May 2007 Canal du Midi to Etang de Thau

Our free mooring in Trebes

Many a party here, I was inspired to paint here also.

We enjoyed our free stay here very much indeed no electric but free water on this side, hire base opposite us. We met up with many boaters we know here, Moet was moored outside this restaurant which did a roaring trade from us all. We also had a great sharing BBQ on Moet here... Des & Janet brought back some best Irish fillet steaks when visiting home, they shared steaks with us all... it was a celebration dinner as Wendy & John had finished their testing out - he installed a new engine all went well.

Canal du Midi Mooring fees.

Mooring fees vary so much along the Canal du Midi. lots of free mooring to costing 23 euros a night at Marseillan port for our boat (17 metre). Many of the free moorings including electric have now been removed, due to people taking advantage we were told, out staying their welcome. We were lucky with moorings being so early in season.

Michael & John's four day visit
sadly not good weather for cruising

We traveled by car to collect son Michael & John from Carcassonne airport - we had a day visiting Carcassonne then lunch in the Medieval city before enjoying a scenic drive back to the boat. Fiona & Earl invited us to their Barge Colibri for lunch the following day, great time had by all and a few drinks (not me I was driving). We carried on the good feeling and enjoyed a late dinner out with Alan & Beate in La Redorte port.

Camera in Michael's hand - takes after his mum. John's first lock setting off from La Redorte, Michael enjoyed showing John how to moor the boat in a lock. We celebrated being together and arriving in Homps with a bottle of Moet Chandon a present from the boys thoroughly enjoyed - they can come again, great crew, then they treated us to dinner, magic visit.

We spent some time with David & Margaret - La Pearl in this port - together we visited a village up in the hills for wine festival by car, but sadly it was rained off when we arrived, so we had a bag of chips and returned for drinks in the port.

Homps port - 10 euros a night with electric

Sheila, Des & Janet - Village Minerve

I enjoyed some water colour painting in this port, I also enjoyed much printing with my new printer, many of my photographs make really good greetings cards. I made Sheila many greeting cards of her paintings as a present, I showed her some of my now framed art work I had done in April, she was impressed, especially with all the cards & photographs I had been working on, I was asked several times to show my work, so here is a sample for you. One day I may set up a painting page to show them individually, more lessons needed yet.

I am thrilled when people ask to see my art work, especially if it inspires them to have a go too.

Sheila & I may have an Art Expo in Homps showing our paintings in the village hall over the summer, a friend has asked her to ask if I would be interested, not to sell I said.

Sheila is busy setting up her flower art work business here in Homps, with many people interested in showing her flower paintings. At present she is bonding with her new dog Cookie - sadly he was abandoned here in Homps, the dog really adopted Sheila. Many vets visits so she is here for a while.

Doctors visit in Carcassonne.

The fall I had almost five weeks ago stepping off the boat, is causing much concern and my right leg swells up badly. I made an appointment to visit our port GP back in Carcassonne - Dr Atis was concerned I might have a blood clot, sending me off for urgent x-rays to make sure no chipped bones, my x- ray showed no bone damage, so I was sent immediately to have an ultra sound scan. I was told to wait and see the consultant regards my results - who confirmed no clots, it is muscle damage and will take time to heal, can you please take x-rays and scan results and his letter back to GP... all these tests reports & letter were done in under two hours including visit to GP. I am so impressed with the French health system, this would have taken weeks of waiting for appointments in England.

This pigeon joined our BBQ and sipped our rose wine - Homps.

Our stay in Homps (good market) was filled every minute of every day & evening for 10 days. Sunday lunch (on Tuesday) for our guests Andrea, Fiona & Earl (who had now arrived in the port with Colibri). We had a day trip to Spain (hot & sunny) Andrea picked us up in her van, buying our decking wood for top of boat. Several friends arrived here in the port so it was a busy time.

We had many trips to wonderful restaurants, trips out in our car with Alan, Beate, Des, Janet & Sheila visiting worthwhile villages, towns and sites of interest, stocking up on Minervois & Corbières wine. When this pigeon joined our BBQ and drank our wine - we could not believe our eyes, this bird would not leave me alone, think he was a little drunk at the end of the night.

Andrea's friends took her roof off for her birthday - what a huge smile this gave her.

A telephone call after lunch from Andrea in Marseillette, "panic" my builders are coming Monday I need to remove my roof tonight can you help out? Fiona & Earl are coming, hopefully more friends. Irene can you be mum in the kitchen for me (I then went into panic). What time would you like us 6pm was the reply "is that ok".

