Jackie Parry – author


Top 10 tips for gaining your Carte de Sejour

French Visa & Carte de Sejour Rumours Debunked!

Noel has received his Carte de Sejour. What should have been a relatively easy process did become a bit of a nightmare. We learned a lot – this may help you!

Our Circumstances

I have a European passport, Noel has an Australian passport. I read so much information on this, my head was spinning, examples:

  • If he/she has a European passport then their partner is entitled to stay without a visa.
  • If he/she has a European passport the partner is entitled to stay, with a visa.

Okay, you get the idea, here’s a quick breakdown of the process we went through:

  • We applied for a visa within three months of arriving (as per the rules – IF the partner has a European visa).
  • Australians are entitled to visit France (or anywhere in Europe for three months).
  • We applied in Dijon, as that was our nearest Prefecture.
  • We were asked to stay in the area (we didn’t – read on).
  • We went to the Prefecture (in Dijon) and they searched my European passport for a visa – but eventually worked out that I had a European passport!
  • They presented us with a form and told us to fill it out and mail it back.
  • We filled out the form and mailed it, they mailed it all back, asking for more, we mailed it back, this went on for five months.
  • We could not talk to anyone in the Prefecture, by telephone, personal visit or email, they just kept telling us to mail our documents.
  • They eventually started asking for paperwork that was not listed on the application form, and that we had already sent.
  • By this time we had moved south – they didn’t comment on a new address.
  • We reached the end of our tether and went to Agen Prefecture (now, our nearest).
At the train station at 7 am after a refreshing bike ride in the dark!

At the train station at 7 am after a refreshing bike ride in the dark!

Here’s what happened at Agen:

  • After initial contact via email, we were invited to attend (with no pre-arranged date/appointment), so we took that (emailed) invite with us.
  • We talked to a real live person, (she had enough English and I had enough French (and a dictionary), to get by.
    She gave us a list of five additional bits of paper she wanted and said ‘when you return with those, I will issue your visa.’
  • She fined us 50 Euros for over-staying the three months (despite our process with Dijon) – we would have to pay it on the next visit.
  • Two weeks later we returned to Agen (we had missed our arranged appointment as we were waiting for paperwork – we tried to obtain another appointment by email but received no response, so we just turned up).

On the day we got the visa

We rolled up with all the paperwork requested.

  • They were miffed we didn’t have an appointment, but after we explained that we had tried to arrange one via email (and that we had no car and travelled there by bike and train) – they felt sorry for us and put us in a room.
  • “This is either very good, or very bad!” we said!
  • The interviewer understood we had been trying to obtain the visa since we arrived, and ‘deleted’ the 50 Euro fine!
  • She checked through our paperwork, nodded, made positive comments and GAVE US THE VISA!
  • It is a temporary visa until the card (like a credit card) is processed at another location, they will write to us when they have received the card and we can collect it.
  • We have to collect it within three months, it will be ready in January sometime.

The paperwork
Dijon gave us one form: ‘Premiere Demande ou Renouvellement – ressortissant de l’union europeene – MEMBRE DE FAMILLE -.
Agen gave us another: Carte de Sejour.

Dijon wanted (all copies):

  • Copies of passports.
  • Birth certificate (translated to English – I did this on Google, but they do ask it is done by an official translator).
  • Proof of where you stayed (and why) in France, for first three months.
  • ‘Family’ proof (marriage certificate for us).
  • Proof of funds (bank statements).
  • Health Insurance.
  • 4 x photos (like passport photos).
  • SSAEs
    This was for the applicant – they then asked for health insurance for me also, but at this point we had given up with Dijon.

Agen wanted (they also wanted to view originals and keep a copy)

  • A different form requiring the names of Noel’s parents, DOB and any children.
  • All of the above Dijon requirements, plus Noel’s entire passport photocopied.
  • BUT, they wanted the health insurance and bank statements translated to English too.
  • We have a French bank account, which seemed to help. They wanted to see a minimum of 1,000 Euros in there.
  • By this time I had my European Health card (EHIC), which helped (they wanted to see some kind of insurance for me too).


