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.