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Wednesday, March 11, 2020

Barge Date:  03-11-2020

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Good news.  You now have the option to receive an email each time I activate a new post. Look above, just under the barge picture.  If you will enter your email address you will be enrolled for my Lionel...d'Antan posts.

Monday, February 10, 2020

Future Prep Work for Traveling

Barge Date:  02-10-2020

Took the 4 hour trip to Atlanta for this year's version of the French visa.  The process went well.  Two of the employees remembered me from last year.  Will keep it simple - 180 days "long stay visa".  That should cover me from April through September and depending on when we actually arrive and the days out of France (back for the wedding) I could stay well into October.  The key, I think, for the long stay is to tell them about the boat so they know what is going on.  Received the passport with visa back in about 10 days.

Received an unusual gift for Xmas.  How Marianne came upon this unique gift was just happenstance but we must take what is offered.  Will travel with us to the boat this year. Sorry, not my life story; just lined pages so I can start one.

Freakin' Awesome
The big picture look at where we will be traveling this year is to say south and southeast of Paris. To get there we will take the Canal de Bourgogne (Burgundy Canal) northeast from our winter port of Auxonne. The first leg of the summer adventure has the small city of Auxerre as our target. This is a trip of 284km, 199 locks and 1 bridge. We start at 185 meters, climb up to 370 meters then drop to 96 meters. There is a tunnel at the top that is about 3.5km in length. We end up on the River Yonne. We have made plans to winter in Auxerre.

The Canal de Bourgogne had its beginning in 1775 and was completed about 55 years later.  But as early as 1605 surveys were underway as to where to dig the ditch.  So an old canal (there are older ones) and it  has been a major route between Paris and the north and the Med and the south of the country.

The blue tracks to the west of the red and up to Paris will be our playground this year.

The general timetable for getting going this year is to leave the US April 10 or 11. We will enter France at Paris.  Depending on the arrival time we may stay a night to get our sea legs.  Then it is down to Dijon on a fast train and then the local to Auxonne.  We will want to make Auxerre by the week of May 25 as we will leave the barge here for our return for a wedding on May 30.  We may fly into Pittsburgh to make things a bit easier.  Following the wedding we will return to Thomasville for a short stay before heading back to France.

Marianne will once again seek a house sitter for this early part of the year. Anyone reading this might want to consider moving to Thomasville for some of the period we are France; this year or next.  Great place to spend some time.  Mike and Vicki enjoyed their 6 weeks here last year.

Monday, January 13, 2020

2020 And We Are Ready

Barge Date: 01-13-2020

Yes, Barge Time is Approaching

It is not too soon to be thinking about returning to the barge. But to confess, I think about the boat every day.  Would love to be on board at this very minute.

Preparations for our return are happening.  Purchased the French license today. This is for 365 days but we will probably return late August or September. The little projects to be done in the shop are mostly completed.  I have been working on a very large china hutch since September and it has literately taken up a big spot in the shop.  I am doing the finishing work now and hope to deliver it to Andrew and Christina in February if it is not cold it Pittsburgh.

I do get some boat satisfaction everyday because I can look at Lionel via a camera that is positioned at the marina.  I left the boat with a bright LED light shining out the port window to tell me the electric is on so batteries are being maintained.  Here are 2 pictures

Obviously my neighbor has copied me. Lionel is the lower light.

You might think this concern for the boat is over the top. But in December a new built barge sank under unusual circumstances. The barge was tied up properly and supposedly under the eye of marina people but things happened.  This part of France was getting much needed rain but perhaps too much in a short period.  It happened during the night.  A power station has a dam with water behind it and the people in charge decided there was a need to release a big slug of water during the night and it would seem without considering what would happen down stream.

The barge was tied along with others but with the owner back in the UK.  By the time the alarm was raised water was coming up very fast. Those on board their boats had a lot to do very quickly and did not have the opportunity to adjust the lines for this ill-fated barge.  Tied fast, the boat rose with the water and this caused the port side of the boat to go under and it began receiving water.  The water penetrated the interior and she went under;  not even visible.

But there is more bad news for the owner.  The fine insurance he has seems to be a scam.  Some Spanish company that has been identified at crooked but this is news to the owner. Perhaps he has a case against the fellows upstream that caused the rush of water but that is somewhere in the future. Big expense to bring the barge up.  It is floating now but life will never be the same.

