Monday, 9 January 2012

Sea Ray 370 Sundancer FOR SALE

We have now decided to sell our Sea Ray which has been a fantastic boat for us to see the French Canals.  Currently moored at Lattes in south west France near to Montpellier, the mooring is also available (which are like gold dust!)  The mooring is on a floating pontoon inside a secure 'locked' marina which is fresh water - but it is only a short trip to the Med.  Montpellier airport is just a 10 minute taxi ride and is serviced by Ryanair and Easyjet flights from the UK.

The boat 'Elise' is fully kitted out, has a full canopy and sun shades, air conditioning, generator, mosquito nets on all hatches, full electric galley, holding tank for toilet, sleeps 4+2.  Recently antifouled and serviced she is ready to go for a new season.  £79,950

To view the boat please visit  our webpage and email us if you have any questions or would like to arrange a viewing.

I will finish this blog so that our amazing trip can be recorded.

Thursday, 30 September 2010

From Peronne via Canal du Nord to Pont L’Eveque

Sunday 12th June 2005 

Left Port Peronne at 9.30am  to be in the first lock of the day at 10.00am.  We knew from the Navicarte books that on Sundays the locks were open for shorter hours and closed at 6.00pm.  

It was another lovely day although the wind was still chilly, in total we travelled  47km,  which included 7 locks and the 'Souterrain de Pannetene' tunnel which was 1.05km long, and none of which presented any problems.

Pont L'Eveque

Once again, as we began to think about stopping for the evening, we found that there were no suitable canal side moorings.  Any that had been marked in the Navicarte guide book seemed to be permanently occupied by people living aboard in the large barges, so we carried on to a little village called  Pont L’Eveque near Noyon.  There were no public moorings as such but we managed to find a spot on the side of a little street which was very pretty.  There were very few mooring bollards so we had to tie up to lamp posts which displayed a sign ‘do not tie up to street furniture’ (oh dear).  

Opposite to the mooring was a small boatyard carrying out works to the large barges (peniches) converting them from work boats to luxury living accommodation.  The village itself was very small and pretty, just a pub which also seems to double up as the shop and post office and a bakers.     
The Pub / Village Store and Post Office at Pont L'Eveque

Wednesday, 29 September 2010

Port Peronne

Port Peronne

 Saturday 11th June 2005

One thing we have found already is the lack of overnight mooring spots. Even if you have your own rhond anchors onboard, the shape of the canal sides make it very difficult to get on and off the boat when you have moored up. To be fair most of the traffic we have come across so far has been commercial barges, we have seen very few pleasure craft so perhaps the VNF (French canal authorities) do not see this as a priority.  

Today we have decided to take a day to look around Peronne.  After a much deserved (it felt) lie in, we collected the croissants that we had pre-ordered bread the night before from the campsite shop.   After breakfast we walked into the town, this took around 20 minutes from the port.

The town itself was really nice (out of the campsite/port and turn left), a good selection of shops and a large market selling everything you could possibly imagine.  We stocked up with fruit and veg and some enormous prawns, also some lovely meats from the Charcutterie and bread.  On the way back to the boat we discovered a local Lidl supermarket (to the right of the port).  It seems wherever you are in the world these supermarkets are all laid out in the same way – bottled water to the left and fruit juice to the right,etc, etc !!  Luckily we had taken our ‘hold-all’ on wheels with us which we able to load up with bottled water, very reasonably priced wine and other long life goods. 

Wednesday, 26 May 2010

From Arleux to Peronne via Canal du Nord and Ruyaulcourt Tunnel

Friday 10th June 2005

The alarm went off at 6.30am this morning, I thought we were on holiday!!! We were just waking up when we heard the first barge start its engine - Karl jumped out of bed, I've never seen him move so quick.

A man on one of the barges 'Odysseus' waved us into the lock in front of him, and as it happens we stayed with this barge going through the locks and tunnel for the rest of the day, he was a Dutchman who spoke very good english.  The dutch gentleman and his wife lived onboard their barge and he explained to us that he took his holidays in England on the canals!  It was it his wife who did all of the driving, on some of the locks he had just 3" clearance on each side, he directed her into the locks using a walkie talkie with him at the front of the boat - how she did it, I'll never know! 

Entrance to Ruyaulcourt Tunnel
Ruyaulcourt Tunnel- light at the end of the tunnel!

We had read alot about the Ruyaulcourt Tunnel which is around 4.5 km long with a 1km passing point in the middle.  Luckily for us, our friendly bargeman waved us ahead, effectively queue jumping, but as we were able to travel faster than the barges (still within the speed limits) we were not going to hold them up.  The tunnel is lit and when you enter you can just about see the end.
 We had no problems at all with the tunnel, it is traffic light controlled so no worries about meeting a barge coming the other way, the headroom is 3.7m which for most pleasure craft does not pose a problem and the depth was around 2.2m.  There is a path that runs along the inside which the attendent uses to nip back and forth on a moped to make sure the traffic is flowing smoothly, it is also fitted out with CCTV cameras.  

