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Les and Bob's Excellent Adventure

Altitude Sickness

10th July 2011

From the heady heights of the Canal Du Midi. And first a request to the Hoo Ness Yacht Club, being as I am unable to take part in any club races this year I wondered if there is a trophy for being the yacht who has gained the highest altitude this year ? My declared height on 9th July was 620 ft Above Sea Level. Surely this must have put me ahead of all the trimaran's this time !!!!!

I'm now at Castelnaudary some 65k past Toulouse and from now onwards all locks are downhill which are a great relief as going uphill is very hard having to scale wet slimy ladders in locks sometimes 5 mts high with for and aft lines firmly held between my teeth. ( my dentist would have a fit if he saw me).

Entente Cordiale
Extra Fendering

As seen from some photos GBJ is now dressed with two nice Wilton carpets and four Michelin 195X14 tyres for added protection. Do not expect any help from the lock keepers as they are there to press buttons only. (they are pretty but useless;)

Lock keeper, pretty but useless
Lock Keeper

One lesson I have learnt is never ask a member of the public to help. On this occasion I came into the lock to find they had omitted to fit any ladders, so I tied up to ringbolt down in the lock . Looked up to see what would be best described as a French onion seller complete with bike & hat but alas no onions on handlebars. As he seemed interested as to what I was going to do next I thought what a good idea it would be for me to recruit him to press the green activate button on the pedestal to activate the lock. With my lack of French and his of English it was all down to sign language and just as I thought we cracked it he went and pushed the red emergency button instead of the green button. OH SH-t said I and after a lot of head scratching my non helping French friend he rode off into the sunset leaving me with a one and a quarter hour wait at the bottom of the lock till lock staff came to reset the lock then to rub it in even further telling me I should press the green button & never the red emergency button. I just smiled and said wee !!!!

To any aviation fans out there whilst under the flight path to Toulouse airport I saw two A300-600st Super Transporters coming into land. If you haven't got a clue what these are they are huge planes to transport the new airbus components about.

When I started off into the canal system I set my shallow alarm to sound off at .5m after a week or so I was fed up with the constant alarm noise so re-set it to .2m that again was always going off so now I have elected to have no alarm except Bob who barks when either the keels touch or even more alarming when the prop clatters against bits on the bottom. So with fingers crossed we press on.

There's not much water here!
There's not much water here!

Goodbye for now from Les & Bob

Day 79 Location - Moissac

5th July 2011

The Atlantic Ocean is now a long way behind me and the chart table is looking a lot clearer. With no tide tables, charts almanac or pilot books to worry about. My guide now is just one Navicarte guide on the Canal Du Midi. By the time I reach the Mediterranean i would have been through 116 locks and under 457 bridges.

I entered the Gironde on 23rd June with a very lumpy sea and that was only with a F4 from up the chuff. It had been a long day at sea so I put in at Port Bloc for a well earned rest. With strong tide here I departed at low water and carried the flood 45 Km up to Pauillac where i had planned to get the mast down. The water in the Gironde is a very muddy brown colour and even makes the river Medway seem clear. On arrival I was met by a cheerful harbour master who informed me they would be able to unstep my mast on Sunday afternoon ( try getting that service in the UK} By now the heat wave was really kicking in and everybody was keeping out of the sun except one mad Englishman beavering away making timber crutches in preparations for the mast coming down. (has anyone tried folding sails on a narrow pontoon on your own - not easy is it !!!! )

French Lock
Gee Bee Jay Mast Down in a French Lock

Monday lunchtime saw Gee Bee Jay departing up river now resplendent with her mast now in a horizontal position. Another scorching hot day with not a breath of wind and very grateful was Bob & I of our nice new bimini. With a 4 knot tide helping us on our way Bordeaux was only 4 hours away. Not a ripple on the water the autohelm was brought into action whilst I went down to make a cuppa. On returning back to the cockpit with tea in one hand and cake in other i glanced round to check where the next set of channel marker bouys were. The port bouy was about 150 yards abeam of me so where's the starboard one I thought !!!!!!!!!! at split second later a huge green bouy rushed down the side of the boat doing 8.6 knots missing me by approx 6ft !!!!!!!!!!!!!! ooops its amazing now much ground you can cover doing 8.6 knots.

Beautiful French Countryside
Relaxing Travelling Through the Beautiful French Countryside

Now in the canals, France is unfolding its beautiful countryside at a more sedate 4 knots. The depth under the keels is sometimes less than 6 inches, but even more frightening is the extremely low bridges just skimming over my head missing the mast and solar panels by just a few inches.

Keeping a lookout for low bridges
Keep a lookout for low bridges!

Well I hope that's given you a small taste of my travels up to date needless to say the wine is excellent and as cheap as chips and we are both having a time of our lives.

Bye for now & best regards from Bob & Les

Les Considers his Keel Options for the Canal du Midi

28th June 2011

We had this in from Beryl and Keith Boddy, after catching up with Les and Bob in France recently.

Les Chapman asks Bob will this be ok
Photo by Beryl Boddy

"We thought that we might enter the attached pic in the HNYC photo competition but on reflection decided nay 'cos our mutual friend isn't much of a work of art is he?

