cruise France. Perhaps ask Petra Spithost who is a DBA member and on the board of LVBHB. It all helps.


Good suggestion, Tim, but I would rather wait until I get a reply to my email to my contact asking for chapter and verse. At the moment I have nothing more than a conversation. I haven't seen an avis à la batellerie on this issue. If anyone has do please let me know.

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Bob

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Arras and the Scarpe Supériore 06 Jul 2018 14:09 #99672

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Paul Facer wrote: " an unofficial?? policy that favoured closure or non-repair when structures suffered problems."

Lets see what happens to the Canal de Ardennes Tam, I don't hold out much hope as it has already been suggested that it may not be reopened.

Any thoughts on that Bob?


My reading of the avis à la batellerie is more optimistic. I recommend you to read it along with the Arrêté attached to it and issued by the Préfet des Ardennes.

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It's clearly going to take time but it reads as if they *do* plan to repair l'eecluse Neuville-Day.

Interestingly, they are about to start dredging the canal in the bief No. 7 de Seuill, albeit some way from the flight of locks which is now closed from La Chesne to Semuy.

Optimistically,

Bob

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Arras and the Scarpe Supériore 04 Jul 2018 09:44 #99642

" an unofficial?? policy that favoured closure or non-repair when structures suffered problems."

Lets see what happens to the Canal de Ardennes Tam, I don't hold out much hope as it has already been suggested that it may not be reopened.

Any thoughts on that Bob?

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Arras and the Scarpe Supériore 03 Jul 2018 13:33 #99632

Is it worth garnering support from LVBHB for an objection? Their members also cruise France. Perhaps ask Petra Spithost who is a DBA member and on the board of LVBHB. It all helps.

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Arras and the Scarpe Supériore 01 Jul 2018 17:58 #99600

Only Friday we had an "heated discussion" with someone who works for a local hire firm. We said that the long term future of the French canal network was sorely at risk, quoting instances where the only local interest (if any) was to close them to through traffic to allow village festivities/swimming matches and so on, and an unofficial?? policy that favoured closure or non-repair when structures suffered problems.
He rejected this totally, but sadly the Arras affair only reaffirms the points Di and I were making. Hire companies only have a vested interest in the canals within a week or so cruising distance of their base of course, and I can't think of any group(s) other than ANPEI and (hopefully) DBA that would make objections to the closure of St Nicholas.

Tam

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Arras and the Scarpe Supériore 01 Jul 2018 13:46 #99595

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First the good news:

Weed cutting and removal (Travaux de faucardage) is, and will be, taking place on the upper section of the Scarpe Supériore according to these avis à la batellerie:

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Now the bad news:

One of my contacts in Lille (VNF Nord-Pas-de-Calais) has told me that the Arras local authority has taken over responsibility for the very section that is detailed above. Interesting, isn't it? Well, they did it a few years ago in order to allow the French canoeists to train for the 2012 Olympics. Then handed it back to VNF when their training didn't do any good. Perhaps I shouldn't say that.

Well, the Really Bad News is they are planning to close, definitively, l'écluse de Saint Nicolas. it is said for safety reasons. This is the last lock on the waterway which gives, or would give, access to the delightful Bassin which I and other DBA members have worked to gain access to for over ten years. This is disappointing, to say the least.

Bob

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