  • You MUST apply before going to France – Not true – if one of you has a EU passport
  • You will need a medical – Nope
  • You have to leave the country straight away, as we had been here five months! (advice from Australian Embassy) -Nope
  • Fine for over-staying three months – Nope – If you have been trying to gain your visa already and have dated correspondence.
It was a good day - Noel found his beer!

It was a good day – Noel found his very own beer!

Our Advice & Top 10 tips on the French Visa process

  • Do not go to Dijon Prefecture or any large city’s Prefecture.
  • Find a smaller Prefecture, somewhere where you can actually talk to someone.
  • Take the research with a pinch of salt – different websites (that looked official) all had conflicting information.
  • If someone says “this is how you do it” be aware that:
    • everyone’s circumstances are different.
    • each Prefecture is like dealing with a different country, they all have different agendas.
    • nothing is set in stone, it depends who you deal with on the day too!
  • If you need to translate Health Insurance documents, ask your insurer, ours gave us a French translation within
  • twenty-four hours (not google translated either!).
  • Try and arrange a French bank account – this helped! If not, ensure your statements are translated to English.
  • If one of you is a UK citizen, ensure you have your EHIC (European Health Insurance Card).
  • Research & learn some questions/answers in French before you go, to make the interview easier.
  • Create a ‘contents’ page at the top of your application, so everything can be found quickly.
  • If you disagree with what is happening (as we did with the initial fine), ask to see someone more senior. We were just lucky, and on our second appointment we were seen by a senior employee, who ‘let us off’ the fine as she deemed it unnecessary in our circumstances.

The visa is FREE, we had to pay for a lot of postage (our application became quite ‘thick’ and heavy).

More help/contacts
Solutions to problems with your EU rights here. This is a great European Visa Resource. They had already told us they would take on our case if we were fined.
Health insurance at a very good price (and they translated our docs into French!).
UK Citizens applying for your EHIC (European Health Insurance Card) here.

In Summary
If we had gone to a Prefecture, such as Agen, first, the whole thing would have been done and dusted in two visits, and with little pain.


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How to set up a blog before you go sailing!

Great advice here from Viki from Astrolabe Sailing

Astrolabe Sailing

I started writing this blog back in February 2014 and I have learnt so much in that time! If you are planning on having a blog for keeping track of your sailing adventures I would recommend that you start early to enable you to get your head around a few things before you head off. My main reason for writing a blog is for my own personal records of our planning and adventures, for family and friends to keep track of what we are up to, and hopefully it might become a useful resource for others who are hoping to do something similar.

If we can make a bit of extra cash to spend on yacht maintenance along the way via the blog, then that would be brilliant too. Getting it all set up takes a bit of time so here is what I have learnt so far and I am…

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Renovations update – a picture story…


This wall is about to come out.

This wall is about to come out.This water tank comes out.This water tank comes out.

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Free Navigation Advice

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‘Tis the Season to be Jolly

Image courtesy of Danilo Rizzuti at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

A gift from me to you

*pages of FREE navigation tips, tricks ideas & advice*

Be safe & have a wonderful Christmas & New Year – fair winds.


I read a great FB post this morning on how a cruiser found that different range scales on their electronic charts meant different information being shown. More critically, some hazards were not shown on a small scale.  Continue reading


Fined for staying more than 3 months in France

In short, Noel has been fined for staying longer than three months in France – during the application process. If you want to know how or why, read on…

I have a European passport, Noel (husband) has an Australian passport and UK Residency. Near the end of our first three months, Noel applied to stay longer, as per our instructions from the Prefecture.

For five months we’ve been playing ‘ping-pong’ with the Dijon Prefecture. More recently they’ve started asking for stuff NOT on the application form (instead of the same stuff we’ve already sent them six times already – no exaggeration there).

