2023 Barging France

A busy year begins (24/04 – 25/04/2023)

Sunbury – Migennes

Back in France, at least one of us, and the prospect ahead is hard work, uncertainty and enjoyment – what we love about this lifestyle.

Lisette will be joining me in a month. The nature of the work we’re going to start doesn’t lend itself to two of us being here, so she will remain in Sunbury. At present, I expect to be here for five months and Lisette for four. We expect at least the first two to be just working on Catharina Elisabeth, principally on the overplating and then painting the hull beneath the waterline.

I had one of the shortest trips ever to Catharina. From doorstep to doorstep was only 36 hours. Usually, it is well over 40. A major contributor was the short flight that I took (and Lisette will too) on Qatar Airways. A comfortable journey. A feature was that I had a window seat for the first leg out of Australia and fine and clear weather up to when we crossed the Northwest coast. So I had a chance to look at some of the varied landscapes of the Australian outback.

The Coonawarra subdivision of Sunbury.
The Grampians (Vic).
The Great Victoria Desert (SA)
The Great Victoria Desert (WA)
The Little Sandy Desert (WA)
The Coonawarra subdivision of Sunbury.

After arriving and transiting to Migennes I restarted all of Catharina’s systems and, very pleasingly, this went smoothly and without incident. Power, water, heat, generator – all up and running. The tarps have worked very well and even look clean enough to just pack away. The touchup painting of the deck has also held up perfectly and so, after just a bit of cleaning, we can expect Catharina to look as spiffy as she did at the end of last season.

The next work will be removing the tarpaulins and cleaning outside and in between, a bit of dusting, vacuuming and tidying up inside. Then it will be a matter of finding out when Catharina can be lifted out to start the major tasks.

That’s about as much of a plan as we have. Everything else is merely an ‘aspiration’ – what we’d like to happen. Our long-term goal is to get to the Canal du Midi. For that, we have to head south and probably pause partway and complete the journey the following season. The succession of dry years and another dry winter and spring means that most of the routes we would take to our preferred end-of-2023-season location, Saint Jean de Losne, are likely to close before we can use them. The only route that might be available is for us to go back up the River Marne and then eventually travel the length of the Canal entre Champagne en Bourgogne to the River Saône and thence to St Jd’L. Even that is fraught with a complete closure scheduled for mid-August.

One way we hope we might just possibly travel

We’ll see and, as our host Simon Evans observed a short while ago – “First we have to get her back in the water”.

The other important feature of this year is that our daughter Kathryn, husband Marcus and two children – Charlie and Zoe – will be joining us at the start of August for a week or so and then we’ll show them some sights around France. Very exciting for them and us.

That’s about it, time to catch up with some of the sleep I missed getting here, so I’ll consign this to the internet. Here’s hoping that we can be a bit more regular in posting.




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    4 Responses

  1. Hi Ian, thanks for blog, I have read current and last one but having spot of bother resetting password. Hopefully done soon

    1. You shouldn’t have to worry about passwords – now I’ve approved this comment, the rest should slip in without any issue. Good luck digging!

  2. Hi Ian,
    I’ve just had a look at your blog and can relate to nearly all of your activities. The fun, the problems and at time work.

    Just some questions about the tarps please. Did you have them especially made? Where can you get them and what are they made of?
    When I started barging I was told by the Dutch boaty people that tarps could wear paint off in spots and didn’t work well and so have avoided them. What is your overall assessment?
    I hate the mess and deterioration of the paint and wooden windows. We had the misfortune of having just finished a complete paint job in 2019, only to come back 2.5 years later after Covid and almost cried at the state of things.
    Happy cruising in 2024. We will be heading back to Maastricht from Auxonne, via Paris and the Sambre.


    1. Hi Roelf, “via Paris and the Sambre” – and what else?

      Yes they were custom produced but just rectangular of a size that would cover the essentials. So the fit is not snug. We’re very happy with them with regards to protection. We haven’t seen any problems with wearing of the salon roof paint (the only spot we would see the problem) but we do ‘tent’ the salon tarp (and the wheelhouse roof tarp, though not so important) so it is not supposed to be in contact with the roof (or we’d expect trapped moisture and mould to do damage). Where we have had contact because of trapped pools of water, there probably was some minor staining although I don’t recollect it being serious – just buffing it must have been enough. Also, that’s gone from the last repaint and we’re getting better at picking the problem spots where pooling occurs. This winter I’ve placed some fenders under the suspect areas to hopefully prevent pooling. Will the fenders mark the roof? We’ll see. However, saving the woodwork wins every time. Same experience as you after COVID. We were still fixing areas that had suffered this season. It was very hard work in 2022. Cheers!

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