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Old 08-11-2014, 01:42 AM   #41
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Ok, I stand corrected Marin. You have covered many more than we did. We just did most of the Warwickshire ring. I just assumed, clearly wrongly, that most of the canals had double width locks.
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Old 08-11-2014, 03:12 AM   #42
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Originally Posted by Wxx3 View Post
Welcome aboard.

I'll be in the Netherlands by October and I had always hoped to be able to do the French Canals, but it seems the air draft of my KK42 at 4.2 meters is too high.

I'm going to figure out how far in I can get from certain places, like Bordeaux for example.
Richard:
This link might be useful:

Waterway Depths, Heights and Widths | french-waterways.com
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Old 08-11-2014, 04:47 PM   #43
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Originally Posted by Marin View Post

A narrowboat is about 6' 10" wide or thereabouts. I took this photo while descending a series of locks on the Shropshire Union Canal.
How interestingly similar that photo is to the C&O canal system just up from Georgetown here in Washington DC
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Old 08-11-2014, 04:54 PM   #44
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Apres Ski

BTW, Kent did you find that vessel you might have been searching for here in the USA ?
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Old 12-01-2015, 02:47 AM   #45
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Hi BandB-

Excellent questions. For most canal cruise itineraries, the charter company will list both the number of cruising hours and the number of locks on your cruise. We have found these numbers to be very accurate, especially the ones from LeBoat.

For France in the summer, it stays light until well past 9:30pm, so your usable "day" is quite long. How long you stay in a particular port depends on what is there, and in many cases, for small towns or villages, a couple hours walking around and maybe a short bike ride is sufficient.

In our case, on our three charters before we bought our boat, we typically signed up for cruises in the 22-28 hrs per week range. We also didn't want to sign up for more than about 45 locks in a week.

Now that we own a boat, we average 17.5 hrs cruising per week, and typically move the boat 4-5 days per week. So we're operating in the spirit of 3.5-4.5 hrs per day, and staying put for a few days a week.

I would recommend that if your itinerary involves bigger cities (Dijon, Toulouse, Strasbourg, Auxerre, Chalon-sur-Saone, Epernay, etc.), you will definitely want to spend at least two - if not three - nights in each of those locations. For smaller towns like Clamecy (Nivernais), Digoin (Centre/Loire), Montargis (Loing), one or at most two nights is fine.

And apologies to anyone who takes offense at a crass commercial message, but my wife wrote the "Practical guide for European Canal Boat Charters" which will answer a lot of questions about rental cruising. The book is available in either eBook ($7.99) or paperback ($14.99) at FrenchPressUSA.com. Hopefully I didn't offend anyone by posting this link

And your final question about how far apart the ports are, we find that we often stop one or more times a day while we're cruising, either to see something interesting (old church, chateau), or to grab a baguette, or to stop in a street market. It has been our experience that there are very few places where you will cruise for 4+ hours without seeing something of interest to go visit.

Cheers!
-Kent
We are hoping to buy a boat next year with a view to spending 4 - 6 months a year cruising. We suspect that it would be too cold for us to spend longer when an Australian summer is calling. One question that I haven't been able to get a satisfacttory answer to so far has been the optimum engine power for cruising with an intention to travel on the rivers as needed to get from the south of France to the north etc. We are considering boats around 12.5 - 13 metres in length and are also debating the merits of steel vs fibreglass. Any comments on these or related topics would be appreciated.
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Old 12-01-2015, 11:49 AM   #46
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Retirement planning,
Hi there, maybe I can help throw a little light on the subject for you.
We have a few Aussies and Kiwi's in our port (Narbonne) and they tend to cruise from late April until September and then go back home for the antipodean summer.
The cruising speed on the canals is 5 knots.
The answer to suitable hp is a bit harder to give because it depends on the boat your pushing along and at what time of year you wish to go North up the river Rhone, depending on the time of year generally speaking if you can make 7 knots you'll be fine. At other times you would be burning an awful lot of diesel as your speed over ground would only be about 1/2 knots against the South flowing current.
The best time to go up the Rhone is very early in the year Jan/Feb/early March before the snow melts in the Alps. The other alternative is to cruise around the canal du Midi or up to Bordeaux in the South during the summer, or, if you have seagoing boat, either over to Italy or down the Spanish coast then come back and go up the Rhone in August/September/October and leave the boat to winter over in somewhere like Pont Vaux, river Seille or Chalon sur Saone before starting your next years cruise. Allow 5/6 days to go up the Rhone from Aigues Mortes to Chalon Sur Saone.
Many people arrive here on the canals after a hectic lifestyle on a plane doing 600 mph, take a train at 150 mph, (French taxi drivers try and emulate this) then get on a boat doing 5 knots and feel a bit frustrated because it's so slow ! it takes time to slow down mentally and learn to put the boat in gear and the mind in reverse then you can enjoy it to the full. A few people are a bit iffy at slow close quartering manoeuvres anyway and a positive menace at speed.


