Stats

Over the last 3 months ………

Engine hrs – 151

Canals – Bourgogne & Nivernais

Kms – 371

Ecluses – 276

Tempers – frayed

Kiwis met – 17

Bottles – too many to count!

 

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Purple Loosestrife decorating the canal banks

Have you seen the Muffin Man?

We left Chitry on Friday, a day later than intended having wasted most of the day tending to my thumb. The bandaging only last 36hrs – too restrictive and uncomfortable. Its now turning beautiful shades of black, blue and yellow.

So onwards on Friday to Sardy-les-Epiry where we rested up for the night before the flight of 16 locks. So there I was on me oneo while Adrian was doing his daily cycle ride to collect the car, when alon comes the Muffin Man. I kid-you-not. A gentleman of a certain age came along and asked if I would like to buy some muffins! Apple muffins at that! And a guy from the dutch boat in front told me they had already tasted these delicacies and that they were very good. So, needless to say, we had apple muffins for desert! We met him the next day too at a lock along the way and he told us he comes from Nevers which is about 45 mins drive away!

The flight of 16 locks up to the tunnels at La Colencelle are fun. Lock keepers each seem to take boats through 3 locks and there are quite few students working this stretch during their holidays – we met language, dental & engineering students; both male and female. Apparently it’s not easy getting one of these holiday jobs and they only get to work either July or August. Not a bad summer job I feel, especially when you see their sun loungers and radio set out beside the lock.

We had fun with the eclusiers. They can be a bit stand-offish at first but often loosen up when they realise that we speak french. One such guy ended up pulling Adrian’s leg big time about his rope throwing skills as he was trying repeatedly to lassoo the bollards.

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These locks are also fun because several of the old lock houses are now cottage industries for artists & artisans – a potter, a photographer, a stone mason etc. I bought a wine pitcher from the potter at ecluse no 14 and laughed at lock 6 where the photograher lives – they also sell honey, cord bracelets, crepes and drinks and have this weird open hippie type boat moored up – with a great big flash Mercedes parked beside. Ho hum….

So then we reached the end of the flight of 16 locks and awaited the green light to start through the tunnels at La Collencelle.  The approach to the tunnels is rather Middle earth-ish or like going down the Amazon with overhanging vegetation.

 

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There are 3 tunnels (212m; 268m & 758m). Nowhere near as long, or height restricted, as the Pouilly tunnel on the Burgundy but still challenging – especially when you go in & out of dark tunnels into blindingly bright sunshine – and when Piedaleau thinks she’s a crab, wants to go along at an angle touching both sides & doesn’t want to respond to her captain’s commands!

Still we arrived at Baye and moored up for the night on the wall overlooking the lake. A Lovely evening with sail boats across the water. And mist on the water in the morning – a misty morning does not always signify a rainy day, as I always say.

We went off to find some supplies at Corbigny and popped down to Chitry to see what was happening on the Sunday. This weekend was supposed to be the DBA (Dutch Barge Association) rally in conjunction with Les Amis du Nivernais. We were originally booked to attend but it was cancelled but a lower event was then planned by Les Amis du Nivernais. So we went along and got invited to join them for lunch. Good to get to know Muriel & Didier (Chimudi) better and interesting to talk to Ted Johnson, John and Stephanie (Ted’s son & daughter in law) who are taking over the business at Chitry as Ted tries to retire.

And finally w hen we got back to Baye we managed to meet up with Bruce whom we met last year on Rival at Menetreole near Sancerre. Unfortunately he is here to work on Rival as he is trying to sell her through Boatshed. Lovely old boat. Had fun reminiscing about our couple of days at menetreole & hope to meet up gain when we return in September.

Piedaleau is now safely moored under the watchful eye of Michel – he remembered me from 2009 when he inadvertently exacerbated my alternator problem, so I think he’ll take good care of her while we return home for a few weeks.

 

Pride comes before …….

a squished thumb!

