Where has the boat gone?

Hello and welcome to the latest blog from The Olivia Rose Diaries on May 1st 2022.

Swathes of wild garlic in woods along canal.
So delicate in close up.

The past week hasn’t quite gone to plan, but luckily we never have that much of a plan. We found ourselves in need of a part for the boat – I shall spare you the technical details – and so decided to stay in the port at Chatillon en Bazois to wait for the delivery. All we needed was a pack of O-rings of a very specific size, which we thought would have been a simple enough thing to source. Pre-Brexit we could have had it here on overnight courier and been on our way in 24 hours, however we have stopped buying anything at all from the UK now, sadly, due to taxes and problems with deliveries. Instead we ordered it in Europe but, even doing it through DHL, the delivery was supposed to be up to four days from placement of the order. Our tiny little package arrived in Paris on May 28th but now all progress has stalled. It’s only three hours away, but it won’t get here for a week. Presumably DHL are cutting costs and are now using donkeys instead of vans.

There is nothing to do in these situations but shrug your shoulders and look for some nice things to do while you wait. Our extended stay has given us a lovely opportunity to spend plenty of time with boating friends who have recently bought a house in this town. We’ve also hit the road in our camper van and spent a couple of nights camping with some other friends. Sometimes Plan B turns out to be better than Plan A.

Rape fields out in full flower.

All was well until we arrived back from our mini-camping trip and drove down the lane that looks down on the port. I looked for Olivia, who should have been sitting alongside, and couldn’t see her.

‘Where is she?’ There are times when your brain can’t catch up with what it is seeing. A big blue boat, 13-metres long, is hard to miss, but she definitely wasn’t there.

‘I can’t see her,’ I could hear the disbelief in my voice, quickly turning to panic. ‘Where is she?’

I don’t have a photograph of where she was moored up when we left but the one below will remind you of what we were expecting to see.

A mooring spot from several days ago.

The next picture shows you what we saw instead, four boats moored up stern-to in the exact space we had left Olivia two days ago. (For the non-boaters amongst you, the term stern-to means with their back ends against the quay, rather than ‘alongside’ which is where the entire length of the boat is moored against the quay).

Four boats instead of one.

‘I can see her!’ exclaimed Michael. ‘She’s in the middle of that lot, the third one along. And she’s badly tied up – the next boat is wedged up tight on her bow.’

Up close and personal.

We parked the van, walked over and indeed there she was, sandwiched in a row of white plastic hire boats. Within seconds the port master had joined us, anxiously explaining that he had to move us to make space for the hire boats. He added that he hoped it didn’t inconvenience us too much being stern-to but we had nothing to worry about as he was very used to moving boats and there had been no difficulties in pulling her into her new position. At this point I made a determined effort not to catch Michael’s eye.

The fact that we are foreigners puts us at a disadvantage in situations like this as we are not sure what the rules are for moving people’s boats or whether this was a common occurrence. If it had happened to a French person they would either have shrugged their shoulders or had a major row about it. In the interests of good Anglo-French relations we decided to take the shoulder-shrugging option and accept the situation. Having said that, we’re not looking forward to having neighbours this close. There are literally inches between our boats which means that if they so much as sneeze we shall know about it. This is why we usually moor up in the countryside, rather than in marinas. Unfortunately, we can’t leave, much as we’d like to, as the boat doesn’t work without the spare part that we are waiting for. We’ll just have to endure until the DHL donkey arrives and make the best of it.

We looked up the details of the boat wedged up closest to us on-line, just to see how much it would cost to hire it. It’s called a Triton 1050, which means it is 10.5 metres long, only two thirds the length of Olivia and yet apparently it can accommodate between six to eight people. I cast a sceptical glance at the dining table, no more than a thin bench and figured you might squeeze six, very thin people around it at a push and only if they kept their elbows firmly against their sides, but there wouldn’t be room for six plates. I can’t begin to imagine how the sleeping accommodation, shower and toilet has been configured – bunk beds would seem the only option.

Off-season (March or November) this rental boat would cost 989 € for a week, rising to 1799 € in July and August. The boat itself is battered and beaten, and the curtains in the galley have fallen off their hooks and are hanging lop-sided and unloved. We’ve come across so many of these boats in our five years on the water and this isn’t the first time we’ve seen them looking like this. I often wonder how people feel when they turn up and see what their money has bought them for a week. They could upgrade to a different company who supplies smarter boats and a better class of interior finish, but in either case it is a huge amount to pay for a holiday, particularly if it’s for a family. Perhaps it wouldn’t be so bad for two or three couples who can share the cost, although everyone is going to know each other very well indeed by the time their week is over – there can be no secrets and no privacy in such confined quarters!

However, that is quite enough about the human side of things. I’ll leave you with a picture of the chateau just along the canal and a video. At first sight it looks like a black shadow in the water, but look closer and you’ll see it is endlessly moving, a shoal of tiny black fish. I guess these might be catfish but I know nothing about fish or fishing. Whatever they are, they’re quite mesmerising. I haven’t given any commentary on it – you can enjoy the bird song instead (if you listen hard enough!)

Fishy video

Hope all is well with you. See you next week.


10 thoughts on “Where has the boat gone?

  1. You must be far more diplomatic than me – I would have ‘exploded’ if someone had moved Donana like that. I assume the part with ‘the donkey’ is associated with the engine, not your drinking water? The incident reminded me of my car keys that I lost in Portsmouth harbour, and after many painful hours eventually recovered with a powerful magnet that I bought for the purpose. Not helpful for you, but I do understand the annoyance!


    1. Hi Antony. Sometimes it’s difficult to know how to react – we’re not overly pleased as you can imagine. But it’s a Bank Holiday in France today, the canal is shut, so nobody on these boats. Bracing ourselves for tomorrow…


  2. It must have been a heart-stopping moment when you arrived back to what appeared to be no boat. I hope the much-needed part turns up soon. We no longer buy anything from the UK, but we’ve heard horror stories of people being presented with charges several times the value of the goods.


  3. Tourist board in Beaulieu sur Loire told us a few years ago that the shoals were black bream, special to the area. At the time we had our grandson on the boat for whom we visited the tourist office to get him a fishing permit.
    As a note , have read your books but not put two and two together in as much as we know Gannay, infact our boat Lizzie is at the moment on the hard there after being craned out by Mark, have seen your boat but not realised who it belonged to. We started 12 years ago on the Nirvernais at Vermenton, but do not live in France. Happy Cruising.


    1. Hi Doreen. What a small world! Thank you for the fish information. We’re not far from Vermenton now, have apparently been there before but I can’t remember it yet! Best wishes. MJ


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