We’ve now moved to the SW of France and took advice to see the local Prefecture here, to get some help. Here’s what happened:

Mistake No. 1
We had to catch the train, to Agen (nearest Prefecture). We cycled eight kilometres to the station.
Missed the train by eight minutes, next train was in three hours.
We decided to have another go on Monday, but then we saw a rather large taxi.

Mistake No. 2:
‘How much to Agen, please.’
‘Fifzeen or sizxeen’
‘Great!’ For a ten minute ride, that sounded about right
One hour to dismantle bikes and seats – but a good idea…..
… until we had to pay.
‘How much?’
‘$58. 20 please!’

A better Prefecture
The Prefecture in Agen is fantastic compared to Dijon. Dijon is like a cattle-market on steroids, where strange woman hand over their baby to complete strangers, so they can join the scrum. This is the place that, on our first visit, they searched through my passport (European) and demanded to know why I didn’t have a visa – so you get the idea.

In Agen you take a number and after just a few minutes you are sitting down talking to a person, a real person. We explained our situation with my poor French and her poor English, but we did rather well (aided by dictionary).

Mistake No. 3 – Assuming Agen Prefecture would call Dijon, clarify and sort the mess out.

Cut a long story short  (yes, this is the shortened version)
– We have to start again.
– Include our Australian bank statement translated French (erm, aren’t  2, 3, 4, written he same?)
– Translate health insurance documents to French
– Print out French bank account statement (showing more than $1,000).
– ‘Basically, in Agen, all we need to see is that you have money!’
– We have another appointment next Friday

Whooooo hoooooo…. until…..

‘Oh and because you are here longer than three months, we have to fine you.’
And there’s Mistake No. 4 – doing the right thing!
So, a $50(Euro’s) fine

On the way home
As we sat on our train, waiting to leave the station to return home, we had a little chuckle about the mad-cap day; and we were just relieved to be going home.

Mistake No.5, thinking we could relax
‘Everyone off!’ And all of a sudden, we had to change trains, a fault had been found.
We all shuffled off
We all went to platform five
On arrival to platform five, we were told to go back to platform four
All rather boring with large bikes; up and down thirty or so narrow steps with 10,000 other people.
‘Platform four-and-a-half now please folks. Actually just run head-first at that brick wall as fast as you can and I promise that you’ll be home in a jiffy.’

Okay, they didn’t actually say that last bit, but at this point, nothing would have surprised me.

Arriving to our stop, we passed a hardware shop which had some building materials we wanted. So loaded up with heavy gear, we cycled the eight kilometres home just before dark and decided to open a bottle of wine.

On a positive note & in summary
– It was a ‘successful voyage.’
– Whether you are on a boat, horse, bike or train, getting back ‘into port’ safely is a successful voyage.
– We’ll complete the four page (new) form (previous one was one page!)
– We’ll pay the fine if we have to (but will argue the point first).
– We’ll be grateful, the fine could have been $2000!
– We’ll deal with Agen as we can actually talk to a human
– If we continue dealing with Dijon, it costs around $15  each time we mail the application – that’ll add up pretty quickly (already has)
– We figure, that if we walk away, or continue to deal with Dijon, at some point, someone, somewhere will check and we’ll be in even bigger doo doo.
– We may, possibly, finally, get this sorted…

…. Why is it, then, that I can sense Mistake No. 6……?

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Passage Plan – Lyttelton to Waikawa

Viki Moore from Astrolabe Sailing prepared a fantastic passage plan for a recent voyage…. This is how it should be done! Thanks for sharing Viki!

Astrolabe Sailing

We are currently preparing Wildwood for our delivery trip North. We are taking her up the East Coast of the South Island of New Zealand from Lyttelton Harbour – where we live – to Waikawa Marina, which is nestled in the heart of the Marlborough Sounds.

Our aim is to take her up early December on the best weather window and then drive home to do the last couple of weeks at work and then drive back up again on boxing day for some holiday fun!

Last year I attended a passage planning session at the yacht club run by David Kennett who has done the trip many times and he had some good tips to share. I am now going over my notes again to make sure we have got all our ducks in a row for the upcoming voyage.


