Our Barge is Finally All Painted!

No idea it would take THIS long to finish painting the boat.

All in all, it took 8 MONTHS!

Noah wasn't even BORN when we began painting the boat!

Painting the hull went quickly back in December.
We were up in the shipyard, remember?

In Grau d'Agde, on the Mediterranean.

José Jimenez (he swears he's French, not Spanish-) "attacking" the hull with his "pistolet".

First: Sanding.
Then - a metal primer, since the boat is steel.
Then - 2-3 coats of paint.

But then - winter set in.
It was too cold - too wet - too humid.

In spring - the trees rained tiny seeds.
Showered millions of tiny black insects.
No good for painting.

Then rain. And wind.
Then - too hot.

Steps - before painting.
Steps - after painting.

But FINALLY - this week, in JULY - it's painted. 
Glad we weren't in a real hurry.

Here's what things looked like - before and after. 

Now - all we need is to put the name back on. And the new French registration number.

Looks like new. Shiny.
Darkened the off-white to a rich cream color.
And darkened the blue.

But stayed with traditional colors.

We've been "detailing" it all week. 
Polishing the chrome. 

Removing paint traces from windows. 
Cleaning the sides.
It's fun when it looks so good.

Working from the aft deck. Who needs yoga?

Found a new spot for bicycles.

Raised the mast for the first time (it's hydraulic-!) and added the flags. 

We have the Languedoc flag - the red one. 
It coordinates nicely with the New Mexico flag - the yellow one.

Yes, that's an air conditioner unit on the roof.  Really. -Need to find someone to recharge it.

It's a big boat - it took a LOT of paint.

The previous paint job was done without a primer coat.
The paint just peeled off in large strips.

And now - Stan has a new passion for keeping ducks away from the boat.

They've made themselves quite at home on some of the other boats.
Even laying large duck eggs on the deck.

And - they're a bit messy - to put it mildly.
So understandably - Stan doesn't want them around this nice clean boat.

Ducks in front of the cabin door. Waiting for opportunities. Hoping that Stan doesn't notice them. 

And - the ducks know it.

Killer French Canal Fish

Usually - BIRDS eat FISH. 
Not the other way around. 

Here, the catfish swallow pigeons - and doves - whole.

The building on the right - used to be the communal laundry. 

I mentioned this in the previous blog post. 
Here's the rest of the story:

It usually happens at the "lavoir", the medieval laundry area on the banks of the canal. 
In the evenings.

Lavoir - scene of impending doom - on the left.

One moment, the birds are peacefully taking a drink at the side of the canal.
Maybe even dipping their bird-feet into the water.

The next moment - a streak of silver, one large SPLASH - !
And - no more pigeon.

Not a feather, not a crooked birdie foot.

Nothing but a ripple of water.

No wonder the ducks are up on the towpath these days.

This fish is BIG.
He's really good at catching birds.

Even the ducks are worried.

The pigeons don't stand a chance.

"Muddy Waters" is the boat beside us. What are the chances? And they're great people!

So we began to look into it. 

Iris - visiting from Berlin with Mikey and Noah - found a video - and an explanation.

Mikey and Iris, waving their baguette from the bridge. Stan on the towpath, rolling up the "utilities". 

Turns out - these are large catfish, and - this is new behavior for them.
At times, the catfish comes entirely out of the water. 

Some catfish are successful 80% of the time! 

- One study at the University of Toulouse counted 52 attacks in 72 hours.
These fish are BUSY.

Across from us on the boat, it happens most every evening.
It's a bit disconcerting.
Sometimes we have to rescue the injured bird.

(Sometimes it's simply - R.I.P. pigeon.)

The barge Hatuey comes through. Oblivious to pigeon peril.

Meanwhile, happy Bastille Day!

See? We're still learning something new - every day.