The Port du Pleasance at St. Quentin is quite remarkable in that it is very similar to a ‘proper’ marina that sailors all love or hate. The port is based in a disused section of the canal and, for almost its entire length on one side, has typical French style finger-berth pontoons along it. All manner of craft were moored there from live-aboard péniches to day boats, some long-term and others short-term like us. The facilities were marina-like too, including shower/toilet block, laundry facilities and wifi. There was also a small 2.5tonne hoist for the lighter boats.
St. Quentin Port du Pleasance
Amongst the boats moored up was one that we recognised – the singing Dutchman from the Grand Souterrain. No one was aboard, but a short time later they came cycling past and instantly stopped to chat. What a lovely couple! They were wondering what had happened to us and asked what had happened. After explaining our demise, they told us that they were repeating the around trip they had done five years ago from home in Holland, through Belgium, around France then back home through Belgium. They were setting off again the following day having cycled around St. Quentin and the local churches. A sprightly pair they were.
The following day, I set to work out why my beloved engine was overheating. Nothing seemed obvious from the transom backwards – my initial idea of a rat in the swan-neck was a non-starter. I did dismantle the Vetus water-trap but this was clear. All the way back to the heat exchanger manifold was as clear. I disconnected the raw water pump and blew back through the system and found nothing untoward. I had done this a few days ago so wasn’t surprised at the result. What I hadn’t done before was check the inlet port of the pump. Yes, I found the obstruction – nine pieces of impellor blades! Three years ago an impellor broke up and, only finding half of the missing blades, I presumed they had been carried through the system and out the exhaust. No – they had lodged in the entry port between the pump guard and inlet pipe and rattled around since then. Finally they had found a configuration to all but stop the flow of cooling water. I ran the engine afterwards and had copious amounts of water spluttering out of the exhaust and no excessive temperature – problem fixed! I cannot believe I allowed myself to make the assumption they had gone through the system.
For a celebration, we took the bus to the centre-ville the following day. Only a short ride but for €1.25 for an hour (yes – done by time rather than distance) well worth it. The city is larger than Cambrai and again full of history. Tall gothic facades of buildings including the l’Hotel De Ville, church and others, surrounded the centre-ville. The central area of this quadrangle, for the most part, was a made out as a beach with tons of sand, swimming pool, slides and all those beach-like entertainments. Since the weather was superb, we stayed there until the evening and sat at one of the bistro’s enjoying a meal. At eight o’clock, the church centenary sounded, playing what I think was a short nursery rhyme. Then at a quarter past, different rhyme, and so on until nine o’clock when it reverted back to the mundane ‘dong’ again. What a wonderful evening! We noticed the following afternoon, about 3 o’clock, that it did the same - why these times I have no idea and my French was not good enough to ask.
Le Plage de St. Quentin
On Tuesday 12th July, after 5 refreshing days, we cast off and headed towards Chauny.