A couple of weeks out we start looking…

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I like stripping

We’re almost naked… well, that’s to say the interior of the boat is almost naked! We’ve taken down nearly all the walls and are now trying to figure out how to put them back.

Cupboard about to be 'stripped'

Cupboard about to be ‘stripped’

Cupboard gone - designing new 'bathroom'

Cupboard gone – designing new ‘bathroom’

We have a few neat ideas that should produce enough space for an island-bed and another full double (with walk-around space on two sides – that’s plenty for guests!).

We will put in another toilet, so the master cabin will have its very own, private, loo. And we’ve even found some wardrobe space and we can leave the main part of the hallway/corridor where it is.

Our 'cabins' are gone!

Our ‘cabins’ are gone!

We had great fun when a copper pipe for the central heating split this week. Remember watching those comedy skits on TV, where the comedian is sliding around the floor, trying to hold back the force of water from a broken pipe, and letting go, so a great geyser of water sprays everywhere? We’ve found that those scenes ARE NOT exaggerated. Our central heating system is under pressure, so the water and greasy/oily anti-foul produced a wonderful fountain up the wall, windows, on the ceiling, carpet…. how lovely.

Noel fixed the pipe and then continued demolishing the boat!

Noel fixed the pipe and then continued demolishing the boat!

All is fixed now – so it’s back to demolishing the walls.

The wheelhouse - once upon a time we could sit here!

The wheelhouse – once upon a time we could sit here!

The second 'cabin'!

The second ‘cabin’!

The construction is magnificent and exhausting - every piece of timber has been held in with excessive nails!

The construction is magnificent and exhausting – every piece of timber has been held in with excessive nails!

These days are gone - for now!

These days are gone – for now!


Positive Thoughts – special days

We’re tearing the inside of our boat apart. The two cabins are badly designed. Currently there is a three-quarter double bed and a three-quarter single bed.

At the very least we can rearrange the walls for a big (walk-around) double and a grand single or, I am hoping, another double.

This morning there is stuff everywhere, we have to live in half the boat now. Eighteen-and-a-half metres divided by two isn’t very much! It’s not so much the smaller space, but we’ve had to cram 18.5 metres of ‘stuff’ into the other half!

Wrecking the place!

Wrecking the place!

Now we are sleeping and eating in the lounge (not at the same time), luckily the galley is a good size. The wheelhouse is the store room.

We’ve done this before on other boats and in houses, and instead of getting stressed and worrisome about moving everything around and living in a work-space, I am enjoying it.

Two cabins and lots of thinking!

Two cabins and lots of thinking!

We won’t always have our health and if we do, time will catch up with us eventually… we won’t always be able to do this.

So, we laugh when the mattress becomes a live animal and refuses to be folded in half to go out the hatch.

We giggle when we walk around in circles, picking up ‘stuff’ and putting it back where it came from.

We snort with mirth, when I moved one set of shelves into another room that Noel was trying to empty.


The corridor, part of which will become the main cabin (with ensuite of course!)

This is fun – these are happy days – these are days to enjoy. They make me smile.

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There’ll be days like this

Van Morrison sang about it and I could relate to those words today.

“When you don’t need an answer there’ll be days like this
When you don’t meet a chancer there’ll be days like this
When all the parts of the puzzle start to look like they fit
Then I must remember there’ll be days like this”

Noel and I have been quite anti-social lately, what with trying to get the outside of Rouge Corsair painted prior to winter setting in.

So, a shopping day with our friends, Kim and Lorna from MV Sunflower, was just what we needed to re-connect with civilisation again.

Aiguillon is a little over seven kilometres away. So, after a shaky start, (bike tyres….grrrr), we set off on four bikes of differing vintage, wrapped in hats and scarves, blowing fogging breaths.

On arrival, to get our bearings we sipped a delicious coffee watching the French-way unfold around us. The barman serving wine at 10 am with a cigarette in his hand. The impassioned shouting was just part of everyday conversation, and welcoming smiles.

