Saturday, March 19, 2011


“Oh what a wonderful world” goes the ever popular song and I am sure it is so true but with the events of the past few weeks, sometimes one has some questions of what on earth is going on.
With winter slowly pulling back its cruel tentacles from the northern hemisphere at last, mother nature has still given us some lessons as though to say she is still fully in charge which has manifested itself by the terrible carnage caused by the terrible earthquake and tsunami in Japan overnight and the shocking earthquake and loss of life in our beloved city of Christchurch plus the battles of the people going on in Libya and other north African countries. Our news sure does not present very pleasant viewing so thank goodness we are living in a quiet and relaxed corner of the earth, at least so far, here in Moissac, south west France.

While we have had to endure the winter weather as expected. It has been so mild compared to the rest of France, Northern Europe and the UK so we are very grateful indeed. With only a couple of snowy storms to bother us we have enjoyed almost windless conditions with nice sunny days and only in the past few weeks have we had to put up with some days of overcast and rainy conditions. Not bad for this time of the year and to off set this the trees have begun to show green tips and blossoms are decking the fruit trees in pink and white which is a magic transitional time.

Rhonda's Comment: The strawberrys are in flower and the lettuce is nearly ready to pick.
With the arrival of a new grandson, Rhys Adam ("Sumo" my nickname for him) born 11 lbs to Michelle and Tom and son Hayden in Auckland on Australian Day (26th January), Rhonda made the epic journey back to New Zealand to spend time with them and friends which was great for her to be able to catch up with so many family and good friends. She was rewarded with a showering of affection from Hayden who she hadn’t seen for 2 years when she made a similar trip back to see them.
The hot weather there wasn’t the best for her but as she was invited to stay with Jock and Julie for a few days during her visit, she was able to make great use of the beautiful swimming pool they have. The kindness of people was amazing as Dave and Lois loaned her their car so she was able to get to see other folks as well as visit Michelle, Tom, Hayden and Rhys every day so a big thanks goes to those folk plus to our oldest friends Daphne and Claude who made her feel so welcome out at their home on the magic island of Waiheke which is a must for any visitors to Auckland to travel out on the ferry to see.

Rhonda's Comment: The cruise ships lined up in Auckland.

Rhonda's Comment: Evening drinks on Daphne and Claude's balcony.

As it is such a haul and due to the need to stopover in Dubai on her way home Father Christmas shouted her a 2 day stopover package there to take in the sights and marvels of this almost space age city. She thoroughly enjoyed it so much she has almost convinced me that we should go there some day for a holiday but we will see.

Rhonda's Comment: The iconic sights of Dubai - that's not me on the camel either!!!

While she was away Harry and I batched onboard and did well really with looking after ourselves along with enjoying some wonderful meals and company being invited to other folks boats during the three week break. People in the “Long Village” as we call the cruising community ensure that lame ducks like me seem to get well looked after so to all those who kindly fed and watered me, I say a big, Thank You.

Slowly as spring progresses a number of boat owners are returning from their winter nests such as homes in the UK or wherever with lots of stories of how they got through the coldest winter in history so we are so glad we weren’t there, but it is nice to catch up with them anyhow.
The odd boat has already cast off for an early start to the cruising season with the canals opening in early March once the maintenance schedule had been completed by the marine authorities V.N.F. Prior to this the canals were all but drained in many areas so work could be effected on lock gates (Ecluses) so it was fascinating to see how little water was left to allow the passage of fish plus to give us a proper view of how shallow the canals can be even when filled with water.

If you have two meters in depth you are sure lucky so one now understands why yachters who traverse from the Mediterranean to the Atlantic Ocean using the canal system rather than going out via Gibraltar and then facing the notorious Bay of Biscay conditions, stick to the middle of the canals much to others annoyance but they can’t always get off the middle without running aground. Often we used to see yachts with a sign attached to the bowsprit saying 1.8 or so on which was their way of telling you that they needed at least this much water to be able to transverse the area and sometimes they would pull up and ask if they could tie up alongside us as they couldn’t get berthed against the bank due to the need for a decent depth of water.
Rhonda's Comment: Don't leave us Iain and Kaz. As they are the Captainerie's they better come back!

We have driven to Toulouse a couple of times to visit the V.N.F. dry-dock where we have booked “Somewhere” into to have her bottom pressure washed, renew the anodes if necessary and then have the hull blackened which will be interesting for sure. We met the contractor who does the work and sure seems to know what to do so that is a comfort. We have never seen what she is like below the water line so fingers crossed we haven’t damaged her when we have run aground which has happened a couple of times. The attached photos give an idea of what this is like and as we can stay aboard while she is in there for 10 days approx we will be able to look more closely at this large city and hopefully be able to do the tour of the Airbus factory which is on the outskirts of the city.

Rhonda's Comment: This is where we will be on 12th April.

During fine winter weather I have been able to carry out minor repairs and to touch up the paintwork and will do some more while in dry-dock hopefully so “Somewhere” is all ‘flashed up’ for the arrival of our cruising visitors for this season. It is our intention to cruise this bottom end and to explore some less known areas and will take time off the boat to say travel by road to Bordeaux on the west coast and visit some other towns and cities on the Atlantic sea board.

Rhonda's Comment: This is in the grounds of the Abbey here in Moissac.

We are looking forward to having some Auckland folks onboard with us this year, Jenny and her cousin will join us in Toulouse for a few days which will set the cruising season off to a fine start. This will be followed by our old mates Daphne and Claude who have visited us each summer since we started cruising and will be with us for a couple of weeks. Also from Auckland will be Valerie and Derek so the wineries and food outlets better stand by at least.

Well as you can gauge from the lack of exciting news in this blog, the past few months have been very easy so we wait to see what the new cruising season brings. With Spring springing, waters flowing again and engines turning over ready to be set to work I will close for now wishing you all the very best and will report as soon as we have news of another step along in our great adventure.