Monday, April 2, 2018

Barge Date:  03-01-2018

2018 - The New Year

It has been about 5 months since departing Lionel...d'Antan back in October. She has wintered in Diksmuide and I hope to find her in good health on my return.

The marina where she sits needs to have winter customers move their boats by April 1 as that is when the locals begin to move their boats from winter storage to the water. So I will be flying out on March 22 to start the new year.

While you might expect that nothing goes on during the winter period for me and the boat you would be wrong.  I think I can say that my mind has been on boating in Europe nearly every hour while awake and some during my sleep.

I have been busy making some items for the boat that are small enough to be put in a suitcase.  I will highlight them in future posts once I am on board.  These are mostly little things that might make life on the boat better for living and for working. Some, for sure, are whims but one has to keep the hands working while on land. Others I hope will improve our working of the boat.

A couple of things are happening now in my absence.  We are significantly improving our solar system to insure we are, this year, energy independent.  So 4 large panels will be replacing much smaller units and will be on the wheel house roof. Down in the engine room will be a number of new controls, a monitoring system to provide clear info about the electric status and 4 new and much larger batteries just for solar storage.  Will also replace the very old battery charger with a unit that will be wired into the system.

In the wheelhouse we had 3 thermopane windows that have failed and were frosted over between panes.  I removed trim last Fall (glued on so a pane getting off) and a local shop came by and measured the window holes. He will order the glass so it can be installed when I arrive or perhaps even before.

With a better energy system I think I will be replacing the current water pump (24 volt) with one that runs on 230 volt.  Should make operation less noisy and I am hoping it will fix the shower situation. Hot water for the shower comes through an "on demand" gas operated unit in the kitchen. But as the pressure drops the unit shuts down as it is looking for a minimum pressure to continue and the current system does not keep up. So you go from a good shower experience to a cold one.  Might want to have a real plumber stop by to give me the blessing  - or not.

So with these 3 jobs now beginning I hope to arrive to find good progress.

I also want to purchase additional locking lines for the boat.  Something that will splice well, be flexible to allow easy throwing, light enough so the crew will not struggle getting the line on to a bollard and, of course, long enough and strong enough. Given the length of the boat each line will be about 22 meters. My newly designed boat hook and pole will do a lot to make locking easier and safer.

As I did last year, I must return in May this year for the high school graduation of daughter #3.  Will spend about a week in town as brother and sisters of my daughter will be flying in to celebrate.  Will also use the time to do chores around the house, something I could not do last year since my return was only to Atlanta to pick up my visa.

On that note, this year no visa.  Instead, once Marianne is with me we will go to the local office - probably in Strasbourg  - to register as residents in France. Marianne, being still a Belgian and an EU citizen, can live in any of the EU countries and I, as her loyal US husband, get to live with her.  This is the last big hurdle for me and one that I worry about because, as is, I can only legally stay in EU countries for 90 days per year. But it is there in black and white on the French web site so I cross my fingers.  Know of others in same boat (ah, a boat joke) that simply stay longer and somehow get away with it.
Question:  Our barge was named after Hart Massey's brother. Do we refer to the barge as a "he" or a "she"?

Stay tuned for new 2018 posts. 


  1. Would you be interested in being a speaker for our January or February Science Cafe? You could discuss your travels and projects to make energy efficient your boat and the difference in attitude in Europe and the US toward energy policy. Or really anything in which you think our science minded group might be interested . I so enjoy your posts.