We finally left Clamecy on Sunday 19th – somehow we had stayed a week. But time to move on again if we are to fulfil our pressing schedule.

We stopped at Villiers sur Yonne, Tannay then Chitry les Mines. Adrian is still doing his daily cycle ride to bring the car along with us so we are a bit limited regarding distance travelled each day. But also the heat continues, it gets well over 30*c most days, making lots of locks exhausting. And now we have a new obstacle to negotiate in the form of lifting bridges. These are dotted long the canal & are self operated – mostly electrified, so you just have to press buttons, but some manual, so you have to wind or turn a wheel. We were warned that some do not go vertical which makes getting through with this wide boat with high sides interesting, particularly when the wind decides to get up at just the wrong moment. But we did, of course, attach a side rail height marker pole in preparation for this little blighters. Unfortunately everyone of these bridges have lifted on the opposite side, so a fat lot of good that has been!

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Not that we think the fates are having a good laugh at our expense or anything – we’re not paranoid at all!

Yesterday Adrian fitted another kiddie’s fishing rod as a starboard rail marker. Now, surely, we are fully covered.

We went to visit the Chateau here at Chitry which, although not usually open to the public, can be arranged privately. We went with Chris, Caroline, David and Glenda on board ‘Bon Viveur’ and another couple of brits also in port. It was a lovely visit, we were shown around by the housekeeper as the family still use the chateau as their summer residence. Monsieur et Madame ‘Knobbe’ took themselves out when we arrived.

The chateau has been in existence for hundreds of years, sitting on a sheer rock above the river Yonne. As often happens there is an eclectic mix of old and new. 17Th and 18th century tapestries and furniture interspersed with modern sofas and tv controls. Very much an occupied, living chateau and home.

In the evening we drove up to Baye where Steven and Truss had arrived with their new boat. We met them in St Jean when they first came over boat-hunting earlier this year. They have had a bit of a run around finding the right boat but are now very pleased with their ex-Nichols hire boat. It suits them well for their new phase of boating having had sail boats and a catamaran for many years. They regaled us with fascinating stories of their years sailing round the world. Really admire them.

The local village annual get-together was taking place right in front of their boat at the port in Baye. It seemed to consist of food, more food and music. Truus and I bought jams and macarons; Adrian and Steven bought beer, dinner ….. and more beer!

This morning we waved goodbye to Bon Viveur – that crew certainly has good taste as Caroline seems to have fallen for Piedaleau big time. So much so that she googled ‘Piedaleau’ and found my blog! As has Muriel, french lady on ‘Chimuda’ who greeted me with ‘…. you put a picture of my boat on your blog!’ (they were the boat that was moved along a bit at Clamecy when the hotel peniche was doing a u-turn!) I didn’t realise others could access my blog in this way – I may have to take care about what I say in future……. nah! Truus reckons that would be a shame, so I won’t!

So what happened to your thumb, I hear you all ask.

Well ……. after Bon Viveur left this morning we were waiting for a couple of boats to come down before the lock would be ready for us and generally getting everything ready for the orf. We have to lower the canopy and I was just thinking that we finally had it off pat – looking professional to the coffee drinking group at the cafe – when squish – the framework got my thumb! Bloody sore I can tell you.

Anyway, to cut a long story short, we took a little trip up to the hospital at Clamecy to have it checked ‘cos it is soooo sore and swollen. But its ok, nothing broken, just well squished. So it is bandaged up to support and protect it and the doctor said I should keep this on for 6 months ….. so that Adrian can do the washing up! Not really but it will make the 28 locks we have to do over the next few days even more challenging.

And, before you ask, no damage to the bimini…………

 

Previously I have painted word pictures of people we have met along the way. I must do one now of a German guy at Chitry. Adrian nicknamed him ‘The Blond Giant’. Never did find out his name.

He is living there whilst he works on his old and very immobile & leaky wooden tub.