Team work brought her roof down, all tiles & timber & rubbish carried down a rather large grand stone stair case - the roof was gone in less than 3 hours. I prepared food for 8. Andrea did not tell John & I it was her birthday, I was so bothered about not having brought a card or present, this is my present she shouted, lots of bubbly and wine followed all the hard work, it was such a pleasure to help. Andrea will soon have a huge wonderful sun terrace over looking the mountains and vines, and a new apartment she is building underneath her new sun deck - wonder women knows no limits also official tour guide for Fiona & Earl - Barge Colibri. Must get on with our deck before Andrea finishes hers.

Work commences on our new sunshine deck on top of Moet - celebration drink & meal follows.

Des & John working flat out on roof of boat... Des, Janet, Beate, Alan & John rest time now.

Des & John got stuck into making the new wooden deck 5m x 2.5m. They both enjoyed very much working together this month, helping each other out on many occasions. Everyone wanted to help in any way they could good friends we have, we had Earl's jigsaw, Fiona's sewing machine, so I could make the canvas side covers for the deck. I had bought some good canvas in Carcassonne for the job. Andrea was a huge help with wood, tools and knowledge of where to go for our supplies, so many hands and helpful supervisors, helped this job along. Sadly work on deck came to a stop, due to windy and a boat crashing into us.

Homps - A hire boat crashed into our boat due to the winds, see damage below to steel & canvas

It was certainly an eventful stay in Homps, our fridge door fell off, don't ask - John managed to repair it!

A hire boat crashed into the back of our boat in gale force winds. the Moet was slightly damaged, I was almost knocked off my chair inside the boat when it happened. I bent down to look at the damage, my glasses fell into canal - that tipped me over the edge and I shed a tear. Accident report filled in, we were asked to take our boat to Port Cassafières - A Crown blue line hire base, where they will carry out repairs they have a good work shop, so we changed our cruising plans - they need us by Tuesday for full inspection of damage and to make plans for repairs.

Alan & Beate's - curry night aboard Grasse Matinee Free it was cold enough for a curry too.

Alan & Beate bow thruster caught fire here in this port - lucky no damage to boat, Alan was on the boat at time, Beate was supervising our deck being built. They also stayed in Homps port for a while waiting for parts. Alan cooked us all a magic + curry, we had some wonderful times together over the month. We set off saying our good byes as we headed for workshop and our boat repairs. Janet & Des following us next day. This area is wonderful to cruise very scenic indeed, busy with hire boats, lots to see & do here.

Memorable villages & places we have visited in the Corbieres & surrounding wine region.

My cycle rides are most enjoyable, I see a great deal from the canal banks, roads & bridges.

These are some of the wonderful very historic ports we called at, either by boat or later by car or bike since we left Homps, Argens-Minervois, we had a 54k pound no locks at all till Beziers. Lézignan-Corbières, Roubia, Paraza, Ventenac, Le Somail, (music fete here) Capestang, (great market here, met Irish Ed here, enjoyed a BBQ on his boat with Des & Janet), Poilhes, passing through the Malpas tunnel, above is the dried Montady Lake, a sight worth seeing, then onto Colombiers, (Fiona's 40th Birthday dinner here) Beziers (Les 9 écluses de Fonseranes over looking the Orb valley) huge town this is, came through many times by car. Villeneuve les Beziers, Portiragnes reaching Port Cassafieres. We could possibly stay all summer in this area and not see all it offers to visitors. I could write a book on all these places and people we meet but I would need a second volume.

Port Cassafieres mooring - wonderful peaceful place lots of beaches near by this is Vias.

Des Janet's throttle cable snapped coming out of Beziers 6 rise.

We had just set off from Port Cassafieres looking for peaceful tree (as 70 hire boats expected back), when we got a telephone call from Des, my throttle cable has snapped can you help out. We moored our boat up at nearest port, John jumped on his bike to go fetch our car, called in to see the boys in Port Cassafieres work shop and asked have you a 6.5m throttle cable, no but we have a 7mt one here go try it, if it's ok come back and pay us - that's France for you what a service, it fitted faire bargain 47euros it cost.

John picked me up from Vias, a german couple in the Port kindly offered to look after our boat till we got back. We drove on to Beziers Port, When we returned we invited them for drinks on Moet to say thanks, they gave us some wonderful Cd's with all the latest French music.

Fonseranes stair case, Beziers, good views of Black mountains, Corbieres and Pyrenees.

