August 2004 Newark Marina to France


We start the packing and getting the boat and us ready for moving to France... not an easy task, with a pulled muscle in my chest... a stiff neck... and John's elbow was on fire... John really does suffer with his elbow a lot, (broken it twice in the past) though he's not been able to rest it much of late. I was so tired too as we packed up on Monday ready for the lift on Tuesday... we were not even kind to each other, never a dull moment.

I stopped packing and got so stressed out about it all... I changed my mind about going to France (stage fright) and had a right wobble, needless to say every thing came to a halt and we where not ready for the lift out... which was then canceled off for 24 hours... I think we where going to divorce at this point... well not literally. John even got on the phone saying it's OK to change your mind if does not feel right Irene. He tried to get us a winter mooring in Leeds ringing around... at which point I realized, no this is just a wobble it will be all right, we have come too far to back out now, we talked and talked into the wee hours... and got up the next morning and said right lets get on and do what we have to... John's studying for his RYA Europe examination was not helping matters, that was stressing him, the exam was to be the morning of the lift out, now that our plans had changed... we need to rearrange the lift.

Newark marina staff where very understanding and said just let us know when you are ready to be lifted out. I remembered my motto:

CEVNI European Waterways regulations

John passed the CEVNI course today 100per cent in the exam... well done... tutored by Ray Cullis we did learn a lot from him... he was able to come to the boat in Newark... Trent Boat Handling (providing canal boat services in the Midlands) we wished we had had more time with Ray he is a mine of information, we would have loved to have done a two day course on rivers, it would have been most useful especially for the Ouse and Trent and we might not have made some of our mistakes. We highly recommend the New CEVNI European Waterways regulations book written by Tam Murrell, it is much easier to follow than the previous written book, again we did not know about the new book... John's a right swot, and I am so proud of him, better just take the time to tell him...

One hour after finishing the exam we were being lifted out of the water... having had to first move the boat around many cruisers, again, we asked for help from all the staff around us... well it's not just a boat being lifted it's our home and our pride and joy, we did not want to see any thing happen to the Moet or flatten any cruises in the process... we had packed most things well, being our first experience of packing a boat to take on holiday (normally it's just a suit case, Moet weights in at almost 24 tons (excess baggage charge in France!!!).

The lift went without hitch (still scary) the boys did a fine job.

The boat was to be pressure washed when she came out of the water... but their machine was not powerful enough... One set back, but we would deal with that later. We where moved to a safe place in the marina (see photo's) ready for all our hard work (we had to start our preparation for painting).

Rubbing down the bottom of the boat did not work, but we needed it all cleaning ready for the blacking of the hull, with comastic paint, but that's tomorrow we had done enough today and of course it was Mikes birthday today, he drove down to Newark this afternoon to help us get the boat ready and spend his birthday with us... we had some time off chatting and enjoyed a meal out and a few wonderful hours together, he's a calming effect on us all.

We all got up at 6am following morning no hangovers to much to do (Mike had an extra hour) woke to bright blue skies and we all started work... Moet team together... we managed to all get on and do our different jobs in hand, getting the boat sanded (Mikes job), ready for John's brother, Steve's magic with a paint brush he's coming to help put the finishing touches to the boat tomorrow. Praying for dry weather, it was a very windy night kept us AWAKE...

Fine Job Steve (John's brother)... Tel number on van!!!

27th August

Painting day two Sally & Steve arrived at 7am from Leeds for the second stage of painting Moet... Sally and I enjoyed sharing in some of Mikes success stories, and listening to his unfinished new CD... magic moments spent too, Mike spent hours trying to get the sky TV system to work......not yet up and running except for German programs!!! At the end of the day the boat was all newly painted and bright and shinny ready for the journey, thanks to Stephen and team Moet. We have had many admiring glances and people coming to ask if our boat is new and what we are up to... we seem to be inspiring many people with our boat and stories of going to France, as people have inspired us too where their stories over the years.

Chantier Fluvial De Migennes France

All our traveling arrangements were confirmed today... Joe Parfit (had been away on holiday) at the French Marina in Migennes. our driver Dave, rang and said would we be ready a day early (Monday) we said "no chance sorry Dave"... John and I have tons of jobs still to do. When everyone left we enjoyed a peace full night catching our breath, and topping up the journal for the web and chatting about our plans. To finish the night John cooked tea while I got some more sunset pictures... this weather of late has created some brilliant skies all worth catch... John's now studying French he likes studying I think!!! I developed some photos and made some greeting cards too, it helps with the relaxing. I think we will fall into bed and sleep tonight... not long to the big lift on to the truck. We have lots of visitors joining us too this weekend...

29th August

Keep smiling John's motto.

