This year we arrived in France in mid-April and are ending our boating season at the end of July. August is the month of “vacances” (vacation/holiday) in France, so lots of boaters are on the water and mooring space is limited; it is usually quite hot; and frequently the restaurants or bakeries we want to visit are crowded or closed.
For these same reasons, many foreign boaters who live near France, such as the Swiss and British, take a break in August, going home for family activities while the waterways are crowded, returning in September after the French vacation period is done. However, because our home in Oregon is somewhat further away, we cannot just take a break and then return in September. While it seemed like a good idea in the planning stage to leave in early August, it now seems all too soon.
The end of the season means getting the boat ready for 7-8 months of storage. We have a few last minute painting and varnishing chores, but mostly we have to make sure there are no liquids or food on board, the domestic water systems are winterized with anti-freeze, the engine oil and filters are changed, and clothes and linens are all clean and packed away in plastic bags. Just before leaving the boat we will open all lockers and shift a lot of things around, e.g. bring in the gangplank, boat hooks, etc. All the long mooring lines used in locks are replaced with short “dock” lines. The last couple of nights we’ll be staying at a local B and B to make life a little more comfortable.
This year we are also simultaneously dealing with a fairly serious problem back home in Oregon: the beautiful, 50 year old apple tree that shaded most of our back yard split in two last week on a day with 95 degree temperatures. As it fell, it took out our electrical line. This then caused a small fire. Luckily my brother was there to put out the fire. He and our in-town nephew have since been involved with tree removal, insurance inspectors, and contractors. The situation has been stabilized, as they say, and awaits our return.
So we are ending the season knowing we are going home to wonderful family and friends, and Portland’s best months of the year. But we’ll very much miss our French boating lifestyle and all our friends from around the world. We’ve already started planning and looking forward to next season.
After we are home and settled, we will continue writing articles for EuropeUpClose about places we’ve visited and our boating experiences in past years.
For over eight years, Neil and Joan have been spending their summers cruising the canals and rivers of Western Europe aboard their now thirty-year-old Dutch motor-cruiser, the “Estate.” This year they are sharing their experiences.