Beziers is a huge town with much to do and see - we found Janet & Des who were delighted to see us, "just in time for lunch they said", we had a wonderful lunch out in the port French style. After lunch Des & John got to work and put in the new throttle cable it took a little time - John says he has added marine engineering to his list of skills now thanks to Des and all his knowledge, they worked in over 40 degree inside the boat, a wonderful job. Traquair was up and running again, ready for her onward journey. We met up again in Port Cassafieres.

We had a scary experience in this lock, when a hire boat in front of us was not watching their ropes and ropes were caught in a large crack in the lock wall, I shouted for the lock keep to stop lock sluices, since the hire boat was now hanging by it's back rope, as the lock keeper approached the ropes snapped, thankfully no one was hurt but the lock was a little rocky till the boat settled down, they had a lot of clearing up to do inside this boat I could hear things smashing.

Pulling the Moet back stanchion's into shape again in Port Cassafieres Crown Blue line work shop.

The work on Moet was carried out when manager said it would be, we had excellent service from all the staff here, and we had many wonderful peaceful days in this port over the month, as we came and went, all 70 hire boats are out on hire - we sat on top on our new deck which also helps keep sun out of boat, ( safety rails to be finished soon design is a working progress). I so enjoyed listening to the waves lapping on the beach only 1km away from this port, the birds were singing, and we are happy again.

I painted and John did some road cycling here. We met many new friends in this port we were impressed with the service given to us by everyone we met. Our new canvas is on order and we hope the new cover will made & ready next month. Well done Crown Blue line.

Plunkett's are affiliated into the Irish gathering clan - Port Cassafieres.

Des & Janet's met up with their friends here in Port Cassafieres, they had hired a 12 birth boat from Homps, their mother who passed away aged 100yrs left a little money to them all, and they decided they would have this holiday on her, and a family gathering in France. We all toasted mothers good life and listened to some wonderful Irish tales - just one drink Miriam said... so we had a few while here in this port, not always alcohol for me.

We took Janet & Des to buy a portable air conditioner unit for their boat, then the weather turned - it's all their fault. Bad weather gives me chance to catch up on web site. John enjoys reading and snoozing.

marine shop in le Grau d'Agde

enjoyed fab lunch watching fishing boats returning

We visited le Grau-d'Agde on the coast looking for Allemand (glowing reports from all who have had their boats lifted for work here), our boat is being lifted out in July, for a hull inspection and painting and possibly we may re-paint the top half of the Moet. A big storm was brewing here, so we could not stay too long, wondering did we batten down the hatches on Moet? We enjoying meeting some very helpful people working here on their boats. We will make sure we don't arrive on this river when all the fishing boats are coming in. No mooring for our boat on the Herault River. Any offers of help painting Moet just turn up from 2nd July, kettle is on.

Celebrations - Fiona's 40th Birthday.

We were invited out for early evening drinks aboard Luxury Hotel Barge Colibri, then a special meal out to celebrate Fiona's 40th birthday - we shared many good evenings together this month, visiting each other. This was a wonderful evening - good company, fine wine, and a great restaurant with a special menu.

So nice to hear that their cruises on the Canal du Midi are a great success, with first American passengers comments within 24 hours of their Midi cruise "we have had value for money already thank you". This couple have worked like crazy for the last three years on their hotel barge - to make this dream happen, they deserve much success.

Back on board Moet we headed off for the end of the Canal du Midi, spending some very peaceful nights in the middle of no where - then we ventured out onto the Etang de Thau - not the best of weather for us. Those of you who have been following our journey, you will remember we had to be rescued off this lake by a life boat in October 2005. We felt very nervous indeed, remembering our past experiences only too well. wonderful day for sailing.

We had wonderful moorings in Marseillan Port on Etang de Thau

We arrived in Marseillan Port on Etang de Thau at 8am and sadly no moorings, so we asked the hotel boat if we could moor along side them out on the lake and see if one did become available, we were lucky two hours later we happily had a good spot. Des & Janet arrived 2 hours later and got last spot. We later enjoyed a meal out in the town with Des & Janet - John experienced his first meal of Moules & frites and enjoyed every morsel they were very good.. It rained buckets here sadly.

Latest painting happy Sailing everyone.

Unfortunately we could only stay in Marseillan port for one night or till Sat morning, due to a boating festival weekend, they needed most of the quay, as you can see the jousting boat above was being put in the water, we enjoyed watching them practice from our boat for the event, we only hope the weather is good for our departure tomorrow, not worth waiting till Sat we have decided. We are not going to cross the Etang de Thau, they predict gale force 6-7 winds for the weekend we are told - we will wait for better weather to cross this lake next month, we will cruise back to Canal du Midi back to Port Cassafieres, "slowly" to see if our canvas cover is ready. We will see what the weather is like tomorrow!...