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Old 01-18-2015, 08:10 AM   #61
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It might be a good idea to consider an ex hire boat for cruising the canals. They are technically simple and have good accommodation and can be easily hauled out when required. I have cruised most of the canals in Holland, Belgium and France, in a 39m ex commercial barge to a 12m ex broads cruiser (from the UK, Norfolk), and the broads cruiser won hands down. It can go anywhere in the canals, gets under any low bridge and uses 2l of diesel per hour cruising. With 4 solar panels you need to have no connection to shore power. Pump out of black waste is not available. You only see them at a hire base. With some 26000 km of canals in the 3 countries it would take many years to do them all, but just find a good place to moor and stay. You can stop almost anywhere for free.
Live a cruising dream where you don't have to worry if there is a hurricane. Just settle down and open another bottle.
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Old 01-18-2015, 11:21 AM   #62
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Just a wee update on Mikes post above, an ex hire boat could well be a good buy but they've been bought and maintained as workboats and 'Caveat Emptor' as they will have been thrashed by many inexperienced, inconsiderate skippers and smacked off many lock walls. Pump out of black waste is starting to be obligatory around the Etang du Thau, temporary moorings along the canal bank are still free, ports are now beginning charge, ranging from 2 nights free up to 35 euro's a night.
The solar panels are definitely the way to go if you wish to be autonomous.
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Old 01-21-2015, 08:48 AM   #63
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This canal boat subject still lingers on with me....


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Originally Posted by brian eiland View Post
Miami to Key West (& reverse) Excursion Vessel

I'm not saying a duplicate boat to that French one, but rather one that is of that 'style' but designed for the shallow waters down that route.

It might built for a reasonable price in the same method I am proposing for the Pilgrim boat re-design,....steel hull, with polypropylene honeycomb cabin/superstructure.
Redesigning the Pilgrim 40 Trawler / Canal Boat

It might even be done in a nostalgic old riverboat theme, or a Great Gabsy theme, or a wide body Trumpy-Mathis houseboat theme.

I'd be willing to bet you could put this thing together for a surprising low price, and do it right here in the USA,...so forget the Jones Act problems. And stay at the 6-person max for the first boat. (wait till you see what I have in mind for the Pilgrim redo)

If anyone has driven that route lately I'm sure they have a lot to say about the traffic. Wouldn't it be much more pleasure full to take a slow cruise down stopping at various watering holes and restaurants overnight. It would be a one-way trip so you wouldn't have to retrace your route,...just hop a small tour bus or a plane for return. Meanwhile the next charter group has made their way down their by public transit and are waiting to make a fun trip back up to Miami.
...and this style vessel.....WOW....
Trawler Forum - View Single Post - Living aboard a French canal boat
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Old 01-21-2015, 12:36 PM   #64
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French Canals

