Cruas has a lot to see…A nice castle and medieval village, lovely views over the hills and a hidden island underwater.  We spent a bit too much time at the underwater island the other day…

We drove into a nice marina in a little place called Cruas the other evening in the dark, being very careful to avoid the relevant bollards and bouys.  It was all very nice and we even spotted one of these…maybe…We didn’t take this photo though.  It was dark and we didn’t have a camera on us at the time.

Was it a beaver or was it a coypu?

The next morning we did an early start to get to Avignon by dusk…or so we thought.  The engine was started and casting off went well.  We left only 5 minutes before we had intended which was a bit of a result.  Having talked through the leaving bit the night before we head off with the advice from our previous conversation still fresh…”Just make sure you keep the bouy to your right and stay to the left of the big red pole”.  Ok, sorted so out we went.

So, we followed the plan avoiding the yellow bouy (keeping it firmly to the right) and stayed to the right of the big pole and headed at an angle towards the channel.  The depth seemed quite low but remembering that it had been quite shallow on the way in it was not a worry.
Suddenly….BANG (The kind of metalic bang that makes you feel a bit sick), big lurch forward and then whoosh as we turn swiftly, heeling over to the right.  ‘This is not good’ I am thinking.  I actually thought the boat was going to roll over and we would lose the mast and ourselves into the river which was running pretty fast, taking two of our petrol cans away with it.  The boat was now heeling such that the white toe-rail was nearly touching the water! I climbed over to rescue our last remaining petrol can except for the one attached to the motor (which thankfully I’d refilled before leaving).  Not that the motor was going to get much use that day after all.

boat on side

So now we’re stuck and looking like there’s no immediate chance of being able to drive off whatever we just hit and the current is pinning us there.  The others checked for water and thankfully there was none visible inside the boat or out of the bilge pump so we were hopeful that the situation couldn’t get much worse by the boat threatening to sink or anything so what now?!  Our world had been shifted and it was a bit confusing.

The leaning tower

By some miracle, a man was sat at the entrance of the harbour fishing and probably saw it all.  By now we had resorted to the foghorn SOS blasts because we mistakenly thought there was a barge or small boat coming up the channel.  Turned out it was a pontoon where they shoot ducks from but you can really easily convince yourself otherwise when you’re stuck in a river.  Fortunately he had phoned for help for us and fairly shortly afterwards we saw a car with flashing lights and a man shouting something incomprehensible in French at us.  I tried waving the radio at him but we were probably too far away for him to see it and we didn’t really know the correct radio frequency to use on inland water.

Nice place for grounding

Though I didn’t see it, apparently half of the left-hand side of the boat’s contents flew onto the floor on impact so we spent a while picking all that up and putting it out of the way.

So eventually we see a boat being launched from Cruas marina and it turns out to be the Pompiers (French firemen) who tried their hardest to help us move the boat but are not allowed to tow people because of insurance…I couldn’t believe it when they said that.  They did however offer to dive in the icy water to check what damage we had and how we were stuck so that was useful and revealed that there wasn’t a whopping big hole in the boat.  One of them (who apparently was half man, half bear on account of his strength we were later to find out) even rescued a rope and some other random stuff (including a chunk of paint –ouch!) we had lost overboard so that was good.

The pompiers diving to assess damage

After they’d checked for damage they helped us lay an anchor to try and winch us off and back into some free water.  This was tried several times with varying amounts of bombing up and down to create waves in their boat before finally realising that this was not going to work and that we would probably have to wait for a tow.  Clearly wanting to help, they even had a go at pushing us in a last ditch attempt but that didn’t work either.  I must admit it was quite fun driving around with them in their boat acting as French speaking translator to the boat but the novelty wore off when I realised this was probably not going to work.

Trying to haul off the island via anchor and waves

Earlier, I had been taken round to the captain of the port on his boat had told me that they could give me a couple of numbers of people who “might” be able to help us that evening or the next day…”Might” is not what you want to hear when something like this happens but we had no choice.  Not being all that sure whether they were actually going to help us the next day (having originally thought they’d said someone would help at midday the same day) we were a tad worried…it all became a bit clearer later.

I rang about a million people trying to find someone to tow us away sooner than tomorrow but noone could help…The prospect of staying on the boat tilted far over for the rest of the day and the night in the hope that someone “might” help us at midday the next day was a bit stressful.  We rang one of the numbers, a Mr Reynaud who said “there is no pilot for the boat today” and that “someone will be with you tomorrow between 12 and 2”.  This was established after rather too many phone-calls to him and doubting my french another phonecall from Pete’s French friend just to make sure it was actually happening…

We saw the day and evening pass by with views of the power station.

Cruas power station

The night was not nice…we had to keep watches just in case by some miracle we got free and floated away.  The person on watch had to sit on a seat sloping the wrong way so you had to wedge yourself against the table for an hour and a half at a time.  We were also concerned that the wind might increase or it might start raining and make the water level in the river rise.

At about 12.10 the next day halfway through eating someone arrived, including Mr Pompier from the day before 🙂 yay.  To cut a long story short they tugged us off the thing after several attempts and more sickening bangs and scrapings and then through some more clear water followed by another bang and scrape and oooh dear, this is worse than the first time (well not quite) They towed us to the marina through the way we’d come when we’d arrived..  Incidentally it turned out that was not the correct way so we were very lucky not to hit anything on the way in.

When we got back and found out that our rescuers did it all voluntarily, that we were one of about 10 boats a year that have done that and that they didn’t expect any money for helping us.

Spent a really nice half day going “phew…” exploring Cruas and eating in the campsite restaurant where we were the only people there and our dinner was ready and waiting for us on the table having booked in a few hours before.

Chris in Cruas medieval town

Where's Pete?

View over Cruas

We then made the day trip we intended to Avignon, including getting through the largest lock in the Rhone (22m)

Big lock

Motoring down the Rhone -Just worked out how to put videos on

Off to Port St Louis soon…pretty much at the Med…

8 Responses to “Oops”

  1. Wow. It makes me breathless just hearing your tales of daring do! Glad you’re all safe and that there aren’t any holes!!

    Chris, thanks for your email. I’m not ignoring you, just sort of ran aground myself… and I will reply 🙂 Long story short, the job I moved to Edinburgh to do was brilliant, went really well, and I finished up as planned in the summer. The subsequent job was a bucket of crap and so I quit 😉 just working my notice now. Six shifts to go. Yay.

    Will send email with more gory details 😉

    Take care

  2. Jon & Meera Says:

    Bet you can’t wait for the sea and familiar surroundings. The bay of biscay was probably the easy option.
    By the way, when you run down the coast of Spain, nip into Javea. Nice safe harbour and a lovely resort. It is 30 miles ish above benidorm.

    Keep safe!
    Jon & Meera

  3. BAE Office Says:

    We wonder who was ‘driving’ – classified information we presume! Or just too many tins of beans onboard?

    Good luck for the next phase


  4. Glad you’re all okay! xxx

  5. eve and brian Says:

    I don’t remember coding being quite as exciting! Well done for getting it all sorted and glad to hear there was no damage to Sailors or craft.

  6. […] I’d had no problems anchored in that spot for a several days, but had evidently got complacent about increasing tidal range getting towards springs. Walking across the Roseland to meet up with Si and Cat in Portscatho got delayed for a few hours to wait for low water and make sure nothing dramatic happened. Happily the mud was clearly quite soft and with little current, no wind and the tide to come back in it wasn’t really a problem, unlike other incidents I can think of (chiefly https://maidofmettle.wordpress.com/2009/12/05/oops/). […]

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