It took around 45 minutes to make the passage and it was nice to get back out into the sunshine againAs I mentioned previously, you can see the daylight at the end of tunnel when you enter - but it does seem to take a long time to get to it!

We stopped at a mooring shown in the Navicarte book at a place called Port Peronne, this was just one long floating pontoon alongside a touring/camp site which was just off the main river.
We were able to get a berth with water and electricity and although there were a few permanent moorers, I think we were the only visitors on the pontoon. The office staff were very friendly and we were given the use of the site facilities if we wanted them, toilets, showers, launderette and bar. We were also able to order bread and croissants to be collected in the morning. After eating onboard the boat we decided to put our laundry in the washing machines and go for a few drinks in the bar while we waited - mmm, not so. At just 8pm the bar had closed and the whole campsite was deserted, Friday night and not a soul around !!

from St Omer to Arleux via Canal du Nord

Guilotine Locks
Thursday 9th June 2005

Barge Waiting Quay
Left St Omer early to get a good run today. We went through some several deep locks (upwards) the deepest was around 13 metres, although with floating bollards you just tie up and go up with them - no problem! It is a bit earie until you get used to them, as you pass under the big guillotine doors the smelly water drips on you and when you look up the slimey walls seem to go on forever.

We have been trying to get into the locks infront of the barges rather than behind as their prop wash really throws the water around. Commercial traffic does get priority so it really is up to the lock keeper if he lets you in - luckily for us we've had no problem.

In total we did around 95km today, it was quite uneventful. At around 6pm we started to look for somewhere to moor for the night but there wasn't anywhere and with the big barges going past frequently drawing all the water away from the sides of the canal, we didn't fancy putting rhond anchors in and tying up to those. Eventually at nearly 9.00pm we found a spot on a lock waiting quay at Arleux where there was a lot of commercial traffic waiting to go through the lock the next morning.

We are using a Navicarte book, number 24 - 'Picardie' which is from a range of pilotage books for the canals. All along the banks of the canals are numbers which you can follow in the book so you know exactly where you are and also helps keep a track of when the next lock is coming up.

Something else also happened today, my sister has had her baby, a little girl named Ebony :)

Saturday, 22 May 2010

Useful Boating Related French Words & Phrases

It soon became apparent that our school french was possibly not going to be quite enough to get us through our trip and that a few 'new words' might be in order. I have listed the ones that we have found useful and, just in case there is anyone who has even less of a repertoire than us, a few others too.

I'll continue to add to this list as I think of 'useful' words whilst continuing with this blog.

Barge .... Peniche
Boat .... Bateau

Bread .... Pain
Bridge .... Pont

Butter .... Beurre
Canal .... Canal
Lock .... Ecluse

Milk - fresh .... Lait frais (red cap is full fat & blue cap is semi-skimmed)
Milk - longlife .... Lait de longlife
Please .... S'il vous plait

River .... Fleuve

Supermarket ....Supermarche'

Thank you ....
Speed .... Vitesse

Water .... Eau

Well done ....
Bien Cuit (for steak) - this will still be cooked what is considered medium by most!

Thursday, 20 May 2010

Veurne to St Omer via Dunkerque

Veurne Market
French Boarder
Wednesday 8th June

We made an earlier start
this morning as we are going to make for St Omer in France today. First though we had a trip to the local market which was held in the large central market place. The fresh strawberries really scented the air so we bought some of those for later. The market was a typical mix of fruit and vegetable, clothes, hardware and even some livestock and although last night the town was completely deserted, today it seemed like the everyone who lives there has turned out.

There were no locks on the first part of trip, just lifting bridges which were no problem at all. Karl pulled over to the bankside at Adinkerke for me to hop off, climb up the steep bank and nip to the chocolate factory to buy goodies - there wasn't any mooring places so he just stayed with the boat while I did my trolley dash!

The French border was a lifting bridge where we had to present the boats papers and our passports in the bridge office. We had to fill in some paperwork here which enabled us to collect a licence later at the VNF office further along the canal in Dunkerque, this was 224 euros for the remainder of the year. As we entered Dunkerque the first lock was automatic but this was broken so we had to wait for an operator who had to come from the seaport.

Immediately after we had collected our licence we went into a lock, the first of many! We then carried on along the canal via Watten to St Omer where we found a little marina for the night for the fee of 14 euros, water & electricity included - in total we have travelled 61.5 kilometres today.

In the marina Karl spotted a boat which still had a Broads licence number on it and recognised it from a marina at home where we had once moored. He wandered off to take a look while I prepared our meal, when he came back he told me that not only was it the same boat but the same owners, who happened to onboard for their holiday - they live just 3.5 miles away from us in the UK!! Small world.