Olivier, the yard manager, came right down to the boat, took a look and called over the yard engineer. “C’est bizarre” they said as they looked at the arrangement. The boat would have to come out of the water on the yards floating drydock for a fix, maybe next Monday (a week!). Later in the afternoon, Olivier said maybe they would be able to lift the boat Wednesday. Late in the afternoon Wednesday we returned to the office to see about Thursday. Olivier said maybe Thursday afternoon. Minutes after we returned to the boat he came overn with a plan nouveau. We were to move into the drydock immediately and they would lift us first thing in the morning. Which they did.
Up we go!
Donatio, the yard engineer, took things apart and determined that we needed a new bearing and seal for the propellor shaft. After a chat with his supplier, Olivier said that the bearing was no problem but the seal had to come from the Netherlands and wouldn’t arrive until next Wednesday. With the shaft removed, however, there was a big hole in the back of the boat. The yard workers put a plate over the hole and we were lowered back into the water just about noon. With the propellor sitting on the back deck, we pulled Oldtimer out of the drydock and back to the mooring place by hand. Now we would wait.
July 14, Bastille Day or Fete Nationale, is France’s 4th of July, celebrated with some of the most elaborate fireworks displays we’re ever seen. Even the smallest towns and villages put on some type of show, some the day before and some the day of. Wednesday night we had two shows in opposite directions visible from our back deck, one in Courchelettes and one in Corbehem. Thursday night was the big show in Douai. Another couple on our same track we’ve been emailing with this year, Ian and Lisette from Melbourne, Australia, had pulled into Douai the day we reached Despinoy. Their barge had wintered in Diksmuide in Belgium but they had been caught up in the drought-caused canal closures and thought they might have to spend their whole summer in Neiuwpoort. Luckily, arrangements were made for one lock cycle and a bunch of boats moved in each direction and they were able to escape. They had followed us down the Leie and into France. They had bicycled up to visit on Wednesday and so we returned the visit on Thursday night, enjoying Douai’s massive fireworks from the Douai marina.
Meantime, we used the downtime to get some paint on portions of the boat that needed it as we waited for Wednesday.
Miraculously, on Tuesday morning Mssr. Despinoy came down to the boat and said the part had arrived. We were to move immediately to the drydock! We were lifted out and the bearing, seal, shaft and propellor were all put back in place and by about 1 pm we gave the new installation a sea trial. All was well! The water was staying where it belonged.
Success in the boatyard called for a party so Tuesday evening We invited all of the “yachties” in the yard for drinks on the terrace. All are English speakers and all come from different countries. Carl and Shawn from England are on a 27 meter luxemotor getting a new gearbox. Robert is from New Zealand. He just bought a boat and hauled it out for bottom cleaning and a survey. His daughter Steph was just visiting for a vacation. Some vacation in the boatyard! And Ian and Lisette (Aussies) had decided to bring their barge to the yard to see if they could get a cooling problem straightened out. Olivier the yard manager even joined us for a quick glass of wine.
Wednesday morning we parted with enough euros to cover the very reasonable yard bill and we were underway onto the Canal du Nord finally, really headed for the Somme.