Smart shopping
Noel and I had several items to find, which of course, meant the hardware. But, this time was different. I’ve never had so much fun in a hardware shop.

The 'hooks'

The ‘hooks’

We needed some L-shaped doohdads. Basically, metal hooks to hold up timber rods. Our curtains are going to tuck into these rods, at the bottom.

We could buy four in a packet for 5.55 (Euros) per packet. As we needed twenty-four we started to think of other solutions.

With Kim, Noel and I, scratching our heads, things started to improve. We found a packet with more hooks in them. They were a different metal, but useable, for 3.55 Euros. But then we spotted the pick ‘n’ mix.

The items were in baskets, loose, individual. I found a guy to help, as there were no visible prices, and he explained. There were three sized bags and each bag had its own price – the smallest bag was 2.55 Euros. We could put anything we liked in the bag, as long as it seals, all contents would be 2.55.

At this point we all grinned, rubbed our hands together, and said, ‘They have no idea what we are capable of!’


“As long as the bag shuts – it will cost 2.55 (Euros)”

We packed the bag with enough hooks and spares, to do several boats.

What was going to cost us around 35 Euros, ended up costing 2.55 Euros! (Plus extras!)

With fresh baguettes, ham and cheese we lunched in the town square. The smoking cafe owner offered us a table and chairs; everyone who passed-by smiled, ‘Bon Appetite.’

Loaded up! Great fun!

Loaded up! Great fun!

With a cheap supermarket, a charity shop and a hardware, all visited (some twice!) with loaded bikes, and big grins we cycled back to our boats. The cooling afternoon and falling winter leaves accompanied us home. The sweet smell from the apple orchards and the sounds of humming tractors was carried along the breeze to round off a perfect day.

Van Morrison – Days Like This Lyrics

When it’s not always raining there’ll be days like this
When there’s no one complaining there’ll be days like this
When everything falls into place like the flick of a switch
Well my mama told me there’ll be days like this
When you don’t need to worry there’ll be days like this
When no one’s in a hurry there’ll be days like this
When you don’t get betrayed by that old Judas kiss
Oh my mama told me there’ll be days like thisWhen you don’t need an answer there’ll be days like this
When you don’t meet a chancer there’ll be days like this
When all the parts of the puzzle start to look like they f it
Then I must remember there’ll be days like thisWhen everyone is up front and they’re not playing tricks
When you don’t have no freeloaders out to get their kicks
When it’s nobody’s business the way that you want to live
I just have to remember there’ll be days like thisWhen no one steps on my dreams there’ll be days like this
When people understand what I mean there’ll be days like this
When you ring out the changes of how everything is
Well my mama told me there’ll be days like this

Oh my mama told me
There’ll be days like this
Oh my mama told me
There’ll be days like this
Oh my mama told me
There’ll be days like this
Oh my mama told me
There’ll be days like this

Songwriters: V. MORRISON
Days Like This lyrics © Universal Music Publishing Group

If you enjoy our blog and like our writing – take a look at our books – here (under ‘our books’). No.1 bestseller and No.5 bestseller.


Top tips on weather – how to read a synoptic chart

This week a ‘soon-to-be-cruiser’ asked Noel and I to recommend useful courses to study before starting to cruise. The person in question was already signed up for Coastal Navigation and Deckhands (with all that great safety stuff).

The learning is endless, but immediately we thought of weather. (Also a radio license is a good idea too).

Knowing weather is a trade, there’s a lot to it. Meteorological headquarters all over the world confer daily to create forecasts. But knowing how to read the basics of a synoptic chart, is important.

Noel teaching commercial maritime - weather came into most subjects.

Noel teaching commercial maritime – weather came into most subjects.

There are many ways to download weather. Many people rely on internet these days, and you really notice that when trying to find a free station on the SSB (long range radio) to talk on!

We used weatherfax and downloaded the really neat program from JVComm – thereafter all you need is a connection from your radio to your laptop. Every day, we could download, 12, 24, 48 and 36 hour forecasts, both wind/wave and synoptic charts.

