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!


  1. Hello!
    Your plans sound wonderful!
    We also are looking for a similar boat, but with minor differences. We are four (my hub, sister and her hub). My hub has small disability, and we are both working still! So we need a boat that will suit both two and four! a
    And then we will just be doing summers: France and Australia.
    Looking at so many blogs online, I was coming to the conclusion that we are ten years too late! Everyone seemed to discover the canals in the 2000's.
    But no... maybe they finally had a medium to talk about and share their travels: the internet!

    I look forward to hearing more about your new barge and your travels.
    Shirley Peters
    (fellow DBA member.)

    1. Hi Shirley,
      How is your barge search coming along? Just letting you know that after 2 years of research on the internet and physically seeing about 10 barges we have found ours and take possession of her next week. Charmor is 21m long and nearly 4 m wide and is in the UK at the moment. So we plan to do the English canals first before braving the channel for our French adventure. It does have 2 bedrooms and they are both on the same level so means you don't have to go up and down stairs all the time.
      Anyway keep me posted on how your search is going.