Mick and Pam our friends drove up from Leeds yesterday at lunch time, Pam and I did some shopping in town, while the boys enjoyed a pint and chat together, we booked into a bed & breakfast in a local pub, the boat was full of boxes and we did not fancy climbing the ladders after a good night out and rolling home in the wee hours. We enjoyed our usual curie, we where banned from entering a bar as John had trainers on and it was after 7.30pm on Saturday night!!! Newark was so quite we thought everyone had gone to bed, we strolled back to the bb for a night cap... Turned out to be several... we shared stories, memories and had a good laugh... took our minds off what was to become a busy couple of days last minute jobs, shopping, and packing. The sun has come and gone... clouds have come and gone.....and the rain joined us several times a day!!! What do you wear this kind of weather.

"Moet" looking good John, another cup of tea , I will carry on packing no room to move for boxes!!!!

We enjoyed an early breakfast with Mick and Pam before they headed back to a Christening in Leeds. We had a good laugh about the hotel/pub we stayed in... "not to be recommended", I don't think any of us slept well. We had a few hours sorting things on the boat after we said our Au-Revoirs. Michael arrived later to help us with the finishing touches to the new sky & TV system... also my GPRS phone (internet & e-mail connection for the boat) all needed fine tuning for France and last minute setting's to connect phone to my Lap top computer,hopefully I can stay in contact with you all. Important job left to do was Michael is going to teach John and I how to splice our new ropes, to make new handles and loops for our anchor... so much still to do... are you ever ready!!! Mike just got on and spliced while we did other things, time was running short now.

Mike John and myself went to a fantastic Chinese in Newark and had the best salt and pepper spare ribs we have ever had, the meal was first class, we so needed it. We then went back and watched a movie on the new TV system thanks again to Mike.John wants to stow him away on board.

New large anodes added to boat - Mike splicing our ropes bless him

Keys in Tony's hand

We had a really busy morning getting on with things, so pleased with how things where going too for a change. We where looking forward to Tony, Paul, Anthony and Dennis coming over for a farewell drink. But things did not go according to plan they arrived around lunch time. Tony locked his keys in the boot of their new fab (see photo.. Keys in hand) car on arrival in Newark, it caused some stress for everyone I think.

It would of meant having the car towed home, just no way into the car... it would be very expensive to do this or drive back to Leeds in Michael's car and picking up his spare key's... so off they both went to Leeds... we got some good rain proof covering for the car... as the soft top was down, and it looked like rain, knowing the car was now safe we all toddled off to the pub for lunch and a few beers for the next few hours until there return to Newark beats working... I had one too many wines and suffered later, but good while doing it. We enjoyed a good lunch and chat.They arrived back with spare keys and time for them to eat before having to depart home.

Departure 31st August

Sunrise in Newark

We got up at 5am next morning (Monday) and carried on... Michael and I went shopping, while we were away the truck arrived... panic set in when John rang me, but our driver Gabour said no problem how ever long it takes you to finish things... I will be around just let him know, Gabour had a lot to do getting the trailer ready too he was in awe of the job in hand moving Moet Chandon on his new truck on his 70 foot trailer. We all watched as the Newark staff once again carefully lifted the boat and placed it onto the truck with such care and attention to detail... it was not as scary as when it was lifted out of the water for the first time the week before, we had watched them lift many boats over our time in Newark.

Being lifted onto the truck

It took about two hours in all to complete the procedure, see photos. Michael presented us with a farewell present as the boat was placed on the truck... a GPS hand held machine to give us our speed when on the boat, works off satellite will also help with our location... and to prevent us getting lost... a very useful tool indeed, he had himself used one when on the river Ouse... it will come in very handy on our travel's, stop us from speeding too hopefully. It was so sad saying good bye to Mike and many tears shed yet again... but we where all prepared for this moment.

We set off at 1pm in this huge truck our "Convoi Exceptional"... extra wide and long load... the truck had double bunks in the cab. John was in the front seat and I was sat on the lower bunk..but we changed seats each time we stopped, plenty of room for you to stand up in the truck too... very comfortable indeed with all the space one needed.

Setting off from Newark Marina

Even a fridge in the cab, mirrors as big as cars. Our driver Gabour was a delight to be with... told us of his travels all over Europe delivering over the past 24 years...he adored his job... we where in safe hands. We headed off towards Dover... we where to stop and meet Dave at Ashford on our way to check the load and to give us directions and the permits.

We where advised that being so wide we could not go through the toll booth's which meant traveling the long way round, through little roads and villages (old roads before motorways)... What a wonderful but scary experience it was too... we where in safe hands, some very tight spaces Gabor manoeuvred in, just magic watching his skill's. We had such wonderful weather too. We arrived in Dover at around 7pm and we waited for the 9pm ferry... we had a nice meal on board and enjoyed a relaxing time... we arrived in our over night parking at around 11.30pm in Calais (French time)... Gabour got the ladders out and we went on board to check out the boat and all enjoyed a coffee before we retired,we were all so tired at this point... Gabour slept in his truck... it was strange sleeping up in the heavens.

France we are on our way...