I asked if he was called Noah – its that sort of tub – and he said no but his cousin is.

The tub lets in water big time and you frequently hear the bilge pump kick in and eject water +++.

He seems to spend most of the day talking about what he should do next and then only starts to actually do anything at about 8pm. He had a farmer come by with his tractor the other day to haul the tub further up the slipway so that he can reach the biggest hole in the hull and try to fill it better than the rags he stuffed into it sometime ago. Apparently he was told that adding cow hair to his mix for the hole would be good – he couldn’t find an accommodating cow so he shaved his beard off instead.

He has appropriated a corner of the car park and erected an awning for his kitchen and eating area; he sleeps in the back of his beaten up van. It seems that passing boaters offer him odd bits and pieces – a chair, a table – which he checks over carefully before accepting.

He told us that he has had the boat for over 8 years and was working on it near Sens where he tried to set up a sort of boaters’ commune – somewhere boaters could take their boats to work on themselves and camp beside it. He talked about being set upon physically by some people there and that his boat was burnt. So he has had to start all over again. Another boat towed the tub up to Chitry. He has a friend with him who thinks he should just forget the tub!

A gentle giant if ever there was one – he was so concerned about my accident with my thumb – said he saw it happen but couldn’t get to us to help in time.

I wonder if he will ever get the tub to float again…….

 

Clamecy

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We arrived in Clamecy on Sat 11th July – a day early as we declined to stop at Coulanges. We had a couple of ‘inetresting’ manouevres to complete on this stretch. At one point the canal crosses the river Yonne. Not by bridge or aquaduct, you understand, the waters just cross with a weir on one side and the lock entrance straight ahead. Adrian has learnt to go v e r y slowly when entering locks but he couldn’t here because of the current which wants to take you to the weir and away from the lock entrance. Fun!                                                                                                                                                    There is also a very narrow, right angled entrance to the river section just along from Clamecy. More fun! Slightly frayed nerves by the time we arrived.

But we got there – the little port was full but we moored on the opposite bank and sussed out the other boats so we would know who was moving when. Sunday morning saw us up early and ready to jump into a space being vacated by an American couple. Good work! And our neighbours? Kiwis, of course!!

We then met a British couple on a wide beam narrow boat – Lazybones – and just seemed to chat and chat and chat. we all felt it was unfortunate that they had to leave as we got on so well. They had to get to Auxerre to take their tortoise to the vet to be checked over before going home for a spell.

Sunday was my birthday so Adrian put my beautiful mirror (art deco style made by a stained glass maker in Auxerre) and we watched the men’s tennis final with a glass of Cremant from Bailey. Then out to dinner in the evening where they put a candle in my dessert and gave us a glass of champagne to finish.

On Monday Adrian had a long cycle ride (23 kms) to go and fetch the car again. Then in the evening several of the boaters went to a jazz / folk aperitif concert in a yoart. Yep! that’s what I said, a yoart.

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It was absolutely fabulous, a really fun event. 3 musicians playing a variety of instruments and generally having fun with the audience – about 20 people. One song had me a little perplexed until I realised that they were singing about a Harley Davidson –  very strange pronounciation in french! Everyone was enjoying he music so much they just kept on playing and it turned into a party with everyone chatting, singing along & many dancing.

Every morning there is a lot of movement in a port like this as boats leave. But not on the 14th July, Bastille Day. The locks are closed for the day so everyone has to stay put. It was quite bizarre not hearing boats starting up and setting off – so quiet. The port was completely full and people were going and coming all day watching the various festivities in the town.
First a procession with brass band, then the ‘joutes de bateaux’ – jousting in little boats. This was scheduled to run from 2 to 6 pm but it didn’t finish til after 9pm. Then, my favourite, the fireworks. And what a show it was. We had ringside seats as the fireworks were set up across the other side of the lock. The canal was so still you could see the reflections of the fireworks. We invited a french couple and their 2 grandsons to join us so that the boys had a good view. Pablo (7 yrs) and Axel (5 yrs). Granddad works for the council and got a telephone call asking him when they should let the fireworks off! and Grandma works for the Tourist Information Office and told us of a nice restaurant out of town which we will try and go to before we leave. It was enjoyable to have them with us.

