We are now on-board “Clipper 43” sur la Charente, which means on the Charente (river). I’ve slipped a few times and said dans la Charente, because you say dans rue X (in street X, literally, but it’s translated more like “on X street”). But if you say dans la Charente, you’re IN the river, when presumably you should be ON it, certainly if you’re on or in a boat. Love learning French! Here’s David within the first few minutes as captain, reasonably happy. Let’s see if I can navigate well enough for that to last.
We boarded our boat just past the weeping willow you see in the photo below, and received our mini-tutorial.
We couldn’t collect the boat until 4 p.m. so by the time we were under way the light was beautiful.
The first lock was a bit hair-raising, including an angry German man berating us for VERY lightly bumping his Le Boat rental with our Le Boat rental–like THAT’S never happened before–and then barking instructions at us–incorrect instructions, actually, that we were too flustered to refute. Whatever. It probably could have been avoided if he had pulled his boat up as far as he should have, to allow ample room for another boat, but I apologized and explained it was our first time. He said it was his, too, so I’ll give him the benefit of the doubt and attribute his rudeness to nerves, but we definitely decided NOT to share any more locks with them if it could be avoided. Sheesh. Hope he’s nicer to his family than he was to us!
David found us a perfect rural mooring on the left bank a bit before the next lock, and we tied up to some large trees where it was beautiful and quiet. Here’s who came to visit:
And dawn on the river was spectacular:
After a leisurely breakfast, we were on our way. The next lock already had a boat in it, so we were going to hang back but they motioned us in and turned out to be the friendliest, most helpful group imaginable. A completely different experience. We went through two locks together and chatted in French and English with zero stress. What a difference cheerful people make.
We enjoyed magical sights like this:
And ended up in the small village of Cognac, where not only cognac tasting is available, but also Pineau des Charentes, our favorite aperitif. We, of course, tasted.
So, a little more than 24 hours into our five-day river adventure, we’re content, sitting here sipping 25-year-old cognac and vowing to be friendly and helpful boaters, even when we’re vastly more experienced . . . four days from now.