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I know that Roi Soleil operates on the Canal de Midi, and clearances there can be quite restrictive
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My question to the group of posters here is are MANY of the canals that restrictive,...or is there greater margins on many canals?? Could something like these two vessels navigate MANY of the canals?
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Most of the French canals are to a minimum size of 39m x 5.05m x 1.6m, the so called Freycenet canals named after the French Minister of the 1880's. He standardised the canal dimensions.
This is roughly the size of the old Freycenet Barges, some of which have been converted into liveaboards and cruiseaboards.
The 2 canals which are more restrictive are the canal du midi and the Nivernais. he midi suffers from water shortages sometimes in the summer and is limited to around 1m depth and 2.7m air draught with a curved profile as seen in your photos. The Nivernais has similar restrictions. Both are beautiful canals and you do not need large barges to cruise in comfort. Although my barge was 39m, I preferred to use my smaller ex hire cruiser of 11m which was extremely comfortable, warm, economical and easy to go under anything. Without the Nivernais and Midi you still have some 8000km of canals to explore in France.
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Old 01-21-2015, 02:29 PM   #65
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Most of the French canals are to a minimum size of 39m x 5.05m x 1.6m, the so called Freycenet canals named after the French Minister of the 1880's. He standardised the canal dimensions.
This is roughly the size of the old Freycenet Barges, some of which have been converted into liveaboards and cruiseaboards.
I believe the locks are 39m x 5.20m and the barges were built to a maximum of 38.5m x 5.05. That's only 15cm of total width clearance or about 3" on each side. The converted "maxi" barges we encountered on the Nivernais in 2008 were all hotel barges but there were many others of, slightly, smaller dimensions that were clearly personal cruisers/homes. The first picture is of one of the hotel barges exiting a lock on the Nivernais while we wait our turn in our little rental "tupperware" barge. The second is a private barge out of Holland. A little more clearance width and length. You'll notice they are traveling with their wheelhouse dismantled to enable clearance under the lower bridges.
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Old 03-08-2015, 03:26 PM   #66
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Hi, I cruised from Ireland to Dunkirk and have lived onboard 8 years in the French canals and am currently based in Narbonne in the South of France so I have a fair bit of practical experience.
I'm not pushing but there are 2 books on Kobo e books called, 'How To Enjoy Cruising' and 'How To Cruise Between Two Sea's' that deal with the journey from Ireland and the other deals with the canal that runs between Bordeaux on the Atlantic coast and Sete which lies on the Med.
If anyone has a question however trivial I will be happy to answer it truthfully.
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Old 03-20-2015, 10:27 PM   #67
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Old 03-21-2015, 12:25 AM   #68
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Hello Andy G,
We live on the French canals and follow the threads to see how others see us.
Regarding pollution in the canals, virtually all farmers with land adjacent to the canals extract water to irrigate their fields so the water is in fact is being constantly refreshed, the movement of boats, operation of locks and run off from the fields (the alluvial plain soil is very fine) keep the water cloudy and it's deliberately left that way for a reason.
If the water was chrystal clear weed would simply grow and choke it, the plane trees ubiquitous along the canal du Midi are there to provide shade to reduce evaporation and weed growth, their roots anchor the banks for soil stability and prevent them being undercut by passing boats wash (virtually all tourist boats go wot).
The road sign by the way means vehicles are banned Sauf(Except) Residents.


Just an aside, in Irelands lakes they had cloudy water from the run off from the hills and animal effluent, millions of pounds were spent at the insistence of the anti pollution lobbies.
An invasion of Zebra mussels ate the plankton and speeded up the cleaning process.
The clear water gave perfect conditions for an invasion of Japanese knotweed, now they constantly have to employ manpower/expensive weed cutters, many places are now impossible to navigate and the coarse fishing once the envy of Europe is markedly reduced. One step forward and two steps back.