Master and 1st Mate Bob are standing on the new keel that they have fitted to Gee Bee Jay in preparation for the canals via the Gironde to which they were heading ex La Rochelle when we left them on Friday last. Both of them are in "fine fettle". Needless to say we had a great time with them in La Rochelle."

Update

16th June 2011

Hi all,

dolphins
Interested Visitors

Not sure why but some of you did not get my dolphin photos so I am sending them all out again, not all are great as they are out and back in the water in no time and the camera takes time to focus on each shot, anyway enjoy what there is and thinking back I should have shot a movie of them.

All the Best from Bob & Les

MORRISDANCING (A COMIC TALE FROM BRITTANY)

25th May 2011

One of the most pleasant ways to start the day is to sail off the anchor and so it was. Today's journey was approximately 35 miles to L?Abervrac?h and with a light northerly breeze we set off with full sail on a broad reach. The tide had just started to ebb so we had the best part of 6 hours of a favourable spring tide to help us on our way. Breakfast was duly made at 8am whilst the trusty auto helm kept us on course. After meals its always a good opportunity to remind Bob of the need to use the bathroom, for those of you that are not familiar with our system we have a small piece of astro turf at the back of the cockpit sole just by the drains. Bob will use it but only as a last measure and would prefer to cork it till we get ashore and since we spent last night on the hook some 15 hours had passed since he last went. Anyway he chose to ignore me so there wasn?t much I could do about it.

A glorious day was developing with clear blue sky and a flat calm sea all except the Atlantic swell and for those that have not experienced this I will quote from the cruising Almanac, ( it is the wave motion caused by a meteorological disturbance, which persists after the disturbance has died down. Swell often travels considerable distances out of its generating area. A long heavy swell will often cause you to lose sight of another yacht or even a medium sized ship as both vessels slide simultaneously into there respective troughs. And now for the important bit so please bear with me. Swell can be dangerous when closing inshore on a rapidly shoaling seabed. Breakers will form, often not seen from seaward until you are amongst them. The net effect is highly dangerous for yachts.) anyway back to the sailing or should I say lack of it the wind had died down and now Gee Bee Jay was only making about 3 knots throu the water but now the effect of the tide was really kicking in and GPS was showing a healthy 6 knots so no need for the engine yet. As is so often the case when there is a tidal window you can often see other yachts with the same plan. And we had been shadowed by another French yacht of about 40 ft or so. He was only a couple of hundred yards away but when we both went down into the our troughs all I could see of him was from the 2nd set of spreaders to his masthead. Wow I thought that seas getting up.

And now the fun and games start as it was time to put a 90 degree left turn to head for land between the rock strew approach to L?Abervrac?h. Now the wind was dead astern and we are beam on the rolling swell and Gee Bee Jay rocking like a hobby horse on Viagra. At this point the auto helm didn?t know which way turn so I took the helm, as I took my eyes off the horizon for a split second to turn the auto helm off then the boom swung wildly across on a gybe As there was hardly any wind gybing was not a problem which is just as well cos it done it again a few seconds later . It was at this point in time I became aware of a strong smell of POO !!!!! and looked down to see Bob unloading a truck full of it near where I was standing. My first thought was NOT GOOD TIMING BOB and decided not to kick the dog as I just fell over as the boat then jybed again. The one fortunate thing was his poo was very solid nuggets but there was so many of them rolling around by my feet. Seeing me get all excited Bob now thinks it?s all a game and runs around the cockpit tying my left leg up with his lead (oops gybed again ) . By now I?ve got half a mile of rope snaking around my feet, im jumping all over the place so as not to tread in golden nuggets every where and a boom trying to take my head off and not to mention approaching rocks either side pounded by the now very heavy swell . A quick look at the chart plotter and I was right on course so held on for another half mile and after another turn to port all went calm and we entered the harbour as if nothing had happened.

MORRIS DANCING ON THE HIGH SEAS !!!!!!! Been there done it & got the tee-shirt.

Brittany

11th May 2011

As the sun sets on a glorious day in Brittany I reflect on how lucky I am. I'm now at the head of the River Trieux approx fifteen miles upstream and for the last mile beyond the reach of the vast tides around this part of the coast by a lock in a village called Pontrieux. With nothing but the sound of birdsong filling the air I'm even telling Bob to hush and not to bark at the passing ducks in fear of disturbing the tranquility of this sleepy village. There is no Marina here just a couple of dozen boats tied up along the bank side. I'm the only visiting yacht here and was even greeted by the harbour master who came out of his office to take my lines for me. He must have been called by the lock keeper down the canal as I was the only boat to be seen on the morning tide. But this quaint little place still has very good facilities with a superb toilet and shower block complete with a laundry room and as you can see free WiFi which is just about reaching my boat.

Tomorrow I'm off and back out to sea for a sail along to Treguier, it's not far as the crow flies, but will take me many hours to cover the thirty or so miles around the rock strewn coastline.

Bye for now

Les & Bob

Date Published 30th Jun 2011