Then on 15th, before 8am, the queue for the lock started! Back to normal then.

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Thursday was predicted to be very hot (38*c) so we decided to take the french government’s advice and go somewhere with air con. We went to the museum – it has 4 floors and got progressively hotter as we went up! But we particularly wanted to see the information about the flottants and flotteurs. Bascally in the 19c Paris needed lots of wood for building and heating. The forests of the Morvan region provided it. A few posts ago I talked about the ‘train de bois’ that came through Migennes, well it started from here, from Clamecy. Wood was collected throughout the region during the winter, cut to size and piled up beside the rivers ready for the ‘flottant’ in the spring. On a given date the wood was thrown into the rivers around and channelled down towards Clamecy where it was collected and built into the ‘trains de bois’. The ‘flotteurs’ were the men who guided the trains down to Paris. They were considered to be the lowest of workers but became organised into a union of sorts. In the second half of the 19th century this practice was superceeded by other forms of transport but some traditions live on – the ‘joutes de bateaux’ on Bastille Day for example. All age groups take part – I particularly enjoyed seeing the little fellas who were held in position on the back of the boat and had the pole supported for them. Ahhh! The overall winner is called ‘Le Roi Sec’ (the dry king) ‘cos he’s the only one who never got dunked!

We took the opportunity to drive up to Veselay, a medieaval hillside village with a romanesque Basilica. I remembered visiting here in 2009 with Nadine, Henk, Bernadette, Anne and Tony but found it to be more touristified now. Full of brocante and gift type shops selling rather overpriced bits and pieces. There were 2 stained glass shops which really weren’t a patch on the one we found in Auxerre. On Friday, still suffering from the heat, we went off to the Grottes d’Arcy. These caves are privately owned and have, apparently, been passed down within the same family for hundreds of years. Unfortunately photography isn’t allowed so you’ll have to access their website if you want to learn more. Really fantastic caves with amazing stalactites, stalagmites, columns and prehistoric cave paintings. Absolutely fascinating ….. and very very cool on such a hot day. I don’t know about you guys but I can never remember which go up and which go down – well in french stalactites ‘tombent’ (fall) and stalagmites ‘mont’ (rise). How easy is that!!!

There were various events and concerts in Clamecy throughout the week. So we just stayed and stayed – saw some jazz / blues in the street, African music in the park, went to the market, watched boats come and go – including 2 hotel barges, one of which nearly got stuck doing a 3 point turn in the basin. All together we stayed a week.

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Canal du Nivernais

We left Auxerre last Tuesday morning after an extended stay in sweltering heat.

We visited another Crypt at the abbey church of St Germain. The crypt is partly Carolingian, with tombs and 11th – 13th century frescoes. We had our own personal tour of the crypt and learnt that St Germain was the first person to keep ‘relics’ and therefore is credited with starting tourism! The things you learn….

But I think I must be losing my touch! We were in Auxerre nearly a week, in sweltering heat and I never looked for a swimming pool. The day before leaving we discovered there is one just along the canal……. looked tempting but we now had to get moving so I never even got in the water.

The Canal du Nivernais was dug / built during the 18th & 19th centuries, opened in 1843 for navigation after the tunnels at La Collancelle, the summit, were built. Boats were hauled by horses, donkeys or mules. The main activity was timber floating which was carried out on all the rivers of the Morvan region up to the end of the 19th century.

Today it is a lovely canal wending its way through rolling farmland. We are now seeing that the wheat has been cut and huge rolls of hay remain in the fields. Beginning to see fields of bright yellow again – sunflowers not oil seed rape!

