Settling back into boating life

Hello and welcome to the latest blog on July 1st 2021. This feels like a momentous day as it is also our first blog back on board our lovely boat Olivia Rose after so many months of enforced separation.

View of the marina at BASSE-HAM where she spent the winter

This will be our fourth year cruising and I always have mixed feelings as we journey back towards the boat. Part of me is excited as life on board brings with it a definite sense of freedom, of leaving the more tedious elements of our daily lives behind and living purely in the moment. But part of me is nervous. Boats don’t appreciate being left, especially for long periods of time, and we have been apart for ten months, which leaves plenty of scope for things to go wrong. All the usual questions run through my mind: will we have sprung any leaks over the winter? Will the engine start? Is the shower still working? And then I’ll have a little panic as I wonder if I can remember how to throw a rope, or exit the lock without hitting the gates on the way out.

Thankfully we arrived back to find the bilges dry, always a huge relief, and no other obvious leaks. The cobwebs had taken over below decks whilst on deck much of the paintwork was green with mould. She looked a neglected and unloved boat, which is quite normal after so long with no-one aboard, and so our first day was taken up by a thorough clean. The second day was dedicated to the engine, changing oils, and replacing our old batteries. The engine started first time, another potentially worrying moment, but she sounded sweet as a nut. The third day was spent flushing and sterilising the water tanks, checking all the plumbing and getting in food supplies. On the fourth day we had a rest!

During that time we had the unexpected pleasure of meeting a British couple who stopped in the marina for a night. They had been cruising for a couple of weeks and had seen hardly any other boats on the water. This didn’t surprise us but we wish it had been otherwise. With so few British,  American or Australian boaters able to get to France it was probably going to be a very different cruising experience to what we were used to. The social side of life on the water has always been one of its greatest pleasures and I wondered if this year, for the first time, we might actually feel rather isolated and alone. Time will tell, but whichever way it goes, it still feels very good to be back.

It’s a short blog this week, as there are more things yet to do before we can leave, so I’ll keep you in suspense until next week for news of our departure and where we are headed. On a different subject entirely I was invited to do an online interview about our dual lives, one on land, one on the water, by fellow blogger and author Vanessa Couchman, which went live over the weekend. I attach a link to the interview if you would like to read it. https://vanessafrance.wordpress.com/2021/06/27/ma-vie-francaise-11-mary-jane-houlton-living-a-double-life/

Vanessa’s blog is called Life on la Lune, providing a fascinating insight into life in France and she has also published three novels and a selection of short stories, all set either in the south west of France or on the French island of Corsica. Read and enjoy!

I will end with a couple of recent pictures, fewer than I had hoped to have for you but we’ve had a spell of wet, grey weather. I look forward to being able to share the beginning of our travels with you in the next blog. It’s been a long time coming!

Take care.

MJ

A grey day in Basse Ham marina
Couldn’t find many geraniums so a slightly different theme this year.

24 thoughts on “Settling back into boating life

  1. It sounds as if you have settled back on board very well and are now ready to set sail. So we must say Bon voyage again but this time sir l’eau. Bonne chance!

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  2. She look jolly good and ready for action – Olivia Rose, not you! Although knowing you two, I am more than confident you satisfy these criteria too. Another interesting insight to your nomadic life style with ‘Life on la Lune’.

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    1. I’ve just listened to your link and I love it! Yes I do know both him and that song but the lyrics have more meaning when you make them personal. Thank you Eliza, it made a good day even better!! MJ

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  3. Hi Mary-Jane, so nice to have met you the other evening / morning at Basse Ham. Hope you are progressing with your travel preps.
    We are now in Schweich after a disastrous journey. We overnighted in Schwebsingen (nothing at all going on there) after Basse Ham but the next day was a mess.
    We left Schwebsingen and had a freighter in front of us at the next two locks, who we locked through with. We overtook them at Grevenmacher as they stopped for something. By Trier they had caught us up and I radioed Trier lock to say I was letting them pass and asked permission to enter the lock behind them. Permission granted, no problem. The lock opened, two freighters going the other way emerged and our freighter started his approach but stopped after the light didn‘t change from red to green. A wake up call from the freighter captain got the green light and we followed the freighter very slowly into the lock. As we were passing the lifting (lifting / sinking gate type), we were blasted by VHF from the lock to reverse urgently. Too late, the rising gate caught us underneath and began to push our boat upwards. Full throttle reverse eventually freed us from the top of the gate but with a terrible metal against metal grinding sound. The lock keeper had raised the gate before we were in the lock. After sinking the gate we were called into the lock and the gate raised. As the gate came up it became obvious we had been hit by the railings at the top of the gate.
    Water police were called, all navigation for the next 3 hours halted on the Mosel while evidence was gathered and we are now waiting to have Moonshadow lifted for damage inspection.
    In short, the lock keeper was distracted, oversaw us completely despite radio contact and this is the result. A court case will doubtless ensue at some stage but the freighter captain who overheard all radio traffic has confirmed our version of events.
    The lessons learnt : never, ever assume that the lock keeper has everything under control. Be wary, especially with sinking lock gates.

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  4. Oh Rob. I’m so sorry. What an awful experience. I can’t imagine how terrifying and worrying that would be. Your lovely boat. I guess the only good news is you weren’t hurt and now you are both safe in Schweich and can take time to get over it. Heartfelt commiserations. Keep us posted. MJ and M

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    1. Hi Mary-Jane, don‘t think we had time to be worried when it happened, it was more a case of reaction, reaction and pretty quick too. Afterwards, yes, one is a little annoyed but, what the hell, life is too short to dwell on it. Damage can be repaired, life goes on and we need to move on as long as we can. Now started planning the next stage of life‘s voyage, this time up the Saar and Saar Canal and then perhaps down the Rhine Marne towards Strasbourg. Keep on moving – never try to stop the traveller !

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    1. Hi Mary-Jane, quick update; Moonshadow was lifted yesterday and there is no structural damage, just a little anti-fouling and primer damage which can be taken care of quickly. We needed to have new anti-fouling anyway so this can now be done in one go. At least the insurance will pay for the lifting and pressure cleaning. Not sure whose insurance but the WSA (German version of VNF) has called the boatyard to ask about the damage extent.
      Lesson learnt (again): A steel boat can withstand a lot more than a fibreglass boat, which probably would have had a hole in it after the lock gate fiasco.

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  5. Glad all ok with Olivia Rose,and she is looking good too. Can’t wait to hear about your travels. Awful news from Moonshadow though – can only imagine, but at least they have had good news. Take care both. Our best wishes on your travels.

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