Our time in France on JoLi’ this year was to be centered around our mandatory insurance haul-out and inspection which we
had chosen to be performed in a yard in Belgium. This would be our first haul-out since the purchase of JoLi’ 6 years ago. Our
insurance company requires that every 5 years the steel hull of the ship must be measured by ultra-sound to verify a minimum
Two major events were in store for us
with JoLi' Folie for 2007:
Our insurance survey and haul-out. After studying the proposals from the yards that we visited in October of 2006, we
decided on Vankerkoven in Pont de Loup, Belgium to perform the work. The yard was on the outskirts of Charleroi a busy
industrial steel processing town in Belgium.
We would once again be the "little guys" in the yard as we were for Net Result. The average size for the ships that
Vankerkoven handled was anywhere from 70-90 meters. Our little 23 meters would make us look like these ships tender! The
yards facilities were what impressed us the most. It had a diverse amount of services and a reputation of doing excellent work.
Very little english is spoken, and that's understandable since the yard caters to mostly commercial ships that are Belgian. Ah,
yet another dictionary of terms for Lisa to learn!
Read more about the experience in August - September…
...continued below the photos
We had decided on a change of location for us. We loved St. Symphorien - the many scenic canals that were in this water
junction, the people we met, and the life in the country. But, it was time for a change. While in Paris in October of 2006 we
spent 3 days in a rental car (without a GPS on the verge of divorce) visiting every possible mooring in the area that would be
able to accommodate a 23 meter barge. Many of the locations were either too noisy, too run down, too poorly laid out, too far
from Paris, were too expensive, or did not have a place for a barge our size.
On our last day of searching we hit the mother load. We were both exhausted and disappointed when we drove in to the
little port that we fell in love with. We immediately took to the port captain and his wife and they explained to us that there
were only 4 places for a barge of our size and that they were all taken by boats that had been there since the port opened 12
years prior. I suppose they saw our long faces, and offered us an option of the transiting boat dock in high season from Oct. 1-
May 1st. We quickly decided to snatch the opportunity and give living in Paris a go during the winter of 2007-2008.
Read more about this experience in Oct 2007-2008…
We returned to France in the beginning of May and didn’t do any annual painting prior to departure thinking that we’d be in the
yard and that it would be better to wait until we had left. Two days after our return Joe starting having a tooth ache and it
turned out he needed a root canal and new crown. Thank heavens it happened prior to our departure on our journey to Belgium!
The process would end up taking about 4 weeks, so we did some small projects which included installing 2 wall cabinets and a
vent over the stove, Lisa busied herself with the usual planting of flowers and herbs for the season and we visited with friends.
We departed our mooring on the 7th of June the day after his final dentist apt though we left the port of St. Symphoriein on the
6th of June and took Claude and the 2 kids with us for a short ride to moor and have a farewell BBQ with the family before
leaving. It was a super experience for the kids to sit in the wheelhouse and watch the walls come up around them in the lock
infront of their house that they see everyday. But this was from such a different perspective for them.
The journey from our mooring in central France to the yard outside of Charleroi, Belgium would take 3 weeks traveling every
day. We prefer to stop along the way and since we had traveled most of this route before, we had some favorite spots that we
wanted to spend some time in along the way. Our route would take us up the Saone River to the Canal des Vosges, to the
Moselle River, on to the Canal de Meuse and over the border to Belgium and on to the busy Sambre River to the boat yard just
outside of Charleroi, Belgium.
We stopped frequently along the way to stay at some of our favourite places and we took our motorcycle off and did visits to La
Rochere - the 14c glassworks factory, a silver and inox 15c cutlery factory, and a new stop this year the deBuyer cookware
factory. As always we did a fair bit of shopping at La Rochere and challenged ourselves once again on how much we could carry
on the motorcyle. The deBuyer factory was a 50km ride from where we were moored, but it was a pleasant ride through the
vosges mountains and we stopped at a few waterfalls in the forest. The weather had been pleasant until this stop (mid-june) and
so we lucked out in being able to ride the motorcyle this far. I managed to pick up a pretty good supply of new cookware to
replace my worn out copper that I had bought when we first had JoLi'. Now THAT was a challenge to bring back on the
motorcycle, but it's amazing how carrying such goodies are so much easier to overload yourself with! ;-)
The weather turned down from the middle of June and didn't see any decent, (not great, just decent). weather again until the
middle of August. We turned on the central heating in July and there was so much rain the canals were full to overflowing at a
time that usually there are water conservation policies in effect. One section closed for a week because of too much water that
the weirs were not able to control. Some days we took the motorcycle off the barge just to go for a ride in the country. Boy, do
we love having the transportation to allow us to go further than on our bicycles.
We spent Bastille Day in Verdun. The Fireworks were magnificent! From there we put our heads down and pushed on to Belgium.
We had met a super nice Belgian couple in 2006 who had recommended the yard Vankerkoven. We saw them again in July just
north of Sedan, France and they had arranged a place for us in their yacht club of Anseremme just over the border in Belgium
for a couple of days. It was a delightful stop. We took the motorcycle off and rode the 60kms to the yard to verify that
everything was OK for our arrival. We were scheduled for the 15th of August but Vankerkoven allowed us to leave the boat in
the water at the yard for a few weeks prior so we could visit our friends Hil & Pete in London from the 1st-15th of August.
We were stunned when we arrived this time. It's a MASSIVE operation but it wasn't as busy when we visited previously in
October 2006. They have 2 haul out sections. One that's 110m x 40m - there they had 4 (four) 80-100m long commercial ships
being worked on. One had everything forward of it's wheelhouse (and engine) cut off and a plate was welded at the cut and then
that section (now we're talking about 70m!) dropped back in the water to be moved away, and a whole new front cargo section
had been shipped in from China that they were in the process of welding on. We have a picture of a little (normal) cruiser motor
boat of about 9m at the front of this line of 4 ships. (see 90 meter barge photo in this section) It really gives you a good idea of
the size of these things!
Then they have a dry dock that's like a big lock or "pit" if you will that's for boats up to 39m. It's 53m x 25m and fits 3 boats at
a time. You drive in to this pit and then they close the gate behind you and empty all the water out until you're sitting on
(hopefully) rows of like railroad ties and voila you're on the hard.
On the way home to Anseremme we had a flat tire on the motorcycle! Joe had to push the bike about 4kms to a town where I
had run on ahead and found a motorcycle shop who would let us leave the bike there overnight and they would repair the tire in
the morning. It was a further 4kms to the boat. We were exhausted!