This canal is a bit of a challenge for Piedaleau because of the height of her side rails so we are taking great care as we approach bridges & lifting bridges. We have even gone to the length of setting up height guides using kiddies fishing rods. We are as ready as we can be (we hope!).

The first night we stopped at Bailey but refrained from buying any more Cremant. We did, however, return to Irancy for lunch at La Soufflot and buy another half dozen bottles of the red from the cave next door.

We then went on to Vermenton which is along a side channel off the main canal. This is where I hired a boat in 2008, with Frankie, Greg and Mary, to test out if I thought I could manage Misty Morning here. I then returned with Nadine in 2009 and I remember we experienced an amazing electric storm – watched it ll around the mooring basin from the top of a hire boat listening to The War of the Worlds and Richard Burton’s velvet voice. So atmospheric …. until the rain started and we all ran for cover! The mooring basin appears to have changed – very much quieter, although the lady in the office said this was because all the hire boats are out. Still it seems pretty empty to me. Another change is a ‘beach’ about 500m away up the river by a campsite. Unfortunately this was one of the few cool and cloudy days, so I didn’t go for a swim.

Our next scheduled stop was Pregilbert where there is a trout and salmon farm where there had been an Abbey years ago. At first it was occupied by monks and later by nuns and became so powerful and influential that the Pope limited the number of nuns to 100. During the 17th century the Mother Superior installed a canal with flowing water and stocked it with fish. The French revolution put an end to all this wealth and the Abbey was knocked down but a trout and salmon hatchery was set up in part of the grounds. I remembered buying fabulous fish there previously so Adrian and I moored up and trotted off with our shopping bag. Imagine our disappointment when we found that it was shut, under new management & the fish tanks being rebuilt but with no indication of when it will reopen! Poo and blast we cried as we defrosted some sausages for dinner.

This then brought us to the LOW bridges around Mailly-la-Ville and Mailly-le-Chateau. All our checking and planning ….. easy, no worries, got under without a problem!

We moored at Mailly-le-Chateau for the night where Frankie had marked a ‘very pretty, mooring – well she marked it but in the wrong place on the map but we found it anyway. And beautiful it was too. Behind the mooring a little river flows past and I finally had a swim! Bit like those pool machines trying to swim against the current – getting nowhere fast – but very refreshing. We were the only boat and so we slept on top of the boat under the stars (ok so we were under the bimini, under the stars) and it was fantastic. Pretty dark so the night sky was superb and the night sounds incredible. A pair of owls sounded as if they were having a terratorial battle right beside us. I mentioned before that I enjoy being moored in the centre of a city, well ‘au sauvage’ is my absolute favourite.

Onwards to Chatel Censoir for the next night. All these villages are sleepy little places with some charm but little of major comment. Previously I visited Vezelay from here but this year we will go later as we have the car with us – ie Adrian is doing his cycle rides back to where we last were in order to collect it. This means we are trying to restrict our distance to between 10 & 15 kms each day so our next stop was to be Coulanges. However when we arrived around lunchtime it was to discover a busy, messy, noisy travellers’ camp beside the port. we carried on after lunch to Clamecy.

We locked through with an young english couple on an old wooden yatch which was fun. This is their first time boating in France – they came across the channel and are heading south to the Med, hopefully.

Hot to trot!

On Saturday ‘Saison Estivale’ joined us in the water – Murray and Gail were suitably nervous but keen to float again. A slightly anxious moment when Murray hopped on board to check the bilges and called Simon on board – a quick tightening up of a nut or two and all was well. Phew!

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They have done  great job – she really looks good. She wasn’t really about to be put on top of Piedaleau!

So, after 6 weeks all working away on the 2 boats across the boatyard, we were both finally in the water, moored side by side under the crane. This was, of course, cause for another celebration!! This one really did get a little out of hand – luckily Murray was able to cook a delicious stir fry – then Gail went to bed and I fell asleep on the sofa . Not good the next day and we all agreed that it is just as well that we are parting company and going off in different directions for the health of our heads and livers!

