Our Dutch friends who had overtaken us the previous day, were on their way shortly after the locks opened at 7am, and we followed them more sedately around 8am. We were obviously getting far too casual about these low headroom waterways and, having forgotton to lower the radar arch, started the day by driving straight into the wire cable which crosses the canal and supports the lock opening mechanism. Having distentangled ourselves without damage to it or us and, thanks to automated locks, apparently without an audience, we proceeded to the first lock.
We had anticipated stopping at the village of Attigny, where the Navicarte made dire warnings about laying in food supplies, as the next shops were, '1 day's navigation away'. Anyone would think we were crossing the Atlantic, the way they went on about it. In the event, the moorings at Attigny were full, so we decided to push on, with or without food supplies.
After two more locks, we would be at the start of a 26 lock flight with operates as an automatic chain. It is possible to stop within this flight, although it is preferred if you contact the lock keeper, so he can ensure the next lock is ready for you when you recommence your ascent. As we entered lock 27, which we knew was a manned lock, there were two VNF employees ready to greet us. We were impressed with their diligence and attentiveness, thinking that two linesmen was really quite over the top. Our congratulations were cut short when we realised they were trying to tell us of a lock closure at Charleville-Meziers, a large town on the Canal d'Est which would form part of our onward passage.
We were now faced with a dilemma, and one which had to be resolved whilst the lock-attendants waited to find out if we wanted to continue locking through or not. Retrace our route of the last two days to Berry-au-Bac, and then take another route via the Canal St Quentin; continue on the Canal des Ardennes, but then turn east on the Canal de l'Est and make our way into Belgium via Germany; or sit out the delay, predicted to be anywhere from five days to a month, at one of the haltes nearer the blockage. We were not inclined to go back and on the hope that the work would not take as long as first predicted, continued into the automatic chain, and managed to complete six more locks before being tempted by the attractive halte at Neuville-Day. Having forgone the shopping opportunity earlier in the day, and being low on supplies, the restaurant du visite, Au Sans Souci, suddenly looked very enticing, and we were made welcome by the obliging hostess and her extended family who all seemed to have their role to play.