2014 Barging

Never too old to learn

Back to School

I packed my lunch, lamb rolls and some fruit, and toddled off to school on last Sunday. This is what I got:

Diesel Certificate

License to Cruise

“Do you have to have a licence to drive a barge?” is a question that we are often asked, not long after “Are you mad?”. The answer, to the first, is “yes”, the second is debatable.

In a formal sense, the only qualification we MUST have is a sailing certificate – the International Certificate of Competence (ICC). This is a certification that shows that you have sufficient skill to handle the vessel and that you understand and know the details of the CEVNI (don’t bother) regulations. Provided at least one person on the vessel is qualified, we can cruise along anywhere in the Netherlands, Belgium, France, UK, probably Germany and much of the rest of the EU.

Helm and Crew will gain this qualification by taking two days of practical training on a barge, cruising in a canal, run by a training school based in Moissac in the south of France. They will (hopefully) certify our practical competency at the end of those two days. They will also administer a written test to see if we have learnt the CEVNI rules.

A big part of the test is identifying the CEVNI signs, sounds and lighting rules that must be understood and obeyed. For example, this sign  informs you that there is a ferry boat about that is NOT moving independently:

CEVNI sign

and if we see a vessel with these lights it means “It is night and I am aground, but it is possible to pass me on my port side”

CEVNI Lights

and this set of short repeated blasts on the horn means “I wish to overtake on your port side”

CEVNI Sounds

and this is – well you guess, and I’ll check your answer later.

CEVNI Lights

There are about 100 of these items. We have an app that delivers them to us as flash cards.

If we pass these two aspects, we get our ICC and are good to go.

VHF Operation

As Neo Vita has a VHF radio, the radio needs to be licensed. For it to be licensed, there has to be an owner who is certified to operate the radio. So, we need to get that operator’s licence, and consequently, Helm and Crew are both in training.

For that one, we have been studying an online, interactive course on our iPads. The iPad course takes about six hours of practice. We will stop off in Amsterdam on our way back from Moissac, to have just the test administered by a Dutch trainer, fortunately in English.

A neat feature of this course is that we have had to learn the NATO phonetic alphabet. So we are ready for:
This is Neo Vita, I spell, November Echo Oscar Victor India Tango Alpha”.

Diesel Maintenance

This was my Sunday course. This one is held locally, but only every three months, so I barely fitted it in. Not mandatory for cruising, just common sense – it’s a very sad crew that’s stranded on a barge with the engine unable to start.

Not keen for this eventuality, Crew signed up for a one-day course on basic diesel maintenance. Suffice to say, it wasn’t hard. I’ve done a reasonable amount of petrol engine maintenance, and the skills were portable. There were significant items that are different, and we learnt the details of types of maintenance that are required. Both of those aspects were very valuable to learn. I left reasonably confident that I could cope with basic maintenance and troubleshooting.

Diesel Maintenance Course

Peace of mind is the principal aim of this whole lifestyle!

Your mini CEVNI test

Well, my first thought was that a drunk French lollipop man, worse for wear while having a BBQ, was trying to hit a ball suspended from a parachute that had been dropped from a firework rocket that had just been launched from the bow.

Actually, CEVNI Article 3.30 says that these are just “distress signals”, so I was wrong. How did you go?

Anyhow, back to the flash cards!

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    2 Responses

  1. Well done arranging and doing all this! We found a couple of errors in the RYA CEVNI rules, nothing major, they said they’d update them! Assuming you are doing land-travel to Mossaic, before going to the boat? We are wintering near there (probably) . . . . let us know how it all goes – loved reading this article!

  2. Just keep in mind I have a mechanic that would be happy to pop over for any maintenance (with his wife and child of course…)

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