On Monday Laurent came back bright and early to finish the last few bits and pieces ….. then we just had to await our bill.

Having been used to the h2o ‘fairy tale’ type bills we went through it carefully. It was exactly as we had estimated – no unjustified extra bells and whistles – ‘dechets et petites fournitures’ a la h20 – everything was logged but not over-egged! For example Laurent had done a minor repair to the black tank and charged us for 0.25 hr ie 12.50 euros!

So we paid up and set off at about 4.30pm. We were determined to get going and to leave Migennes before the end of June. Just made it!

So off we went up the river Yonne. I did this river in 2009 with Frankie and Greg when we arrived and collected Misty Morning from Jo Parfitt at Migennes, but I had forgotten what these locks are like. Big – wider and longer than canal locks – and quite vicious when the water comes flooding in – tosses the boat about, even Piedaleau at 30 tons. It must have been a real baptism by fire for little Misty and one very nervous lady Captain!

We moored up at Gurgy for the night – then onto Auxerre on Tuesday where we are staying for a few days.

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I always enjoy approaching a major town by river and being moored up in its heart. The port de plaisance at Auxerre has fabulous views of the Cathedrale and 2 other churches. Lovely to have breakfast  on the top deck with such a panorama and to watch the changing sky line at night as the lights come on. Stunning. We are also provided with music from the riverside bars across the river. So we sat up on deck into the early hours just reading, listening and having a glass of wine as the temperature eased.

I called this post ‘Hot to trot’ but actually it is too hot to do anything, never mind trot! As I write this our thermometer reads 39*c outside and 36*c inside. It has been like this for several days and is predicted to continue for about another week. The French government are calling it a ‘canicule’ (heatwave), issuing warnings and advising people to stay indoors during the day or go to supermarkets / cinemas etc where there is air conditioning. Piedaleau’s metal hull heats up in the sun and the walls inside literally feel pretty warm to the touch. The biminis have been brought into play & we have even broken out the additional side panels – make the boat look like a bedouin tent! Took a bit of fathoming out and some extra sewing – just as well I brought my new sewing machine with me.

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This is the first year, since I started boating in France through the summer, that I have been able to watch Wimbledon! Adrian has kitted us out with TV and satellite dish so that we can get UK TV. So, the last couple of afternoons, we have been watching the tennis – with all the curtains shut and the fan going full blast!

Yesterday we took ourselves into town in the afternoon and spent quite a long time in the Cathedrale and its Crypt – coolest place we could find! The Crypt was constructed between 1023 and 1030 & served as the substructure for the chancel of the first Cathedral built here. The Cathedral was replaced in the 13th century but the Crypt was kept.

Took me a while to get up from the floor after lying down to take a picture of the painting on the ceiling – did it purely for the sake of this blog, you understand…….

 

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Ready, steady ……… gently does it!

We have been feverishly preparing for the grand relaunching – all the external paintwork has at least had one good top coat, the windows have been cleaned, curtains washed and the last input from out trusty friend Laurent is almost done… almost! One has to be patient.

Laurent seems to have had Piedaleau as his project. He has done all the various works we required – from welding the underside to painting the sides and now fitting Adrian’s toy (fish finder gizmo that plots where we are and what the river bed looks like) and my toy (rudder indicator so I don’t have to keep pulling the wheel round 3 turns to work out where we’re pointing).

So, fingers crossed all will be well and floating soon…

We have certainly learnt some stuff about this boat over the last 6 (!) weeks. Adrian even now knows where some of the cables go.

