France – Saône

We stayed on the Saône from Corre to Lyon. Between Corre and Saint-Jean-de-Losne most of the locks are automatic and are activated with a pole. They operate from 9:00 to 12:30 and 13:30 to 19:00 (we’re in France after all) so we were often obliged to have a “long” lunch break. The first section of the Saône (the petite Saône) is very picturesque. This is also the section where you can find many rental boats on the river. You can rent them “sans permis” which means without having any experience at all. They are called bumper boats for two reasons: first they have bumpers built all around the boat, and second because they tend to bump into everyone / everything on their way. The worst bumper boat we encountered was filled with completely naked and drunk German guys, which is not a problem unless you have to share a lock with them like we did. Rather than tying up the boat to the bollards they kept on drinking so their boat bumped all over the lock. We feared for our boat, our trip and our lives (they did manage to attach one line after a while but that didn’t seem to help a lot).

The first day after leaving Corre we noticed that the engine was running hot and sometimes there was no water coming from the exhaust (despite cleaning the weed strainer a couple of times). We then saw that the raw water pump was leaking. We limped into Port-sur-Saône which turned out to be our luck as the marina also had a small yard with a competent mechanic that could fix our water pump in a couple of hours. When we saw the big old crane in a corner of the marina it reminded us of the Stallinga Scheepswerf in Leiden so we immediately felt at home. In the marina we also met Truus and Stephen, a Dutch-Canadian couple with more than 50 years of sailing experience (that’s over 100 years combined!). They recently traded their sailing yacht and the oceans for a motor yacht and a life on the canals and rivers. They told us a few nice stories about sailing in the Pacific, in Australia and in New Zealand and gave us good tips about where to moor on the Saône. We stopped in Charentenay hoping to find a nice mooring spot. Unfortunately the ones indicated on the chart were not very Halcyon Days friendly. We had no choice but to moor there anyway as the next lock was already closed so we spent the night on the keel. The following two days we moored in nature. It was also the first time we could swim in the river and play ukulele by a campfire. Further stops were Saint-Jean-de-Losne, Chalon-sur-Saône, Crêches-sur-Saône (looking back it would have been better to stop in Mâcon – this stop-over was expensive for what it was) and eventually Lyon. There are a few quays in Lyon with mooring possibilities but they didn’t look like a safe place to spend the night so we decided to go to the marina instead. The capitainerie told us that the city had many problems with drunk / party people untying the lines of the boats on the quays of the city center. In the marina we moored right next to the twin sister of Halcyon Days: a dark blue boat that looks a lot like our Varne with the mast flat on the deck. The next day we had a cup of coffee with the owners of the boat Ian and Lara, an English couple on their way to the Mediterranean with their Trapper 500. It was very nice to talk to people who are also doing this trip with a smaller sailing yacht while carrying the mast flat on the deck.


The Saône – some numbers:

  • Distance covered: 372 km
  • Number of locks: 25
  • Number of drawbridges: 0
  • Number of tunnels: 2


5 Replies to “France – Saône”

  1. Nice. At the time we are near Valance you are long gone. Won’t see you😢.
    As from their we go left into the mountains. For a two week vacation.

    Nice pictures you have made. Nice stories too. 👍🏻😎You meet a lot of people just in the good old days when i backpacked with friends by train to Istanbul and other places.
    Enjoy you trip, sail safe and see you later.

  2. Hinco and Lianne says: Reply

    Looking great; thanks for the updates. Hopefully the nice weather will stay a bit longer. Are you about 3/4 of the way now?


    1. Hi Hinco and Lianne, actually we already arrived last Tuesday in the Med. The mast went up yesterday, so we have a sailboat again! We’re a bit behind on updates because of the bad wifi connections in marinas (often non existent or non working). Thanks again for building the mast support system, it survived all the way to here!

  3. Heri Putranto says: Reply

    Hi Sarah,
    You look great! The pictures look really nice, I hope you enjoy your time there.

    Have a great trip ahead and stay safe!

    1. Hi Heri, I’m doing great and enjoying the journey. Thanks a lot! Cheers

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