At the Shipyard in France

We really have NO idea what we're doing.

We're kind of living on the boat. IN the shipyard. 
Up a TALL ladder.
While they're working on the boat. 
Until they open the canals again after the New Year. 

It's very weird, (and a very long drop to the ground-) but - I'm getting used to it.

The view is great.

In spite of the sailing lessons, and the boats we've chartered:
We really don't know much about boats.
 And nothing about buying and registering a live aboard boat in France.

It's not something you learn from books. 
Or blogs. 
You really have to spend LOTS of time - hours and hours, days and weeks and months - and slowly, it all becomes normal. -I guess.

We brought the boat down from the Canal du Midi to the shipyard by the Mediterranean, just before the locks close for the winter. No other boats moving.

The famous "Round Lock". Boats go through here. This is the last one before the Mediterranean.

We're learning about the systems: 
The 12-volt low voltage systems, bilge pumps, generators, corrosion, and macerators. We find that half the systems are located under the floorboards, others under the beds, some by removing the steps.
Everything - basically - is a mystery.
There are switches and cables and tubes and wires and ropes and tanks and engines and breakers and buckets and LOTS of old rags.

And remind me how that inverter works?

Stan and the surveyor from Marseilles, under the boat.

Spent a day with the surveyor, who tests the hull and the systems. He was excellent - as a former shipyard owner in Marseilles himself, he gave us a load of advice and information (which I wrote down) as he explained things patiently to us.

We really weren't clear even on simple things like 12 volt vs. shore power. There are propane tanks and a generator and a huge engine and various sets of batteries and switches. So many "Aha" moments - so THAT'S what this hole is for, so that's how that crank works, and that system and those pumps-! 

And the toilets and showers - remind me - where do they drain?

It was a GREAT lesson.  Totally worthwhile!
And: He thinks the boat is in good shape. Solid.

So: In this whole process, there are definite moments of: WHAT are we THINKING?

The guy in blue, Henri, brought up the boat single-handedly. Drove that thing right across the road, too.

There are other moments, where, sitting on the aft deck in the shipyard, up some 18-20 feet in the air, drinking a glass of wine and watching the seagulls chase each other.

 - I'm glad we took the leap.

It doesn't look like it, but Stan is WAY above the water here! I can't believe they let us wander around unsupervised up here.

As the sun goes down over the Herault River and the Mediterranean - it seems like - even though we don't always feel comfortable with the whole process, it's working out. And: even if we left tomorrow, and never went a step further - it's already been a Magnificent Adventure! 

We Found a Boat! Maggie May.

We found a canal boat to live on in France.

Down in the Midi, almost at the Mediterranean.

There are palm trees and the air is clear and clean. 
It's windy, and chilly - but oh so beautiful.

After all - it's still November.

THIS boat fits all the criteria.

It's spacious and is built well.
We both like it. No question.

And Stan can even stand up - even inside it!

Plenty of space inside. 
And a great aft deck outside.

The previous owners had to return to England suddenly, and it hasn't been cleaned up. 

3 cabins, 3 heads. (That's toilets, for you non-nautical types.)

Galley (kitchen) and living room in one open area. -I like that.

A space for a possible art studio. 

Not too tall, too long, too short, too wide. 
The proverbial Goldilocks boat.

It also needs a paint job. And some repairs.

And: wouldn't it be cool to have a wood stove installed?
And solar panels? (I don't even know the names for those in French!)

However: The French canals close for winter.

If we want her, we have to move her NOW - today (!)

To the shipyard to have the inspections and survey done.
Everything is moving fast.

So, like buying a house, we've agreed on a price. 

Now - all these steps and inspections. 
Documents and registrations and agreements.

Hoops to jump through. 

In French. 

But I have a feeling it'll all turn out okay.

Therefore, we've been having small "pique-niques" on the deck of the boat - even though we don't own it yet - complete with a little French wine - celebrating the potential success of the Boat Hunt!

Now: The survey. 
Hull testing. 
Engine oil analysis. 
Nautical testing. 

Figuring out all the stuff we don't know. 
(We don't know much, really-)

She (you have to call her "she"--) 
has to be pulled up out of the water and carefully inspected. 
And then the negotiations continue.

Then, she has to be painted and any repairs done.

And all this - in France.
 I even have to look up simple words like "starboard" and "port"! 

Sometimes, it feels a bit overwhelming. 
Sometimes it's just unbelievable. 

But: There's always a decent bottle of wine. Or two. 

Keep your fingers crossed that all goes well!

The Hunt for a Canal Boat in France is ON.

There were 36 boats on our "shortlist". 
Hundreds of others that have been rejected.
These are boats we've inspected - online - so far.

Now - time to investigate - in person.

We start off in Burgundy:

It's autumn, and the vineyard colors are lovely...

We have certain criteria that this boat must - or should - meet.

Here we go:
Lazy Jane - is too long.

Ibaia - is beautiful inside but: too tall for low bridges.

Vertrouwen - is just too narrow - hard to even pass each other inside!

Horizon is a Dutch trawler. 
But - pretty - um, boxy. 

And tiny windows make it dark inside.
Big engines, too - too big for canal cruising.

Sir Berty feels a bit like an inexpensive single-wide inside. 
(We had high hopes for this one! Oh well.)

Kikkervis is lovely in a old cottage-y way. 

But Stan can't even stand up inside!
Not happening.

Liberte is WAY too much work for us to take on.

Kotare is beautiful - but - there's NO outdoor space. 
No aft deck, no place to sit on a sunny day and enjoy a glass of wine. 

What good is THAT?

We'd have to climb over each other to get into bed in THIS one -
and you know who would have to do the climbing...

We even considered a beautiful cruiser.
Lovely, polished wood interiors.

But: It's a cruiser! 

Not a barge, not a canal boat, not a trawler or even a tug.

In my mind, cruisers are martinis and high-speed chases. 
Not leisurely afternoons puttering down a river.

And so it went.

30 boats.
We went through them pretty quickly.

Day 5, we drove from Burgundy....

...down to the Canal du Midi. 
Down by the Mediterranean. the exact village where we'd spent time 2 years ago. 

Feeding ducks off the back deck of a chartered canal boat.
With the whole gang. Good memories.

We looked at a boat before lunch. 
(The same restaurant we visited 2 years ago!)

By the time we'd finished lunch 
- we'd made an offer on the boat. 

And - the offer was accepted.

It looks like: 
We've found a boat!

And more on THAT- next time!

Right now, it's time to open a bottle of Chassagne Montrachet.
Bought specially - and saved - for this moment.


Stay tuned - we'll go take some pictures tomorrow!