Friday, March 29, 2013

A New Adventure

We are soon to embark on a new endeavour. The aim is to cruise the canals of Western Europe for several years. There are approximately 8000 miles of canals in Europe so we have plenty of waterways to explore. And there are plenty of sights to see and foods to sample along the way.
Arzwiller Hydraulic lift
The photo to the right shows one of the engineering feats on the canal near Sauverne in the Alsace region of northern France. This hydraulic lift replaces 17 locks that used to take all day to get through. Now you sail your barge onto the lift at the bottom and sail out again at the top - all in about 30 minutes.
We have done plenty of homework on the type of barge that we would like to buy and we hope that we can find one that we can live on year round if necessary. The canals close down during winter so if we can't find a reasonably warm winter berth then we will drive to warmer climes for a few months.
Dutch barge on the Canal du Midi
Our first step is to do a barge handling course. We are doing this in a little town north of Paris called Cambrai, where we get the opportunity to run the gauntlet of locks, learn how to secure the barge with a variety of knots and learn some of the theory of navigation on a waterway. Then we are off to view barges - and there are plenty to see. From original working boats that have been converted to comfortable accommodation to modern replicas that have all the modern home comforts - they also come with varying price tags. 
As we travel around we will keep you updated on the amazing places we visit, the tasty food we try and the variety of friendly people we are told wander the canals of Europe.
A la prochaine!