Would you like a guided tour of Olivia Rose?

Hello and welcome to The Olivia Rose Diaries on April 10th 2022.

Misty morning on the canal. Temperatures went below freezing last night. When a boat is in the water it is insulated, but we are up on chocks and the boat is noticeably colder because of it.

Boats are fascinating creatures. There are so many different sizes, shapes and layouts. One of the many joys of this life is meeting not just new people but also their boats.

English narrowboats, wide-beam Dutch barges, huge commercial barges that have been turned into floating hotels, catamarans, yachts, electric boats, steel-hulled motor cruisers, and fibre-glass holiday rental boats – we’ve seen them all, with prices as varied as the boats themselves. At one end of the scale we met a lady who had bought a small yacht for just one pound. Admittedly it was on its death bed, but she turned it round and got it back on the water. We’ve seen second-hand cruisers selling for between £40,000 up to £250,000, with hotel barges around the £500,000 and upwards. If you’re looking for brand new or custom-built boats the sky is the limit.

We bought Olivia Rose five years ago for £50,000 and I have yet to find a boat that I find more pleasing and practical. She’s a sturdy, modest steel-hulled motor cruiser, not too big at 13 metres long by 3.5 metres wide so we can get into most mooring spots, but large enough to comfortably live aboard.

The last two years on the water have been hit hard by Covid and travel restrictions and so it has not given us the social life we had come to take for granted. We are hopeful that things will get back to normal this year, but we’ll have to wait and see how it goes. As I haven’t had the pleasure of welcoming anyone aboard and giving them a guided tour for so long I thought you might like one. Below are a few pictures of our inside living space, but you’ll have to take us as you find us. When space is at a premium it is important to keep a tidy ship, but we are not tidy people so it is a constant battle. Things get stuffed into nooks and crannies, of which there are no shortage, and every couple of years I empty them out and start again.

This is our seating area in the wheelhouse. Lots of storage under the benches. It’s got windows all round so it’s a light, sunny space.
The dining table down in the galley which also folds down to make a double bed. More storage under benches here too.
Evening shot of galley. Open-fronted cupboards for glasses and very deep cupboards underneath work surface. If you look out of the window you can see the crane that is going to lift us back into the water next week.
The cabin – or bedroom in non-boat-speak – with a walk around bed.
Back into the wheelhouse and the indoor driving position which is never used. Come rain or shine, Michael prefers to drive out on top deck where the visibility is better.
If you’ve ever wondered where the engine is, it’s under the floor in the wheelhouse. The floor is split into three removable panels – you can see the first one has been lifted up in the picture. Whenever anything needs doing Michael has to squeeze himself in there, always accompanied to much moaning and swearing as there is so little room. It’s deeper than it looks. When he gets his feet on the bottom you can just see his head and shoulders peeking out from the floor.
Up on top deck and as you can see I have made a start on the herb garden – rosemary, thyme, mint and parsley.

After the simplicity of Le Shack, Olivia feels luxurious – a full-size fridge, oven and washing machine and hot water on tap – bliss! The weather has finally turned dry and sunny so we are busy painting the hull below the waterline so that she can be lifted back into the canal next week. Then we’ll allow a couple more days to sort out the inevitable teething problems that always come after a winter of inactivity and after that we shall be off. The first stage of our cruising this year will be to head north up the Canal du Nivernais, one of the most beautiful of the French canals, on our way to Paris.

Moving on to a completely different subject this weekend is an important one in France as it is when the first round of the presidential elections are held. Macron had been the favourite to win but Marine Le Penn has gained ground and it just might be a closer-run contest than previously expected. Le Penn is on the political hard right, with strong views on immigration and foreigners, and if she were to win it could impact on us. It is hard to believe that things could change sufficiently to make life here difficult for British ex-pats, but we are living in an age where things that we never believed could happen are doing exactly that. The final round of voting takes place in late April, so we shall soon know if it is business as usual or new ground for all of us.

Hope the sun is shining on you wherever you are.

See you next week.


11 thoughts on “Would you like a guided tour of Olivia Rose?

  1. MJ, Hi – thank you for the boat tour.  Looks fantastic.  We still have the boating dream but house maintenance here in Sydney has slowed us down plus the need for eye and foot surgery.  We cancelled our 80 day French extravaganza for summer 2022.  Omicron was raging late last year and we didn’t want to risk traveling and getting stuck somewhere as a result of a positive rest. Now we have an ego maniac threatening nuclear war.

    I am still optimistic re buying a boat and was initially interested in the barge style (Piper) but there are many drawbacks unless its huge and then there is another problem – its huge. Main issue on the barge style is lack of window space.  So I have been exploring motor cruisers.  Trying to find a motor cruiser style with a walk around bed and a galley plus kitchen with windows isn’t easy. Olivia Rose seems to have all these desirable features. Could I ask who was he maker and is it a known style? I’ve also come to the conclusion that barging/boating needs a special approach to life – not too serious and able to handle stress and issues with nonchalance. Total dedication to boating is also required.  Extremely well organised is also a key requirement. 

    Fingers crossed that we will get there eventually. Keep up the entertaining blog.            

    Regards,Lloyd Davies+61 (0) 412 256 199



    1. Hi Lloyd. Great to hear from you and sorry to hear you won’t be coming over this year. Good luck with the surgery. Olivia is a Dutch cruiser, known as a ‘Molenkruiser Type 13. I think it is a fairly well known style, although we couldn’t find any others exactly like this when we were looking for a boat. They might be more common in Netherlands??
      Take care.


  2. Fascinating to see inside Olivia Rose! Thank you for the guided tour. I love your galley kitchen. Remarkably spacious, and everything designed for compact living. It reminds me very much of the boat a cousin and her husband lived on right in the centre of Paris for many years. The boat was moored near le Pont Alexandre III, so they had all the wonderful sites a step away. They did have to decamp when the river got too high some winters. She was moored permanently, except for one cruise down the Marne.

    Reading your post kept the outside world at bay for a while. I am biting my fingernails about the presidential elections. We have been in France for 25 years and cannot see how we could up sticks and move back to the UK. And I believe it would be a disaster for France, not just personally, if a certain person were elected. The older I get, the more I come to the reluctant conclusion that we learn nothing from history.


    1. Hi Vanessa. Yes we are waiting for the results this evening as well. We’re not leaving France!! They’ll have to drag us out, kicking and screaming!! But I can’t believe it will come to that…hope I don’t have to eat my words.


  3. Loved the tour, great photos, MJ. I’m excited to cruise ‘with you’ this summer, looking forward to it.
    Enjoying the book very much, btw, about halfway done, hope to finish this week. Au revoir!


  4. Thanks for the tour Mary-Jane, she’s a lovely boat and what luxury after your land home! Should your Nivernais plans work out, there is some chance we might meet. Catharina is currently at Migennes and we will be back there in six weeks time.


  5. Looks like the weather has been kind to you for the painting. We are not due to arrive in Gannay until the 9th May so will not see you before you leave so hope all goes well and have a safe trip.
    Sandra and Bryan


    1. Morning both! We wondered when you would get back. Second Lady is looking fine and weathered the strong winds last week. Nou nou did her usual so we had to pull her back in as she was straddling the width of the canal. Happy cruising when you get to it!


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