Day -8 and 9 2-May-2017

Cherbourg is a large town built around its Harbor.  Children learn to sail at a very young  age as part of their school curriculum and they are out there almost every day regardless of weather conditions.  As sound carries so well over water and the wind has typically been blowing inland, we enjoy hearing their continuous laughter and chatter.  Some of these young sailors will ensure France continues to dominate in international sailing competitions. 

Youngest sailing students in Optimus prams
As children grow older the boats grow, as well

Mayday is a holiday in France and it rained all day.  This afforded us some much needed down time.  I weaved pot holders from George’s old socks, an invention of Marilla’s with a few additional tips from Nancy.  George read some of the many boat manuals.  It was delightful. 

The following day it is back to business.  George has been communicating all morning with Jean, an ALLURES workman who has come to fix the leak in the keel trunk and investigate what looks like a leak in the cabin top over the head (turned out to be condensation).  Jean does not speak a word of English, and George does not speak a word of French.  George appears to anticipate Jean’s needs (ie, a wrench, a hose, et al.,) and with a bit of charade- like gestures “Voila” there are nods of heads.  

Communicating does not always go so smoothly.  A few days later we set out to buy a 40cm X 55cm piece of plywood to build a mount for the dinghy outboard motor.  In a store that is a bit of a cross between a IKEA and a Home Depot we could only find plywood marked “Non-structural”.  I asked in my best French (a combination of words I know and words in english with my best French accent), “Je regard non-structural plywood.  Avez-vous structural plywood?”  Puzzled look.  My statement, I later discovered, translates to “I look non-structural plywood.  Have you got structural plywood?”  George goes over to the sign that says Non-structural and puts his hand over the Non.  A look of enlightenment comes over the employee and he runs off.  

Quite some time later he returns with another employee who speaks English very well and we let him know what we are looking for.  In the interim, we had found a small cut piece of plywood that was big enough and I show him a written notation of 40cm X 55cm.  He understands our request, but his expertise is in the gardening section of the store and responds that he does not know enough about building materials to advise us.  We are almost ready to give up and I see that about 20 feet to the right of the many stacks of non-structural plywood, a stack of (you have probably guessed) structural plywood.  The first employee then guides us through the store to an area where the 40cm X 55cm piece can be cut.

The piece we need and the remaining scrap and large piece of plywood are loaded back on the cart and we prepare to leave.  I get the bright idea to ask that the store keep the larger piece of plywood and explain in my Franglais that we are living on a boat.  That we will pay for the entire piece of plywood, but could the store please keep the large piece.  This third employee pulls up the Google translator on his phone and with several rounds of back and forth communication, he understands we only need the small cut piece.  He takes a few minutes calculating and then give us a bill for 2 Euros (just over 2 US dollars).  We surmise that we had thoroughly confused the man by simultaneously saying we will pay for the whole board, we can only take the small piece, can the store keep the large piece….. It took about two hours to purchase the plywood.  Everyone was so helpful and patient.

When George started to plan the installment he discovered the outboard engine is too large to fit in the locker.  Can’t wait to see how long it takes when we go to return the piece of plywood.

Love at First Site

Day 1 25-April-2017 

We arrived Tuesday morning in Paris after an overnight flight on British Airways.  We treated ourselves to Business Class seats using some of the miles accumulated during Susan’s working days.  It allowed us sufficient comfort to sleep for part of the trip and access to the airport lounge where we had a before-flight dinner and some very pleasant beer (that also helped us sleep for part of the trip).  We drove to Cherbourg, where our new sailboat was built and it was love at first sight.

The length of daylight is very long here (almost 15 hours).  Consequently, we have been fooled into staying up much too late on most evenings. Nonetheless, we adjusted to the time zone change with remarkable ease sleeping until our customary 7:00am time from the very first night. 

We are docked at an very large marina protected by two amazing barrier walls that were man-made in the 1800s. 

Entrance to marina
Port Chantereyne in Cherbourg

The picture above shows the steepness of the ramp to the floating docks – the daily tide change is 24 feet!  You can also see the popularity of sailing in France, even in this chilly Northwest harbor where temperatures are moderated by the sea ranging from the low 40s in mid winter to the low 60s in mid-summer.  We are experiencing typical weather for April and May with temperatures in the mid 50s with the best days seeing a penetrating sunshine in the afternoons.

