July 2007 Boat Painting, boatyard Grau d'Agde

Chantier Naval Allemand on the River Herault in South France

Chantier Naval Allemand
34300 Grau d'Agde


We spent just over two weeks working long days, the Moet was high enough for us to scrape, clean, repaint underneath the boat. This was a hard job, it was like coal mining, the bottom plate of our boat had not been repainted by us before, it was though in very good shape. We were told the 10m plate bottom, was painted well in first place.

Moving ladders was a pain for me they were heavy.

We both sanded all the paint work on Moet, a borrowed sander from Fiona & Earl we also bought one to saved time. Many sanding disc's bought in marine shop.

We used the boat yard shower at the end of each day for first week, as we were both so dirty & black at the end of each day. Our lift cost 180 euros each lift, x 2 (cost depends on the size of your boat) a small charge for setting up the boat on blocks 35 euros. We hired their high pressure washer, for 45 euro's. We brought all our own paint with us in April from England. We needed extra paint for the bottom plate, which we bought in a 20 litre tin (200 euros), you just paid for what you used.

John's tow path bike was stolen in Chantier Naval Allemand boatyard.

Sadly our first night on stilts John's tow path bike was stolen, thief left the front wheel still chained up outside Marine shop, many bikes stolen in this town lots of front wheels left behind, sadly no bike rides together till it's replaced when we find the right one for him. Another boater who left boat for summer here had ropes and fenders stolen also. So we were careful not to leave tool's lying around.

Helping Hand on it's way

A phone call from Willem to say do you want help painting the Moet he said, "is four days ok to help out", I will drive over "bless you we said ". Up at 5.30 to start we said jokingly. Willem took us at our word and was up and ready that first morning for 5.30am we had to tie him to the bed following morning he was so eager. So nice to have morel support and it stops you shouting at each other.

Moet was in need of some tender loving care and we looked forward this

Willem's arrival was celebrated with a bottle of Moet to toast our web site continued success Google likes our site and says so in ratings wow.

Willem was magic with masking tape, we worked well as a team and we had some fun which is always nice when working so hard.

The wind was the hardest thing to deal with here and slowed our progress up. I thought John would go mad (hates the wind) but he soldiered on and smiled, especially when he had a nice cold beer calling him at the end of each day, kept him going, well deserved too I said, I am so proud of him he never stopped. We had the problem of painting around our sign writing. We taped around it for now and will varnish it later. Much too hot to paint as it dried too quickly sometimes.

Willem happy painting away - lovely new top deck

Painting here meant we had many elements to contend with i.e. The Wind/ boats grinding/ sand blasting/pressure washing other boats near by, the heat, you needed to chose your moments for each job. Some very valuable lesson's learnt here - especially regards what we would do next time, "get someone else to do all the work for us ", but then where is the fun and all that satisfaction of a job well done. No pain no gain my dad always said.

Willem says he remembers why he moved up north it was to get away from the wind. Wind blew so hard one day it gave us time to work on the web site. Up dating my computer from the disks Willem had brought with him. He's our good friend and web guru & researcher has worked so hard. THANK YOU WILLEM

Willem happy in his work updating dreamweaver to php on my computer and giving me lessons.

Enjoyed some really nice meal's on board or eating out by the beach this month. Grau d'Agde has a good market on every day, so shopping was no problem at all, I enjoyed my cycle rides each day when here. July is also festival month in France with much music and live entertainment in every village or town.

Willem brought his own kind of fun and jokes - his impression of me one day was "Irene you look like a farmer with sore teeth" - my back was not so happy. John had to empty tons of barrels of water, as we lived on dry land, some aching muscles for us all. I washed every thing on the boat many times.

We used four different colour paints on Moet, Black, Green, Red, and White, tons of masking tape to help the lines stay straight, we have so many on the boat. Up & down and moving ladders all day long kept us fit. We took off every door and re - painted till we had a shine we were happy with, it was all the little bits that took so much time.

Sea-faring ritual's in Agde/Grau d'Agde

Flaming mix of Steak and Duck

Fete des Pecheurs

We enjoyed watching all the fishing boats with family & friends travel down the river to spread flowers out at sea, paying Homage to the fishermen who didn't return from sea, a yearly event. Later we enjoyed a meal of steak and duck after it flamed away on our table, dowsed with brandy "um" the evening was good. My favourite find of the month is a 2004 Corbieres red wine by Chris Limouzi, I love the taste. Won silver medal in Paris last year. Willem thought it an excellent find for the price. I was thrilled he enjoyed the wines I choose.

All too soon Willem was ready to leave us and drive home to start painting his boat, taking with him some very stiff muscles indeed, On returning to his boat Cornelia he met our friends Erica & Knud who moored side of him in Chagny for Bastille night. They enjoyed a drink together on board "Linquenda". Willem a few days later enjoyed a drink on board Lea Crest, meeting our friends David & Pam for first time, it's a small world in boating.

