Jackie Parry – author


6 Comments

An Englishman, Irishman, and Australian were at a market….

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

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?’

Image courtesy of jiggoja at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

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!)

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).

Kim and his  (and our) 'load'!

Kim and his (and our) ‘load’!


8 Comments

Journey Reflections as the page turns to the next chapter…..

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!

DSC_0266

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!)

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.

Lily sleeping!

Lily sleeping!

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:

  1. Load up the boat with passers-by at the feared bridges, offer free beer as an enticement.
  2. 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:

  1. How do I overcome Noel’s inherited Scottish antipathy to providing ‘free beer’?
  2. 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.

Phew!

Phew!

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!

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.

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).

DSC_0448

Pommevic is gorgeous – free, safe mooring with electric and water (48 hrs maximum) – so nice, we stayed today!

map

DSC_0453


6 Comments

I am not sure how we made it

But we did make it. Ecluse number 56 de Fonseranes (K206.5), has six locks, one after the other. Fortunately, we were first in line, but two other boats where squished in with us, testing everyone’s skills and patience.

6 locks

At the first lock, the lock-keeper swaggered over and managed to stop chatting on his mobile for a second. I naturally assumed he had come to take my line (as per every other lock-keeper). He took the line, slipped it over a bollard and then rapidly shot fast-French at me, ignoring my pleas to slow down. His disgust at handling our lines was evident.

He chatted on his phone more, watched the other boats come in and then said, in near perfect English, ‘you do your own lines.’

‘Of course,’ I said, ‘No problem.’

To which he replied with the most magnificent Gaelic shrug, that I would assume is usually reserved for vermin.

This was before they REALLY let the water in.

This was before they REALLY let the water in.

The hire boat was ordered to leave the first lock, first. While the crew gathered the lines the lock-keeper tutted, rolled his eyes and stood with hands on hips. Who knows what was going on in his tiny mind – but the phone rang and it was all smiles and back to chatting with buddies.

As we puttered in I wondered how I was going to get the lines on the bollards with the boat-hook, the lock walls were too high.

‘About a third-of-the-way-in are steps,’ I said to Noel, ‘You’ll have to get me near them.’ Noel nodded in his usual relaxed manor.

I’d climbed up many locks before in our sailboat. I know it is ‘not the done thing’, but we had no choice back then or here. Back then I was on a low boat, with no lock-keeper I had to get the lines on a bollard, so up I went. Here, with muscles some thirteen years older, I had to think carefully about what I was doing.

The dry steps, of course, the lower ones were underwater and covered in green slime.

The dry steps, of course, the lower ones were underwater and covered in green slime.

I took my time but it was  a little scary.

I took my time but it was a little scary.

You could walk the boat through (and others did, keeping hold of the lines) but they had plenty of crew, shorter boats, lighter lines. But, they still couldn’t ‘walk the boat through’ when we all got to the bridge. Besides Noel was doing inch-by-inch manoeuvring (handled brilliantly), and I wanted to help him too.

What followed was a scary launch of my body out to the slippery, slime-ridden steps, a steady climb with a fore and aft line on each shoulder and crowd-pleasing success. Noel manoeuvred the boat’s bow and stern right up close to the wall, however the curved lock-wall still meant I had large leap. I received ‘whoops’, claps and admiration. Meanwhile, the lock-keeper straightened his sunnies and chatted on the phone.

There was plenty of cheering as I made my way up.

There was plenty of cheering as I made my way up.

What resulted was me feeling alive, working the ropes, being independent, and being strong. I was thinking on my feet. On this trip, we’ve been hauling anchors, furling heavy ropes several times a day, climbing on deck, jumping ashore and shopping via bicycles. My muscles are becoming defined, my jeans are looser, I feel alive and yes, I am loving the whole thing!

The other amusing result I’ve noticed is that our precious paint is no longer precious. After six locks in what can only be described as ‘water-fall’ conditions, just inches (sometimes much less) between boats and walls, and all of a sudden you don’t give a flying fig about your paintwork – just surviving unscathed!

The climb.

The climb.

In my opinion, as lock-keepers, there’s too much responsibility for surly youths, which results in an attitude. That said, apparently since their hazard pay has been taken away, the lock-keepers on the Midi will not take your lines. I am not sure what the hazard is of taking lines. Actually it created a hazard as we took a moment or two than usual to secure the boat, and the lock-keeper let the water in before we were ready! Not fun!

I noticed, also, that not one of the boats’ crew looked at, waved, said Merci or even acknowledged the lock-keepers.


4 Comments

Sunken boats (not ours!)

Fanfare if you please, we’ve made it to the Canal du Midi.