And then there is the general risk that some clown will come along at night looking for a barge to set adrift.  This year I will be using some chain for a secure hold to the shore.  If I will be gone for a number of days and I am on a river I plan to drop the anchor and some  chain.

I had the marina do an alteration to some pipes in the bilge.  This location is the low point for water on board.  Two of the pipes had very small taps and a large pipe that brings water from the bedroom storage had no way to drain.  So I asked for changes that will allow me to connect a hose so I can drain the system completely.  I have an old 24v pump from the old water pressure system and a 24v outlet 1 meter away so I am ready to go.

Monday, December 30, 2019

Barge Date:  08-28-2019

Too Early a Return to US

We returned from our train travels to find the barge high and dry and all work completed. We spent the night on the boat but by 9am it was on the short trip to the water.  Just like it came out it went back in.  This was a Friday so we asked if we could stay tied at the ramp.  Of course we have to pay for the work which is always a downer.

We had a last meal in SJdL that evening.  Most note that this little town has better restaurants than Auxonne.

On Saturday we set off for Auxonne and our winter mooring.  I have to say that the cleaning of the hull to remove junk and those little snails seemed to make a good difference in our speed.  For this trip we were going against the river current and it seemed to run faster at our normal rpm.

Arrival in Auxonne had us mooring at a temporary spot until the captain could move some boats around.  He is already getting boats in for the end of the summer season. So the time is right for starting to get deck items stored.  I changed the oil in the engine in 20 minutes;  do love that new spin-on filter.

Our final spot in the marina was a bit of a challenge. But slow is pro and with the help of several people we were able to our slip, rotate clockwise and back into our spot; just a few slips from the marina office. Got a complement from someone about the good handling.

Proceeded to do work.  The engine cooling system has part of the flow using canal water.  This has to be purged of water and then add anti-freeze.  With help of another boater we got this done.  The water tanks needed to be drained.  This is always a concern for me.  Am I doing enough?  This year I was able to purchase some food grade anti-freeze and this I added to the main port tank once I could no longer get water purged.  Will have to flush this out next year.  The forward water tanks were emptied.  I wait to do  the toilets to the last.

My bike, for some reason, had a flat.  I was able to change the tube but on a return from the brico I got a second flat.  I had checked the rim prior to the new tube but I am guessing there is something there that is causing the trouble.  It will have a flat all winter.

We leave hoping all is correct but I worry each year when I walk away. So another year in the log book.  Hope to be back in April, 2020.

Monday, September 23, 2019

Road Trip

Barge Date:  08-17-2019

Road Trip

While the boat is out of the water we are taking a road trip to Lyon, Antibes and Avignon.  Will let the pictures do the talking.


This city, the 3rd largest in France, is nestled between the Saone and Rhone rivers. For people on a barge wanting to travel to the Med and the Canal du Midi, you must go through Lyon.  It was easy to spend 5-6 days here.  We had a small apartment just north of this first picture, one block from the Soane. At this location there are many things to see and visit on both sides of the river.

This is the Saone river.  Just a few K south the Rhone river joins.

All of these pictures are in the older part of town, the tourist area.

The Fnac store has a special entrance, don't you think?

We saw many buildings with painted murals.  This shows famous Lyonnais. See more below.

I like this shot.  There are several pedestrian bridges over the Saone.

T. Jefferson was here back when he was ambassador. 1787

A look across a large square towards the Basilica.

The Basilica.

A view from the base of the Basilica.  New Lyon is in the distance with tall buildings.

To get up to the Basilica you can take a cable car. Two cars, one going up that is counter balanced
with a car going down hill.

More wall art.

This mural has be repainted several time and updated.  See video below.

The chef is the famous Paul Bocuse.


Antibes is on the Med just east of Cannes.  We again had a small apartment just a few blocks from the beach. There is an old walled city with lots of small streets and "paths" to explore.  The water temperature was a bit cold for me, but this did not stop many others from diving in.  And lots of boats in the harbors.  We took the train to go to Nice for a day and enjoyed a lengthy ride on a tour bus.

Note the plane on approach to Nice.


Our last major stop is one of France's favorite towns, Avignon.  The city with the bridge that ends mid-stream.  It was the home of many Popes for a time.  Take a look.