|Finally, in French water|
It was back to the boat at Gayton on Sunday afternoon and we spent the rest of the day packing the inside and outside and making sure everything was secure. We were up early on Monday morning to finish off the last bits and pieces before heading down to the crane ready for the start of the journey. One of the last things to do was to put all the plant pots inside and they all fitted in the bedroom.
We had been moored opposite Toby & Sue on Baleine while we had been at Gayton and they came along to wish us luck as we were waiting to be lifted out. They’re such a lovely couple and seemed so excited about our new adventures; Toby was even waving both arms in the air and saluting us!
The crane driver was ready, so we cruised slowly into the sling. There was quite a bit of trial and error as he tried to find the balance point. After four attempts of lifting and dropping us again to move the sling he finally got it.
|Driving into the sling|
|Clearly too heavy at the front|
|Level at last|
The lorry hadn’t turned up when the boat was ready, so the lads went off for a tea break and we sat and waited. We spoke with the trucking company and found out that there had been issues on the M25, but Paul was about 12 minutes away with 15 minutes to go before he had to take an enforced 45 minute break.
|Paul arrived and immediately split the deck and lengthened the loading area|
|and on the truck ready to remove the shackles holding the sling|
|Struggling to get the sling out|
|Measuring for the height|
On our drive down we both realised how nervous we had been watching our home being lifted out of the water and being swung around. We also remarked, that considering there were four guys from the yard involved in the operation for well over an hour, that £350 seemed good value for money.
We arrived in Reading well before the girls got home from work, so we made ourselves at home and went for a last UK walk along the River Thames to Sonning lock.
|Sonning lock in the distance|
We left at 6.30 on Tuesday morning and without too much trouble on the M25 were soon in the tunnel and on our way to France. Unlike our holiday this year we took the autoroutes and headed straight for Burgundy. After another four hours or so we were in Auxerre where we had an Airbnb for the night.
Wednesday was another early start as the boat was due to arrive at the yard at 8.00am. As it turned out, Paul had arrived the night before and had left the truck in the yard overnight ready for an early craning.
Simon, the yard owner, soon got things moving and it wasn't long before we were being lifted off the truck. Unlike the UK, there were no hard hats in sight of course.
|My weight was needed to keep the boat level 😉|
|The barge in the middle, Catharina Elisabeth, belongs to Ian who has been very helpful during our preparations for moving over here|
|Karen has since been in touch with the maker to order a replacement|
The locks on the river weren’t due to open until Saturday so Simon said we could stay at his yard until then or go up into the port at Migennes and wait there. We had a wander up to the port and thought that would be the best solution as it was in the town centre and meant we could spend a couple of days making sure we had everything. Simon rang the éclusier to see if he would open the lock and let us into the port; he had to leave a message as the éclusier was out but was hopeful all would be OK.
The port is at the eastern end of the Canal de Bourgogne and if things work out as planned for the first few months, we will be travelling the length of the canal at the end of our anti-clockwise tour of Burgundy.
|Walking up to the lock that connects the Canal de Bourgogne to the Yonne|
|The port of Migennes is the far side of the lock|
When we got back to the boat Simon came and found us to apologise for not being able to get the lock open and he also understood that it wouldn’t be easy to stay at his yard because of Buddy. He had more boats to lift into the water over the next few days so we would have to moor four boats deep and Buddy would not find it easy clambering over three large barges.
Simon had been out and found a good mooring for us further downstream. We knew it was in the opposite direction to that which we wanted to go but it was safe and quiet whilst we waited until the weekend and it would also give us a little cruise.
First, we took the car down to the mooring which was at Laroche St. Cydroine. Although we are going to leave the car at Simon’s yard while we are cruising, we fancied keeping it by us until we set off, in case we found we needed to get something. As we walked back to get the boat, we passed several couples also out for a walk along the river and exchanged pleasantries just like walking along the cut in the UK. When we got back, we joked about how easy it had been to have conversations in French albeit not much was said other than, ‘bonjour’.
We set off downstream as soon as we got back and had a small farewell party of French liveaboards to see us off.
|And we’re off|
|Simon’s yard behind us|
|Heading for the SNCF railway bridge across the Yonne at Migennes|
|Self-conscious being a Brit|
|As we were on a river Buddy had his life jacket on|
|Our first overnight mooring in France|
|Our first sunset – feeling so happy 😊|