You live beside the Barossa valley so you'll feel right at home here cruising through the largest vineyard in the world.

Steel or Fibreglass ? steel boats are popular in Holland because the canals freeze solid in many parts and depending where you moor, it's possible to crush the hull in severe weather
Many have no oven, hot water or showers, the designs are 'classic' and many, once refurbished, are 'sold as new'. Most have no insulation and can be very cold in the winter/hot in the summer. They generally need repainting every 5/6 years.

Fibreglass boats tend to be of a more modern design with all the facilities, if you choose to buy one down in the South of France get one from a private owner as they won't be bashed about so badly as ex hire boats.
An engine service, spring clean and a good polish in the spring is usually all that's required.
If you look on the home page for 'Voyagers and boaters on the go' then scroll down to 'Ireland to the Mediterranean Part 1' I hope you enjoy it, that's my pedigree.
If you consider buying a 33' Birchwood well maintained cruiser drop me a private message, I've one for sale and could do you a 'turn key' deal, fully equipped and ready to cruise.
p.s I notice your from Adelaide, I've a son in the RAAF who lives out at Mawson Lakes, small world eh !.
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Old 12-01-2015, 06:13 PM   #47
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Thanks for that update. I have previously read some of your travel reports about the trip from Ireland. I work (for the next 6 weeks anyway until my retirement date) at Salisbury which is perhaps 2kms from Mawson Lakes.
My confusion with engine power is that I have seen advertised 35hp boats that seem to have the same fitout as boats with 150hp engines. I don't want to water ski behind anything but I don't want long river trips to be unnecessarily difficult so can't determine what is reasonable. I understan the point about the best time to travel on the Rhone and that doesn't cause us any difficulty.
We expect to be in Europe in April next year so are probably not serious purchasers until then.
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Old 12-02-2015, 04:07 AM   #48
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Hi there Retirement Planning,
Yes we visited around Salisbury when we were over to see my son and we found it very nice.
I don't want to get to long winded or I might bore you but here goes.
Some of the thinking behind cruisers having small engines is the theory that a large engine running at light loads will glaze the cylinder bores, as it never reaches optimum temperature. I think that argument is flawed because that's why engines have thermostats but that's an ongoing argument but I certainly agree that the nearer 95 degrees the more efficient the combustion. the fact that they are cheaper to fit may also have an influence, if it's an ex hire boat they usually fit smaller because the hirers to keep the boat slow moving.
I fully agree that such an engine (35) is too small to safely tackle the Rhone except in exceptionally low flow periods, even then I would be sceptical.
If a boat can do 7 knots comfortably then it would be fine, personally for the Birchwood 33 I consider the single 80 hp Perkins well able for the job, I've cruised it up the West coast of Scotland and down as far as Spain with no problems.
A 150 hp engine would be a touch on the large side for anything below 40', the reason many owners opt for the 10 metre size of boat as it's easier handled by either 1 or 2 of a crew and just slips into the lower bracket for mooring fees.
A turbocharged engine can give problems if it's running at low canal speed all the time especially if it's a bit agey and burning a drop of oil.
Contrary to popular belief a turbo works all the time but has a most noticeable effect from around 1400 revs upwards, what happens is that the smoke (unburnt fuel) over time clogs up the fins on the turbine exhaust blades and what it needs to clear it is a run at WOT for around half an hour, the engine temperature raises and combined with the higher centrifugal force on the turbine blades burns all the crud off. You can see this happening if you watch a turbo engine boat that's been tootling around and opens the throttle, there'll be a cloud of dirty smoke for 15 mins and then she'll run clear and as sweet as a nut.
I hope my explanation is clear, if you have any other queries I'll do my best to help you.
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Old 12-02-2015, 06:50 PM   #49
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That is very helpful. No doubt I will have more questions as our plans develop but at the moment I am grateful for the advice provided.
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Old 12-02-2015, 10:12 PM   #50
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Retirement Planning.
Your very welcome, if I can help in any way just let me know.
A wee point to bear in mind for any one reading these blogs and thinking of hiring a cruiser, be aware that the hire boats charge you for the hours run on the engine, this is on top of your hire charge. This can come as a shock to some, so as always, do your research.
Obviously they will 'advise' an itinery with plenty of cruising hours.
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