Laurent is a really nice guy, a very big guy, but quite a joker with us. At one point he asked us to lower the anchor when he was  painting the hull. Easy enough you would have thought – not so! Whilst there is a foot switch to raise the anchor there isn’t one to lower it  (as on Misty Morning). Big hunt for the manual handle – eventually found. But there isn’t enough room to turn the blessed thing in the bow! So, with a ‘push-me-pull-you’ type approach, we eventually got the damn thing down but not before Laurent warned us that we must hurry as the ‘barrage’ was fast approaching! Before replacing our exit ladder at the end of his day he would always ask us if we had been ‘sage’ (good) today & therefore warrant getting off! A bit of a comedian but he works hard and does not mind advising and explaining things to us.

And then on Friday Simon was ready to put Piedaleau back in the water! Yippee we cried and rushed around trying to get everything ready. Main thing we forgot was the table on the top roof – the crane gantry threatened to flatten it at one point but was saved in the nick of time! A few marks on me paintwork though.

It’s quite nerve wracking watching your precious, newly painted boat be put on a trailer, fitted into the crane slings (exactly the same method as I used to use with immobile patients – just much much much bigger), lifted up, crane moved closer to the edge of the dock, gantry swung round and lowered down into the water close to the dock! All 30 odd tons of her! Adrian jumped on board to check there was no water coming into the bilges before the slings were removed.

When she was lifted out  we had an audience of Kiwis – Martin, Jackie, David, Sue & friends – this time we had Murray and Gail, also Kiwis!

And when we went out for dinner that evening to celebrate our relaunch more Kiwis joined us! It really has been the year of ‘the kiwi’ this year!

So now we are in the water again. Its great to look out the windows (they are sooo clean that Adrian tried to lob an olive stone out the window not realising it was sht!) and see the river and the trees. You do have to position yourself carefully not to look at the floating wrecks and the cranes and general paraphanalia on the dockside, but we are floating again!

Putting up the biminis required another celebration with Gail & Murray yesterday evening! Any excuse I hear you cry, and you would be right!

Simon Evans came to join for a beer and it was really interesting to learn more about him and his background. Most of the ‘wrecks’ around the boatyard belong to him, it seems. some acquired because the owners have walked away and owe him mooring fees, some given to him for restoration when he can get around to it. He has a particular interest in restoring old lifeboats and promotes the French lifeboat association.

So we hope that Laurent will soon complete the rudder indicator installation so that we will finally be ‘free’ to go…….. don’t hold your breath or count your chickens etc etc etc

Vicarious cruising

We are still in Migennes…….

When Simon suggested we could stay to paint the outside of the boat it seemed like a good idea. But we are still here. And nowhere near finished painting. Although my hands, knees and back are complaining that enough is enough!

We would like to complete the full first coat and then get out of here. Then perhaps moor up somewhere quiet and carry on with a second coat when we have recovered. We have a couple of problems here – either too hot (got up to 35’c) which makes the paint unhappy, or lots of little black flying things which makes us very unhappy! They seem to be particularly attracted to the cream colour and to the pungent smell of our paint. Bloody annoying when they literally fly in front of your roller or land on your newly applied paint. Makes it look like Piedaleau has the measles and makes Adrian growl……..

An American guy called Cris Hammond described it as growling which I thought very appropriate. He was here with his boat and stopped for a chat a few times. Even lent us his book on knots and splicing (‘oh still my beating heart’ I hear you cry!). Yep, I’ve taught myself some basic rope splicing – ready to attach the posh new f… off barge fenders! My OT friends will be particularly impressed – specially when I say that it reminded me of our first day at St Andrew’s College of OT when we had to cord knot ourselves a scissor cord to loop onto our uniform belts. The things that memories are made of….

I digress. Anyway, over a beer or two with a couple of Kiwi couples, we discovered that Cris is an artist and an author.

We duly downloaded his book – From Here to Paris – onto our kindles. What a delight! – absolutely sums up this whole boating in France thing, the joys and tribulations. His comments about his experience at h2o and the characters involved, are brilliant. Can soooo relate to that!

