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Old 03-12-2019, 11:21 AM   #21
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We retraced our previous route for our journey back to Narbonne.

Photo's
1, The tranquil canal du Midi in winter.

2,The 'Le Boat' hire boat base at port Cassefieres that Jay referred to.

3,Almond trees in blossom gave an air of impending spring.

4,Approaching the sept ecluse (7 locks) going up .

5,You have to make sure you are moored correctly when the lock keepers open the sluices.

6,This brings many ooh's and aaah's from the crowd of onlookers.

7,Looking back 'downhill'.

As I've explained the boat was for sale and we serviced the engine/gearbox, checked all electrics and mechanicals, supplied all new bed linen, quilt, pillows etc. pots pans, utensils, plates, cutlery and glasses and valeted the interior ready for any inspection.
We feel that by presenting the boat in this condition is showed good faith and would help to sell the boat.

And the result of all our hard work ?

The prospective buyer met us back at our base in Narbonne and after some gentlemanly negotiations bought the boat .
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Old 03-12-2019, 12:04 PM   #22
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We boat owners in the lower part of the canal du Robine in the town of Narbonne have to move our boats up through the town centre lock into the upper part of the canal each winter as the local authority 'the VNF, Voie Navigable France) drains the lower part of the canal. This makes simple things like receiving your post or a parcel a problem for the post and delivery men. The area we're moved to is not the most savoury part of town and there was a brand new inflatable stolen, several attempted break-ins of boats and cars were thwarted by our team vigilance and something had to be done.

Below Narbonne there are vintners and rice growers who have the right to drain water from the canal to irrigate their crops.
The boat owners and agricultures normally live in harmony, however these farmers utilize sluices and they generally need some annual maintenance as well as any normal canal bank repairs as necessary.

Because the town of Narbonne has a 30 year contract with the VNF to run the port it's the towns responsibility to provide electricity and water for these 25 displaced liveaboard boats.
The initial installation cost the town 40,000 Euro and each consecutive year costs 22,000 Euro which negates any profit the port generates.
I decided to do something about it and organized a petition of the boat owners to install a movable barrier to put a stop to this annual disruption.

The mayoral elections a looming in the summer and I heard on the grapevine that water conservation has became a hot topic in the town hall so I felt the time was right to strike and make a presentation.
Each time the canal is drained we lose 86,400 metric tonnes of water and with water conservation a hot topic and election looming it makes politicians nervous.

I'll let you know in due course if we're successful, even if we are it will take one more draining of the canal to install the barrier.
Getting anything done in France is like two elephants mating, there's lots of screaming, tramping of grass and bushes flattened accompanied by more screaming and trumpeting, even then it takes 2 years to get results !

Photo's.
1, Turn this photo, it's obviously the metal insert.

2,A better vertical shot of a barrier installation about 40 miles away.

3, These metal gates are simply lowered into the slots by crane.

Its not rocket science it just needs common sense, the 'one off' cost of this would be 30,000 Euro and 2,000 each time a crane has to lower these barriers in place.
The result for us boat owners though would be peace and contentment and in the long term we'd be saving the town money and conserving water. A win win situation for everyone.
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Old 03-14-2019, 12:03 PM   #23
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Because of the canal closure and the need to get the 'other' boat ready for our prospective, and subsequent sale, the journey to and from the shipyard we thought we'd take a wee break.
So we began to look around for a 5* foxhole somewhere warm and friendly where we could chill out and relax for a while.
We mostly use a site called groupon.fr to search for travel deals and chose a weeks holiday in Malta.
Malta's familiar with me from its days as a British colony, I brought my young family here many many moons ago to teach them the world and escape the winters in Ireland and I love it, the Maltese people are warm and friendly having been a British possession for over 200 hundred years everything still has a British 'feel' to it, the universal language being English, the Maltese have their own language of course which is a mixture of Sicilian/Lebanese and Arabic.
Like the majority of the Mediterranean countries it's been fought over by various factions over the centuries, even right back to the Phoenicians and each passing conqueror left their mark in one form or another.
Malta is the only country I know that's been awarded a military medal, the George Cross, which is proudly worn on the top left hand corner of its national flag.
This award was given to the island for its outstanding courage and resilience in the face of constant bombardment during WW2.
Malta holds a key strategic position in the Mediterranean, whoever held Malta held the key to North Africa and this played a significant part in Erwin Rommel's defeat in North Africa.
During the war the Axis powers (Germany and Italy) tried to bomb British held Malta into submission, they failed.
The defending forces were undermanned and had just 3 old bi-planes, Faith, Hope and Charity as air defence against the Italian Aeromachi and German Junkers and Stuka dive bombers.
These old bi planes were patched, repaired and re-patched each time they went into, and returned from, battle. Being slow they had many advantages and disadvantages and gave a tremendous account of themselves as the pilots and ground crews worked miracles to keep them flying.
The shipyard in Valetta played a crucial part in keeping the British fleet operational and the Maltese marine engineers are among some of the best in the world.
The Maltese people are well used to making the very best use out of anything they can find, from the very rocks on the island and anything that grows on it.
You're welcome to come with us over the next few posts as we look around Malta.
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Old Yesterday, 11:14 PM   #24
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I'm a bit slow on the pics as the internet was very slow and wouldn't upload photo's but were back in business now.

Photo's,
1,Passing over the coast of Sicily which is 60 miles out from Malta.

2,3, Apologies for turned photo, we were using a Samsung Galaxy8.

4,5 Approaches to Malta, if you click to enlarge the main town/port of Valetta's clearly seen.

6,Because its a small island anywhere that's not rocky is cultivated.

7,Valetta from the airport. The Maltese people are very religious Catholics and you can't look in any direction without seeing beautiful churches.
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Old Yesterday, 11:26 PM   #25
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Photo's.
1,Where is Malta ?

2,Time for a siesta. One of the things you notice about Malta is the number of cats everywhere, I never did find any reason other than that they simply love them. Everybody feeds them and they even have shelter boxes for them in some places.

3,These decorative bowls were initially meant for flowers but the cats took them over as the stone retains the heat and they fit just nice and comfy.
The cats are fed 3 times a day by the hotels and locals wherever they are.
These cats have tourist baiting down to a fine art better than any human being, right down to the cute purr and happy face and rubbing against your leg to get petted and do you know what ? I never saw anyone resisting, one lady even said she hates cats 'but my, these are so cute'.

4. Our route to Malta, we drove from our home port Narbonne to Marseille to catch the flight to Luqa airport in Malta. Luqa airport was the base for those biplane's, Faith, Hope and Charity I mentioned earlier. They were relegated to spotting roles when they were reinforced by Spitfires and Hurricanes in 1942 and the roar of the Rolls-Royce Merlin engines defending Malta were music to the ears of the Maltese people who suffered so much while under siege and from the German and Italian bombers.

5, Malta and its islands of Comino and Gozo.
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