Our work continues, the wind stays with us - keep smiling John. S

Our two weeks in this seaside resort was welcome, 5mins walk and you were in another world, so we took time to walk down on an evening and chill and chat & re-charge our batteries. (Some days no energy to re-charge). I enjoyed being so close to the beach, though it came with it's downfalls - the seagulls made such a mess on the boat after we painted, they just did not care. Seagull's mess took us some time to clean after we left here.

Sunsets in Allemand boatyard at the end of a hard working day - renewed our energy.

We met some amazing people working on their boats here, especially Jill in her 70's who worked so hard painting her boat. We enjoyed many a good story and a chat watching the sun go down. Though some days you had to put your head down, as you had too much to do. All the staff were very helpful and always available for advice (except lunch times of course). Or offer a piece of equipment that you make your life easier.

A lady welder (recommended by another boater) charged us just 15 euros to weld another 4 new anodes on, (now we have eight) a bargain, she bought a sailing boat moored next to our boat on same day, then flew off on holiday, her winter project. One day I had to rest my back so took myself off to the beach for a day off... needed to relax and chill from the grinding and dust of the other boats. John decided he was ok and carried on with other job's.

Beach at Grau d'Agde good safe swimming - July was a busy time here

Sadly we did not get all the painting finished off before we were asked to leave the boatyard, we had gone over our slotted two weeks, fewer spaces for big boats. We finished the painting work on the canal side which was no problem, but we were disappointed not to have the extra days we needed.

Our lift back into the River Herault

We were not sorry to leave the mess and noise of this boatyard behind us. It felt so good when we finally moved back safely into the water, much care was taken when lifting us, Henri did a grand job of moving boats here, he is very experienced indeed. But he gives you no notice, he just brings his toy (many different boat lifts) and moves you, even if you are not ready, this was our experience and other boaters.

Our washing machine also never stopped all the time we stayed here, I washed all the curtains, bedding and every thing that was not attached, it felt good spring cleaning the boat inside as well as out. It needed it so badly after our time here.

Was the boat painting job worth all the hard work - YES - we are very proud of our boat

We had dust settle inside the boat for the rest of the month it took many cleans to get the boat this shiny.

The Moet Shines again - we dipped our dolphin into the med sea.

We left Allemand & followed the river Herault, having dipped Moet in the sea, at least she tasted the salt water, "Moet" said get me out of these waves, so we did, back to the safe canal du Midi.

You can just see the two light houses we leave behind above our dolphin's fin, (a present from Moet's previous owner). It was almost time for the fishing boats to return home and we wanted to be out of their way.

Thousands of seagulls follow the fishing boats and we did not want to become a white boat - wonder if that's why sailing boats are mostly white!. Sailors they love the wind and seagulls, think we are only kidding boaters, we like calm waters, and don't like making waves too much, not good for the banks on canal.

Cruise to river Aude to meet Colibri for next painting job.

Earl and Fiona booked this VNF dock space for 7 nights early last Autumn for maintenance and repair work between their cruises. As you can imagine not many drydock space available, so booking well in advance is needed. Drydock fully booked to the end of June 2008. Total cost was just under 300 (165 euros to be dried and floated again). this is for flat bottomed boats only.

L'Epanchoir de Gailhousty drydock in Salleles-d'Aude end of Canal de Jonction.

The cost of hiring the Gailhousty drydock is 3 euros per day with water and electric metered. You are given a bill at the end of your stay. This is a good place to work... peaceful (no seagull's or wind while we were here). Fiona and Earl have all the right tool's they needed. They hired a heavy duty pressure washer from Beziers for a day at a cost of 34 euros. Earl did a grand job of getting the bottom of Colibri ready for painting. Fiona & I washed away all the grime from the pressure washing. John enjoyed painting with Earl making Colibri shiny & new. John learnt a great deal about painting, what we could have done different when painting Moet. We would use this drydock in future and be well prepared with tools.

Fiona dressed Earl in lots of layers after he has a reaction to the tar paint he was using, his eyes were so sore for a few days, lots of grit from the pressure washing (forgot his mask). John did not suffer as much but his skin was tender they both looked very sun burnt after first day.

Together they soon had two coats of tar on. Also young Douglas joined in for a day's experience helping on last day to put third layer on. John & Earl also had time to paint all the green up to the white stripe and touch up above it. She looked so good when finished and washed.

All the boys worked long & hard in 40 degree's heat and enjoyed a couple beers later.

Barge Colibri looked stunning when Earl & Fiona had finished they truly work very hard and long hours for the last two three years to have got to this stage, with many years of planning before hand. It was a pleasure to help them both, we gained much out of the experience too. I enjoyed helping out with drinks and food for the first two days while Fiona was very busy in the engine room putting in a new alternator, having dismantled old one she also serviced all the equipment, no end to her talents.

From River Aude into Gailhousty lock      

We waved each other off a day earlier than planned Colibri bright a button. We are already looking forward to meeting up again soon. They have a busy time ahead on their way to pick up passengers, busy all season. We thankfully both rested for a few days. I was working hard on web site while resting.

What an end to a wonderful busy month - we have enjoyed all the visitors this month with lots of learning + some good tips stored for the future.