He also has much to say about Migennes, which he refers to as ‘Gulag Parfitt’. Since he wrote it there has been a change of owner – it ain’t that bad under Simon – and Cris has left his boat here again for work to be done. But I was reminded of his comments today when we were chasing Simon to get our final bits done and put us back in the water – he joked that maybe his crane wasn’t big enough to lift us now we’ve had the fuel tank filled ……..

That was an interesting challenge. The fuel tank supposedly holds 2000 litres of diesel. I used to often trundle backwards and forwards to supermarket garages with me fuel cans to fill Misty Morning. Not no more – Adrian sourced a fuel delivery firm and we had a tanker come on site to top us up with the odd 1300 litres. Not cheap, but we certainly got a much better deal that way! And the tank isn’t as big as we were told.

So we have both read and enjoyed this book and had a jolly good laugh at some of the anecdotes. A form of vicarious cruising which has served to remind us of why we are doing all this

…… but first that involves being lifted back into the water!!!!

One of the New Zealand couples left last week (after starting out and then coming back again a couple of times because of ongoing engine trouble – Simon joked that he had tied a long piece of elastic to their stern) and we went over to see them at Joigny. A lovely evening with Tony & Sue, watching the sunset over the river and the church up on the hill opposite.

So another bout of vicarious cruising, reminding us again as to why we’ve bought this boat here in France and making us determined to …….

…….get back in the water!!!!!

As I finish this post, it is now Weds & Laurent is here! doing our final bits and pieces. Don’t hold your breath but I hope my next blog will a floating blog…..

Train de bois

We are still in Migennes………

But last weekend we took a day off to join the ‘Flotescale’ festivities at the beginning of the Canal de Bourgogne.

This was basically a re-enactment of the flottage du bois that was in existence from 1549-1923. It started as a means of taking large quantities of wood from the Morvan district of France up to Paris where it was needed for building works and for fuel. Using the rivers as a means of transportation was quicker and more cost effective than the roads.

Numerous lengths of wood were lashed together to form 72 metre ‘trains des bois’ which were taken down the river Yonne to Paris. The men then had to walk all the way back home after delivering their cargo. When the Canal du Nivernais was built the wood was transported by peniche so ending the ‘trains du bois’.

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But we were able to watch a replica come along the Yonne, through the lock and onto the Canal de Bourgogne. It was an excuse for a little frivolity, including an enjoyable band with a sousaphone! After which we retired to the pub.

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Life in the boatyard

So what exactly have we been doing I hear you ask……

Certainly spending lots of euros in the local M Bricomache!

We have had the hull done underneath and up the sides by the guys here and we are generally working our way around the rest……

Never fast …… you know what it’s like….. try to do one thing and you find 3 more that need doing. And we are battling with the ‘Mr Bodge-it’ and ‘slap-it-on’ type approach of our predecessor. So everything takes much longer that expected. It does mean, however, that we are getting to know Piedaleau intimately and we are trying wherever possible to solve and fix problems rather than just ‘paper over’ them. An example is the top lockers…. just needed to do the rails around the outside but then looked inside, saw rust and grot and did it out properly. Took about 6 different coats of paint! I got a little high on the fumes inside at times but you could eat your dinner off it now.

The high temperatures also didn’t help the painting but we now have the correct thinners and new paint ready to go. So it started raining over the weekend. If in doubt do more preparation of other areas and get waylaid but the new problems that you uncover!!!

The boatyard is more like a boat-owners-do-it-yourself club – lots of people working away, strange noises and some very bizarre sites..

I think we must be a little mad but I’m hoping that the sense of achievement we gain at the end of it will be worth all the sanding down, washing down and painting. Doesn’t sound so much when listed like that but me poor old knees know all about it! Just as well Adrian isn’t woriied by ladders as he’s spending quite a lot of time high up trying to do the sides.

We are also having enjoyable ad hoc evenings with other boaters. Comparing notes, tips, advice and usually sharing several bottles.