Entering the Canal du Midi

Entering the Canal du Midi

Lake Etang de Thau was welcoming in its expanse. It was nice to see a long watery horizon. We had perfect conditions, the sun bounced off the silken water and reflected the cloudless blue sky.

About to enter the lake.

About to enter the lake, prior to reaching the Midi

DSC_0372

Lake Etang de Thau. It is illegal to traverse this lake in winds in above Beaufort scale 3, (7 to 10 knots).

The Midi has presented its own challenges, round locks, shallow depths, narrow stretches and low bridges. It’s had our adrenaline up at times, it’s tested our boat handling skills and we’ve loved every minute.

Squeezing under bridges, there are lower ones to come!

Squeezing under bridges, there are lower ones to come!

Rouge Corsair's fine bow, slicing through the water.

Rouge Corsair’s fine bow, slicing through the water.

Many plane trees are still left, but more are sadly marked for cutting down. But there’s hope that the beauty will be restored with new trees lining parts of the canal.

The beautiful trees are still in abundance... our first mooring in the Midi - just heavenly.

The beautiful trees are still in abundance… our first mooring in the Midi – just heavenly.

small scale big lake

Frontignan - our last stop before crossing the Lake.

Frontignan – our last stop before crossing the Lake.

The startling array of sunken boats as we entered the Midi was quite astonishing. These few, in the pictures, were in a stretch of half a kilometre, and I didn’t photograph them all… so sad to see…

A useful sunken boat!

A useful sunken boat!

DSC_0415 DSC_0418 DSC_0412 DSC_0411 DSC_0408 DSC_0407


8 Comments

It smells different here

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.

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

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!

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.

Approaching the lakes.

Approaching the lakes.


8 Comments

Where we were robbed!

Thirteen years ago we were robbed here. Here’s where we tied up, near the town of Roquemaure.

New buildings just over the bank.

New buildings just over the bank.

We were on our ocean going sailboat, all 10 metres of her and having a grand old time taking time away from rolling oceans to carve a path through the middle of France.

With our mast prone.

With our mast prone.

With our mast lying prone, our make-shift tarpaulin and determination, we made our way up to the UK, where Noel fulfilled a dream he’d been harbouring for many years.

With our mast where it should be!

With our mast where it should be!

To find out what happened when we were robbed and what Noel’s achievement was, it’ll cost you the price of a cup of coffee.*

Of Foreign Build, my book detailing these and nine years of sailing escapades, will be out this coming November, details here. (Follow my blog to be the first to learn about up-and-coming freebies!)

Here’s some pictures to whet your appetite….

The Big Chute in Canada (yes, that's our boat up there - and us!)

The Big Chute in Canada (yes, that’s our boat up there – and us!)

???????????????????????????????

More canals – this time Chicago

???????????????????????????????

We were thrilled to sail into New York

DSCF0116

On ‘reef’ watch

???????????????????????????????

More canals – where? you’ll have to buy the book – note how we are dwarfed by four enormous barges – 2 tied up on each side and two coming down the middle together… we just slipped into this space in time!

9780987551542-Rev7_FrontCover for Danielle and marketing REDUCED*ebook version.


4 Comments

Follow those geese!

We are wondering if we are going the right way. The autumn leaves are more established the further south we go. We are also wondering if there are snow-capped mountains around the corner!

We’ve done the right thing – waited for the geese to indicate south and we are following them.

Today’s our fifth day on the move and we puttered past Lyon as time is pressing and we’ve already been there twice before. We’ve moored at Syripel or, as it is called on our other charts, Les Roches de Condrieu (40 km south of Lyon).

Main lesson learned today: check the DBA site out for updates…. our book-charts (which are embarrassingly old) have a nice spot drawn where we thought we could anchor. Our electronic charts just have a blue mooring buoy.

For some strange reason we didn’t check the DBA information (as we have done every day so far) and we were getting ready to anchor. Turning the corner, we saw a huge mariner, of which we are now a part of, paying our entire monthly budget to – sigh! … We are, however, having a grand old time… here are some pics.

A day out of St Jean de Losne and we'd seen very few boats, until we got to this lock. It was like a party - such fun - they Aussie boat behind us were just lovely.

A day out of St Jean de Losne and we’d seen very few boats, until we got to this lock. It was like a party – such fun – they Aussie boat behind us were just lovely.

That urge to see around the next corner!

That urge to see around the next corner! Seille River (for one night – so very pretty!)

Macon, pretty but noisy night.

Macon, pretty but noisy night.

Lyon

Lyon

Autumn is here!

Autumn colours

Sunny when I am at the helm.

Sunny when I am at the helm.

Raining when I am working the lines!

Raining when I am working the lines!