The Savoyeux Tunnel

From Auxonne, with Bruce and Kathy aboard, we traveled upstream on the Petite Saone to the town of Gray.  This would be our longest river cruise during Bruce and Kathy’s stay at their home away from home; 27.8 nm with three locks.  Bruce and I began taking turns at the wheel.  Brian’s expertise guided us into and out from the narrow locks as we both began to get a feel for how Detour maneuvers in tight circumstances.  It became a game to see who could traverse a lock with “No touches!” of the sides of the boat along the lock walls.  Touches of fenders doesn’t count simply because the fenders actually protect the boat and there were, indeed, some fender-less touches to which we’d swipe our brows and respond, “It’s only the paint!”  Kathy was quite at home fixing us lunch, tidying the boat, and reading.  On the river, there were no weather worries and no rough seas just peaceful, beautiful scenery along the way.  She was enjoying her afternoon iced tea and lemonade combo (great idea of Bruce’s to make sun tea), chilled with an added bonus of actual ice cubes!  Kathy loved the refrigerator!   IMG_1012Waiting our turn, Bruce and Brian have a better look while a downstream motor yacht comes through the lock.IMG_1013 Kathy doesn’t miss any of the action when it’s locking time!IMG_1014 Everyone has a great view along the riverfront.IMG_6584At the town of Gray we found a wonderful quay-side to secure Detour.  The main event at Gray was Kathy’s tour of the Intermarche (Wal-Mart style supermarket) where we all marveled at the inexpensive prices of wine and then stocked up on aperitifs before settling back at the boat for the evening.

The following day brought us from Gray to Ray sur Saone; 21.6nm with three locks and one tunnel.  That’s correct, a T-U-N-N-E-L!!  We thought we had become quite the experts at those automatic locks, and then after exiting Ecluse #13 we were face to face with our very first tunnel.  IMG_6592 IMG_6595Naturally, Bruce and I both moved away from the steering wheel and placed the yacht back into Brian’s control.  Brian’s look of confidence (she said sarcastically, honestly look at that furrowed brow!) told us that he knew he was ready to master this with, “No touches!”IMG_6597And he did!  No touches, smooth sailing through 643 meters (0.399 miles) beneath the Savoyeux Tunnel with plenty of room to spare, at least a foot on each side!  Poor Detour, if she were personified, must wonder about her crazy new owners taking her underground rather than onto the open sea! IMG_6598 IMG_6605 IMG_6610

We had plenty of time for celebrating Brian’s successful tunnel steerage as we coasted along the Petite Saone continuing our route for the day.  That afternoon, the entrance channel to Ray sur Saone looked promising for two reasons.  Firstly; it was well marked.  The red and green markers were not only plentiful, but they were also topped with directional arrows!  Secondly; that stunning backdrop of a chateau atop the hill was actually a real-life chateau.  What a view from which to enjoy our evening aperitifs! The church steeple adorned with Burgundy tiling on the roof dome was also a pretty sight.  IMG_6615The mooring station, which I’d prefer to call a mini-dock, looked less promising.  We were fortunate that the boat docked prior to us came out to grab lines and also warned us of extended pilings beneath the water.  With a lot of bow thrusting, reversing, and fortunately a lot of pulling and pushing from our new neighbor, we were able to secure Detour at the mini-dock.  IMG_1017


  1. My stomach did flip flops when I saw the picture of the tunnel!! All I could think was, “Oh crap, oh crap, oh crap!” Glad it went well! Beautiful pictures . . . and especially great picture of Kathy in the tunnel!

  2. Inconceivable! A sailboat in a tunnel? I am perplexed. What a wonderful journey you are making. Detour looks magnificent, btw.

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