Legends from our own lunchtimes

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

The big guys
Thionville - Metz

Lost in all the ramblings of fog and scenery, I may have failed to note that the river is a reasonably serious transportation route. Ships that fit exactly into the length of the one hundred and forty metre long locks travel at twice our speed in places and seem to sneak up and spring out from behind trees. They aren't terrifying, but at the same time they don't have to shout "boo!" to frighten us, they don't have brakes and we simply try to stay somewhere where they are not.

We waited in Thionville this morning while "Sonny" rumbled through the town, fully laden with more than three thousand tonnes of something very heavy on board.

We figured, correctly as it turned out that we'd be able to keep up as the way ahead was relatively shallow and twisty, and since he is a "littly", a mere one hundred and ten metres in length, there would be plenty of room in the back of the locks for us. We marvel at the skill of these guys, placing all one hundred and ten metres exactly parallel with the side of the lock, rarely touching, while almost twelve metres away, there is another side sitting exactly equidistant from the wall.

From our perspective though, ten metres away there is a propellor of several metres diameter and we understand what a fly must feel as it is about to be swatted by an elephant's tail.

We quite enjoy following the big boys though, no one can surprise us from behind, and they know what's happening ahead, so we wait when they wait as ships come round blind corners.

Three locks and a few hours later we are in Metz, and by midnight summer will be over.


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