Day 2-7 26-April-2017 – 31-Apr-2017

We spent the first week unpacking and stowing the 500 lbs of gear we carried over on our combined trips in January and this trip.  This was an arduous undertaking in parallel with getting an in depth overview of ICE FLOE deux’s (henceforth ICE FLOE) systems from Phillippe Hasne, an expert on the ALLURES  from Grand Large Services, and having every inch of ICE FLOE inspected by Brad Baker, a part owner of SwiftsureYachts, the US company we purchased ICE FLOE from.  Brad’s inspection raised a number of issues that were quickly attended to with a flurry of workmen working in the boat alongside us.

We took our first sail on April 29th.  It was a short sail in light wind.  We were accompanied by Brad, Francois (ALLURES salesman) and David (a British national living in New Zealand who came to Cherbourg to see the ALLURES 39.9).  The sail  gave us an opportunity to see ICE FLOE function admirably in low wind and to be tutored by Brad on many functionalities we had not enjoyed on our previous boat.  ICE FLOE deux is not “just” a bigger boat than her predecessor;  we have much to learn to take full advantage.

Our second sail was on April 30th in winds approaching 20 knots.  It was a beautiful sunny afternoon and an outstanding sail.  We sailed consistently over 8 knots. Unfortunately, the most memorable part of the sail was when we discovered a leak in the keel trunk.  This required nothing more than some additional silicone cauking, but it did take quite a bit of time to bail out the bilge and flush it repeatedly with fresh water – another late night!!   

Second sail

To France and the Mediterranean

Day -24. March 31, 2017

It’s official.  We are headed to France to pick up our new sailboat “ICE FLOE deux” for our sail through the interior of France via canals and rivers to the Mediterranean.  This part of the trip includes 179 locks (water elevators), several aqueducts (bridges with a water channel for the boat), and lastly tunnels (holes through mountains), that collectively, get us over / through the Alps.  

We just received our long term VISAs – what an  adventure we had applying at the French Consulate in Washington, DC.  Documentation requested included a French translation of our birth certificates, evidence of sufficient financial assets and medical insurance, declarations that we would not seek work in France, an address for where we would be staying (tricky), et al.

What nearly tripped us up was the traffic in Washington, but George came through, as always, and delivered me to the front door as the clock struck 9:00 am, the time of my appointment.

In preparation for our trip, George needed certificates in evidence of his sailing skills and knowledge of how to navigate France’s interior waterways.  In all, this required 100 plus hours of study, completion of two written exams, and a practical exam in Houston, TX.  I was tasked with re-learning French, to a tune of about 3 hours of Rosetta Stone so far.

ICE FLOE deux is in her last stages of construction.  To outfit her we carried 200 lbs of equipment when we traveled to France this past January, and will bring another 300 lbs when we fly to begin our trip.  Our guests on this adventure will include Nancy and Bruce, who will join us for a part of the trip through France, and  Marilla, Mitch, Allison, Mike, Riley, and Tristan, who will join us in the Mediterranean.  Marilla and Mitch are transporting two paddle boards and Allison and Michael will bring sleeping bags for Tristan and Riley.  For the duration, we have saddled Riley with care of our rabbit Dickory, and Margaret and Burt with our beloved Chaze.    Diana will keep an eye on the house. We appreciate everyone’s support.

We’ve moved

Blogger to WordPress

Hello to all,
Our blog platform has switched from Blogger to WordPress.  In theory, this should not create any change in the manner in which you access this Blog and all the Posts that have been published will be there.
You will see some changes:

  1. If you want to continue or start receiving emails with new posts, you may need to sign up again.  On the home page you will find a column on the right that in the photo below with a big red circle.  Just add your email address and click the follow button.
  2. The Blog’s Homepage and Posts page have the posts organized by date (Archives) and “Destinations” on the right side of the page also identified with a red eclipse. If your interests lie mostly with a particular destination, you can select it and those are the blogs it will bring up.
    1. A new destination will be added soon – Sailing the French Canals
  3. The transfer of some of the photos introduced some distortion that I may or may not be able to fix in the future.
  4. A few past blogs are still missing – should be restored in the next several days.

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