The 'Experts' (Ex' is a has been, and a 'spert' is a drip under pressure) should think of the long term effects before upsetting the balance of nature, of course the experts are nowhere to be seen now and distance themselves from the problem they created.
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Old 06-19-2015, 06:29 PM   #69
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...a few more photos
I like this water cottage for it still has character a very boaty barge no three stories with the enclosed fly bridge and functional in canals so long as you don't get turned side ways. I could live on that maybe in my next life.
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Old 09-18-2015, 01:34 AM   #70
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Hi, I cruised from Ireland to Dunkirk and have lived onboard 8 years in the French canals and am currently based in Narbonne in the South of France so I have a fair bit of practical experience.
I'm not pushing but there are 2 books on Kobo e books called, 'How To Enjoy Cruising' and 'How To Cruise Between Two Sea's' that deal with the journey from Ireland and the other deals with the canal that runs between Bordeaux on the Atlantic coast and Sete which lies on the Med.
If anyone has a question however trivial I will be happy to answer it truthfully.
I am an Australian with limited boating experience but after a time on the Canal du Midi last year my partner and I have decided that we wish to buy a boat next year and spend a year or two (or more) of our retirement travelling the waterways of Europe. Whilst we have started a lot of reading and research we have seen little about spending winter on board. We initially thought it would be too cold to be practical but noting your comment that you have lived onboard for 8 years we wondered if you could give us some hints on what to look for in a boat that might make an all year stay practical. Any commentary would be appreciated.
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Old 09-18-2015, 02:40 PM   #71
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G'day to you Retirement Planning.
What a coincidence, my sons in the RAAF and lives in Adelaide. Small world eh !
We have a Birchwood 33 for sale on the canal du Robine (a branch off the canal du Midi) if it's of any interest to you, we can prepare it for a turnkey, engine serviced, full fuel, bedding, pots & pans etc..
To answer your question, the canal du Midi is closed for the winter from the end of October until the end of March for maintenance etc. the commercial waterways stay open all year round.
I would recommend you stay in a port where you'll be provided with electricity and water in your mooring fees. Depending on where you choose to 'hivernage' (hibernate for the winter) there are normally quite a few 'fests' over the winter as well as the weekly markets when the French enjoy themselves before the tourists arrive. If you wished to go up to Northern France I would recommend you go very early in the year before the snow melts in the Alps as the river Rhone can have a strong current, alternatively go late to miss the strong current and hivernage and begin your exploration in the spring. depending on your pocket you could truck it up.
Mooring fees are dependant on your choice of port and considerably cheaper on the canals than in a marina on the coast.
If you have any more questions I'll be happy to answer them for you.
There is some rain of course but thankfully not too much but it can feel chilly with the Tramontane wind. Snow here is rare but not unknown and rarely lasts for more than a day.
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Old 09-20-2015, 09:55 PM   #72
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G'day to you Retirement Planning.
What a coincidence, my sons in the RAAF and lives in Adelaide. Small world eh !
We have a Birchwood 33 for sale on the canal du Robine (a branch off the canal du Midi) if it's of any interest to you, we can prepare it for a turnkey, engine serviced, full fuel, bedding, pots & pans etc..
To answer your question, the canal du Midi is closed for the winter from the end of October until the end of March for maintenance etc. the commercial waterways stay open all year round.
I would recommend you stay in a port where you'll be provided with electricity and water in your mooring fees. Depending on where you choose to 'hivernage' (hibernate for the winter) there are normally quite a few 'fests' over the winter as well as the weekly markets when the French enjoy themselves before the tourists arrive. If you wished to go up to Northern France I would recommend you go very early in the year before the snow melts in the Alps as the river Rhone can have a strong current, alternatively go late to miss the strong current and hivernage and begin your exploration in the spring. depending on your pocket you could truck it up.
Mooring fees are dependant on your choice of port and considerably cheaper on the canals than in a marina on the coast.
If you have any more questions I'll be happy to answer them for you.
There is some rain of course but thankfully not too much but it can feel chilly with the Tramontane wind. Snow here is rare but not unknown and rarely lasts for more than a day.
Irish Rambler it is indeed a small world with your Adelaide connection. We are probably 6 months away from being able to seriously consider a purchase (I need to finish a few projects before I can spend an extended time overseas). I had not heard of a Birchwood so googled it and saw lots for sale in the UK. I suspect it is slightly smaller than we would prefer but I would be happy to take your advice on this. We think that we would need a minimum of 4 berths (2 cabins) and 2 bathrooms to have a reasonably viable option for our own accommodation plus family & friends who we anticipate will be looking to join us from time to time. When we travelled last year we collected our boat from Capestang and travelled to Port Lauregais so we have a general level of familiarity with the region where you are based. Is your boat double glazed and what sort of heating do you operate to make it habitable in winter? This would be even more important if we were wanting to winter in Northern France. Your assistance is appreciated.

Andrew
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Old 09-21-2015, 12:59 AM   #73
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G'day retirement planning.
The Birchwood we have just falls into the lower bracket for winter mooring charges at 33'.
The layout gives an en suite rear double cabin, centre cockpit, main saloon with dinette (can make a double bed) shower/toilet/galley and the 'V' berth also makes a double with an infill.
The boat has single glazing and a fully enclosed, lockable cockpit.
We used to use Eberspacher hot air heating but it's noisy so we use electric heating over the winter as electrics included in the port price.
In fact our heater seized up through lack of use but if you wish we could fit another one.
To use red diesel (farm diesel) in France you must use a separate tank and to be honest it's not economically viable.
Feel free to ask any other questions, we've bought another boat and are currently cruising from Ireland to Dunkirk.
If it's of any interest you can follow it if you go to
'Home Page',
scroll down to
'Voyagers and boaters on the go',
scroll down to
'Ireland to the Mediterranean Part 1'
It will give you some idea of my pedigree, I've more posts to update the site but have to wait to get a stronger Wi-Fi signal to upload the photo's.
I hope you enjoy it.
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Old 09-06-2016, 09:30 AM   #74
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I posted this over on Cruisers Forum (which has an international membership) but I would appreciate comments from you guys:

Ok, indulge me for a moment and tell me if this will or won't work as I sit here and look at the beginnings of a nor'easter developing outside (eastern North Carolina).

I can buy a converted (from a commercial barge) French canal boat for under US$100,000. These boats are 13-15 meters (40-45 feet) long and 3.5-4 meters (11-12') wide. They have all of the cruising equipment one would expect but usually propanerefrigeration and hot water heating, which limits DC usage. Some have washer/dryer units and a generator. All have decent water and fuel tankage. The only wierd thing from an American cruiser perspective is that most have DAF diesels and are built from steel hulls.

My thought is to buy one, fly over and
cruise the canals from May to Sept and then put it into dry storage for 7 months and do it again the next year. I can do virtually all maintenance myself and one would hope that the fresh water will limit steel hullcorrosion problems. Dry storage is about $2,000 for the 7 mo period. So other than the initial investment it seems to be a cheap way to cruise in a beautiful area of the world (well as much as putting along at 4 kts in a straight line can be considered cruising).

So for those who have experience with this life style, here are some questions:

I assume that like the Erie Canal in the US, cruising dockage is mostly just pulling over to the side of the canal and tying up for the night. Bistros, wine bars, grocery stores, chandleries etc should be within easy walking distance. In other words I don't have to
budget for dockage while cruising nor any shore based transportation costs (other than public transportation).

Waste disposal. Some of the boats listed on
www.h2ofrance.com have holding tanks, but most do not list one. What does one do?

Anything else that I have missed?

David

Hi David
I just find this thread, wondering if it's still active.
How far have you pushed your project, so far ?

Pilou
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Old 09-06-2016, 12:18 PM   #75
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Pilou:


Well, the wife nixed it, so....


I did a bunch of research- on line and with books. Somewhere in this thread is a list of books that was helpful.


I did get answers to the two questions:


1. You can just pull over everywhere other than bends and in developed areas. It probably isn't as easy as I imagine it, but you can find almost everything you need close by to a dock or pull over spot along the way. So other than winter storage, there is really no need to pay for dockage along the way. Somewhat like our US East Coast anchorages but with more town access I think.


2. The French and others haven't yet started insisting on holding tanks and zero discharge areas. That pretty well tells me that US rules are mostly BS.


The soft Euro has made the budget even easier. You can buy a 40' canal boat built in the 80s for less than US$75,000 or even less for a converted barge.


David
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Old 09-06-2016, 02:27 PM   #76
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Pilou:


Well, the wife nixed it, so....


I did a bunch of research- on line and with books. Somewhere in this thread is a list of books that was helpful.


I did get answers to the two questions:


1. You can just pull over everywhere other than bends and in developed areas. It probably isn't as easy as I imagine it, but you can find almost everything you need close by to a dock or pull over spot along the way. So other than winter storage, there is really no need to pay for dockage along the way. Somewhat like our US East Coast anchorages but with more town access I think.


2. The French and others haven't yet started insisting on holding tanks and zero discharge areas. That pretty well tells me that US rules are mostly BS.


The soft Euro has made the budget even easier. You can buy a 40' canal boat built in the 80s for less than US$75,000 or even less for a converted barge.


David
David

From what I have seen here, Irish Rambler is really THE specialist, his expertness and advices are valuable.

You are well informed, I also want to add a very important point :

Approximately 80 million people are touring France every year, making it the most visited country of the world. France allows US citizens to visit without a tourist visa for 3 months. If you want to stay longer, you can apply for a French long-stay visa then you must make an appointment with your local French consulate and provide the appropriate documents.

Cheers.
Pilou
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