We are loving Buzet sur Baise. We’ve perfect autumn weather, a safe and quiet port, nice friends just down the road, all within a wonderful quaint village.
With one week of good weather forecast, Noel and I are busily painting the top sides of Rouge Corsair. It’s so easy to forget how hard painting is, this morning every part of my body aches, including my fingers!
Sunday morning we took a break and cycled 5 kilometres (uphill) to a vide-greniers (garage sale). Although it was more like a huge market with just about everything you could ever want – good stuff too.
Image courtesy of federico stevanin at FreeDigitalPhotos.net
Within the bustling, friendly market we met, an Australian, an Irishman and an Englishman, who have invited Noel to play cricket, tennis and go cycling. Noel thought this was rather nice, but did wonder, ‘can’t we just sit under the shade of a tree and drink beer?’
Chestnuts! Image courtesy of jiggoja at FreeDigitalPhotos.net
While Noel tried to convince the locals that beer, shade and trees, really was the way to go, I had great fun searching for rugs to insulate our floor for the coming winter, some blankets and bits and pieces. We had great fun with Lorna and Kim from MV Sunflower and a great giggle coming home – thankfully it was downhill!
3 rugs on the back of Noel’s bike, our work-mate bench in Kim’s basket (as well as their stuff) – I had a full back-pack and panniers (as did Noel!)
To find out about the calendar of garage sales, flea markets and flea markets of France, Switzerland and Belgium, dial up: http://vide-greniers.org/
And if ‘coins’ are your thing, look up Richard Lytton. He is a numistatist (and a rather nice chap), www.gascogne-monnaie.com (Australian and world coins).
As we approach our winter mooring, we’re starting to focus on the next part of our adventure, and look back at what we’ve achieved so far. The journey has been a pleasure and, conversely, a bit like a Carry-On film too. After the ‘challenges’ of buying a boat in a country where we don’t speak the language, we are now reaping the rewards.
First: The challenges Hauling-out, survey and work in a foreign place, with an angry broker (the sellers’ broker) as the sellers had accepted our low offer (our fault?) – AND, secret ‘meetings’ between the yard and previous owners, where we could never figure out what was going on and always felt like we were being led up the garden path to rip-off-land – made a rather stressful time. But, it all worked out in the end – and rather well!
After we’d traversed the buying process, in order to get going Noel spent two-and-a-half days bent over like a crone in the engine room, he fixed umpteen leaks in the wheelhouse windows and we painted a 18.5 metre boat (“why’d you buy something so big?”) – hanging up-side-down to reach the hull or balancing in the leaking dinghy.
Jackie painting (cutting in – NOT fun!)
Meanwhile, a cat adopted us, which was nice until we found out she had at least one other home. We tried to convince the cat to go home and stopped feeding her, but there was a bountiful supply of field mice. The cat stayed and continued to leave a trail of gall bladders on the carpet and mats to denote her preferred nocturnal eating spots.
When we set off, we tackled low bridges that caused palpitations. We fudged the drawing of the bridge curves, guessing the water height (after flood rains), and we considered several alternate suggestions from other nomadic-brained cruising folk, such as ourselves:
Load up the boat with passers-by at the feared bridges, offer free beer as an enticement.
Get close to the bridge and ‘GUN-IT-MATE’, which would indeed lower the roof height, as these barges do sink considerably at speed in shallow water (about 3″- 4″)
The problem with these ideas was:
How do I overcome Noel’s inherited Scottish antipathy to providing ‘free beer’?
We didn’t think we had the bottle to approach the offending 200 year old stone arches with 25 tonnes at 6 knots. “What could go wrong?”
We took a day off prior to tackling the low bridges, we had flood rain that night that really ensured the adrenaline reached peak levels…. with clenched teeth and other body parts…we made it – just.
We made good time south and Noel swam in The Med, he said, “It was very nice, no surf, dead flat and I managed to avoid impaling my feet on the broken glass and syringes.” (I have trouble swimming in the sea, since my shark encounter…another story for another day!)
More recently, we have sacked the planning staff on board that we used on the current co-ordination of events. (Fancy coming so far south for warmer climes to head north again!) There are vacancies in the afore mentioned position. So far, no takers.