The synoptic charts cover a large area and that’s the key. You can SEE what is happening, and what will affect you, and how. You can forecast.

synoptic chart

Here’s a brief break-down of this synoptic chart:
Remember that all systems move from west to east.
Isobars close together, is a steep pressure gradient with corresponding increase in wind strength. Top left, is a good example of isobars becoming compressed between the low in northern Japan and the high in the Atlantic.
A cold front indicated by pointed triangles, indicating the direction of movement. The red semi- circles indicate a warm front. With a front you get a rapid change from low to high pressure.
The mix of triangles and semi-circles is an occluded front.
High pressure ridges and low pressure troughs are usually indications of unsettled weather – possibly squalls and precipitation.
Sharp turns or bumps in isobars generally indicate disturbed weather. Usually something unpleasant!
The two highs at the top will eventually join together, once the cold front has passed. This will create the usual alternate Highs, then Lows.
You can see the doldrums along the equator – no isobars!
Widely spaced isobars indicate light variable winds.
Zig-zag lines are a high pressure ridge – usually containing squalls.
Dashed lines are a low pressure trough – usually indicating rain and wind

Weatherfax frequencies are available worldwide – here’s the list.

Hints and Tips
• Become familiar with the Weatherfax process and schedule prior to departure. If you are in a marina, the signal may not work very well due to interference from masts and equipment.
• To utilise Weatherfax all you need is a good SSB radio (HF), a laptop and an earphone connection from the radio to the laptop. Free software for downloading Weatherfax is available on the Internet or here.
• We usually received a wind/wave forecast for 24 and 48 hours, and synoptic charts (isobars and wind strength) for 24, 48 and 72 hours. The wind strength arrows can cover a large area though.

Weather was in most nautical subject, but had its very own subject too.

Weather was in most nautical subject, but had its very own subject too.

Receiving weather via Weatherfax:
• You must deduct 1.9 kHz off the listed frequencies.
• To receive a good Weatherfax is easy, but the atmospherics can cause disturbances. Ensure you have done everything you can to receive a good picture.
• Turn off EVERYTHING:
• the fridge
• wind generators
• solar panels
• inverters
• electronic steering gear (get someone to hand steer for a while or use the wind vane)
• all electrical devices
• solar panels (install a switch that lets you manually turn them off)

Deciphering pictures:

We like the synoptic charts as they show you why the wind is doing what it is doing, and it can show you an escape route. You can clearly see what is coming.
• Download the worldwide frequency list from here.
• Do not forget:
• Subtract 1.9kHz from the given frequency.
• Some of the listed times are not exact and can change.
• Faxes can come a few minutes earlier and often later than the scheduled times.

Weather watching at the Gambiers, where a dip in the isobars gave us a good-hiding!

Weather watching at the Gambiers, where a dip in the isobars gave us a good-hiding!

Other boats downloaded weather that was more detailed, but to specific area. It didn’t show the big picture. They could see what would happen today and tomorrow but not long term, whereas we could view a front coming for 5 days, (and we did!) It is amazing to see it on the weather fax then on radar then visually! And then feel its impact!

Wind/wave chart for same area as synoptic chart.

Wind/wave chart for same area as synoptic chart.

Note: That the wind chart stops at 30°N – so you can’t see the gale that is on the synoptic chart!

More Information:
Cruisers’ AA (accumulated acumen) has all this information and much much more. It is now available on Kindle for not much more than a decent cup of copy. (No.5 on the bestseller list! – Amazon)

Of Foreign Build – is also available on Kindle and paperback (and has just become the No. 1 best-seller in its category! – Amazon)

More about us: Noel and I have sailed thousands of ocean miles and have worked internationally on commercial boats – in Australia we taught commercial maritime and all our accumulated knowledge through recreational and professional sea-miles is incorporated into Cruisers’ AA.

Me on a practical assessment for radar and navigation - I always asked students to interpret the weather.

Me on a practical assessment for radar and navigation – I always asked students to interpret the weather.