Canal du Centre

Canal du Centre

Sunday, April 30, 2023

Back to France, April 25-May 1


Tuesday morning my friend Ines drove me to the airport shuttle bus and, after a relaxing hour or so in the airport lounge and lunch, Air France whisked me across North America and the Atlantic Ocean to Paris. Arriving around 11 am I only had an hour and a half to make the transfer to the flight to Toulouse which turned out to be in another terminal requiring a bus ride. Then the security people decided my backpack required a more thorough check and I thought I was going to miss the connection. Luckily it all worked out and I made the flight, landing in Toulouse at 2 pm. Unfortunately, due to the tight connection, my bag didn’t arrive at the same time, but a courier managed to find me for it’s delivery the next evening and all was well.

Oldtimer was something of a mess but it really only took one day to clean the outside. However, due to the chaotic departure last year, there was quite a bit of cleaning on the inside yet to do. Just like housework.

I was also greeted by a Fete Foraine just across the canal. The real fun began with the carnival midway cranking up starting Wednesday about 3. Luckily I have earplugs because the noise is pretty bad. They begin their day around 3, go a little quieter around dinner time and then crank back up until a little after 11. Between the earplugs and jet lag I’ve been able to deal.

They’re lined up for the “Turn It On” ride.

Picture from my back deck.

So far everything has been good with the boat. The engine started a little reluctantly, not surprising considering it’s been more than 7 months since it last ran, and when it finally caught it ran fine without too much smoke. Both the electric toilet and the hot water heater worked without a hitch. The wheel turned the rudder and the bow thruster did its thrusting thing without complaint. The horn even worked!

I have put the boat up for sale through H20, the brokers that sold Odysseus for us and through whom we bought Oldtimer. There is a saying that the two happiest days in a boat owners life are the day they buy a boat and the day they sell it but that will definitely not be the case for me. It was a very difficult decision; the completed paperwork sat on my desk for two weeks before I could bring myself to send it in but I really can’t see a way for me to keep the boat that doesn’t involve waaaay too much work and stress. (If you look at the listing, those are not pictures of the interior decoration as it is now. I wasn’t able to provide inside picture for the listing as I wasn’t here yet so they used ones from the previous listing.)

I managed to put together a pretty full cruise schedule with family and friends until I leave in late July. My first guests, Tim and Christine, who have sailed with me on Oldtimer before, arrive Sunday the 30th, escaping the possibility of May 1 chaos in Paris. They will be here for a week, then I will be joined by Kevin Murray, a guy from Australia I met through the Dutch Barge Association forum, who will be aboard for at least 3 weeks. He was supposed to be followed by an old friend, Yvonne, also from Australia whom we met in 2009,  but she just fell and broke her hand so will be unable to make the trip. I informed Kevin and it sounds like he may be up to stay aboard if it works out. We’re about to become very well acquainted! 

Since the canals are closed for the May Day holiday, We won’t be getting underway until Tuesday at the earliest. I think our first destination will be Montauban, back to the east about 25 k. After that, who knows?