Now: The Rewards Each day we trickle along, accompanied by the ripple from our bow. Otters ruffle the silky surface, my favourites, the Kingfishers, flash bright blue and vivid orange within the canal’s banks.
The rewards! Pommevic put on a marvellous display of pink and yellow this morning – (see map below).
It’s a real feast for our eyes, as we putter through villages, rolling hills, and resplendent trees where horses frolic. The relaxed way of travel heightens our senses, the breeze picks up the tangy perfume of autumn, and in the evenings iridescent dragonflies flit in the fading light.
We hear the throaty calls of the dawn chorus, eerily hidden by heavy mist. We are enjoying the cool nights where we feel the pleasure of wearing warm clothes.
Puttering through pretty villages – Moissac.
We’re no longer sailing but we’re still weather watching. Wind is still to be respected and, now, rain too.
The journey is becoming etched on our skin, by way of smiles; created by new friends, passing acquaintances, helpful locals and friendly waves.
It’s been an honour to do this journey and we’re having the time of our lives. It’s all there for the taking, just waiting for us and anyone with a sense of adventure.
The next part of the adventure We plan to renovate below decks and enjoy living in a small, friendly village, Buzet sur Baise. It’s here we’ll re-acquaint with friends that we’ve made along the way, and hopefully make new friends (while creating a nice home too).
Pommevic is gorgeous – free, safe mooring with electric and water (48 hrs maximum) – so nice, we stayed today!
We’re in south France. Rouge Corsair is galloping along and we can’t quite believe we are down near the Med already.
Gallician – moored on the bank, just a short stroll from the pretty village.
It smells different here. The salt air is refreshing, the Medittranean breeze is cooling. The dry grass is a contrast to the lush paddocks that we saw in the middle of France, but the harshness of the land reminds us of Australia – where things sting and stick-in you!
Gallician location – on the Canal du Rhone a Sete
We’ve made good time, enjoying the scenery pass us by is a heavenly way of viewing France. The friendly waves, the great (free) tie up places and the fun boat people from all over the world keep us smiling all day.
We love not having a car to worry about and pay for. Freedom is a moving boat and two bicycles.
Work doesn’t stop for boats, we all had to squeeze between the floating bollards and the crane!
The midi is approaching and that’ll be breaking new ground for us.
We’ve ordered a marine toilet from Italy and solar panels from Germany. We’ve got a Dutch bank account and a Dutch built boat. All instructions, on the boat, are in French.
We’re ordering fuses from Holland, ‘they don’t exist anymore,’ insists the French chandlery.
My Dutch phone keeps texting me in Dutch. I can’t get my French phone to work – I have to back up the Sim first, in order to back up the Sim I have to activate the Sim, in order to activate the Sim I have to back up the Sim.
The French dongle (sounds like a poodle) is working just fine – phew!
Thank goodness for lovely places like Ranchot to calm my befuddled brain. And my lovely family from the UK (mum, dad & Kieran (my nephew)) – to help keep me sane!
The town of Dole is remarkable for several reasons. The three most pertinent reasons for me are because:
1) The scientist Louis Pasteur was born here (he was the guy who came up with the food preparing process known as pasteurization, and he also developed a vaccination for anthrax and rabies).
2) It is a stunningly beautiful place, and
3) It is our first stop on our first voyage on our first barge!
My nephew Kieran is great crew
After leaving our health Spar on the hard at St Jean de Losne dry dock, where the fumes supplied a healthy nose bore, emptying out all that crap that’s been sitting there; and where daily skin and teeth exfoliation were complimentary from the neighbouring sandblasting – we finally cast off and moved!
Before departure I confused (and scared) a few people as I decided to inflict a name change on Dole, I told everyone we were going to Dove!
Hidden delights in Dole
Family arrived, mum, dad and nephew Kieran, and they instantly felt at home. They easily fell into the boating way of life and before long we were on another voyage to Ranchot; which was interesting as we did not plan to stop there – until the floods. More on that soon – with some beautiful pictures of a splendid evening on our unplanned visit.