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This year's end of school report... Due to Covid-19 lockdowns and the French border being closed to the majority of our usual clients, 2020 has been a quiet year for 'Somewhere'. We had a good couple of weeks in Toulouse dry dock, painting, maintaining and fitting new air conditioning onboard. We've even moved our operating area to the Canal Garonne as it's near the house we recently purchased.

Here's what we've actually done (last year's figures in brackets for comparison):

Engine hours 124.3 (429.7)
Kilometres travelled 480 (1,396)
Locks negotiated 132 (568)

Here's hoping to a better year when the season starts again at the end of March 2021, when we should see lots more activity on the French inland waterways. We look forward to welcoming new boaters onto the canals and making new friends.
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What a mammoth year 2020 has been for our most recent guests Eric and Kathy from USA. After purchasing their new [to them] Piper barge earlier in the year, Covid 19 stopped them from being able to get to France to both move onboard and of course take their vital training for their ICC.

Fate was on their side and they were lucky enough to escape on a rare, late summer transatlantic flight to Europe and after a short time in the UK they eventually moved onboard their barge in France and began settling onboard for their new year round floating home.

Even more luck on their side - we had availability and were able to run the RYA Helmsman course for them JUST as the second confinement period was announced. In fact they opted for a third day training which crossed over into the confinement period - but thankfully a common sense and flexible application of the 2nd confinement at short notice meant we were able to return to port safely and all of us return home without any problems and we even had lovely warm autumn sunshine too!

More importantly, they both passed the RYA Helmsman and CEVNI test with ease and can now enjoy their new cruising lifestyle in France.

Bon voyage! Bonne chance avec vos cours de franΓ§ais πŸ˜€
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Another week and another EGP. Well done Eric congratulations. You got there at last. Now you can explore aboard Ria. Bon voyage. ... See MoreSee Less

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A beautiful day in Villeton for day two of our first EGP for 2020. It’s been a long wait for Mike to get his licence, but at last he’ll be able to enjoy a cruise aboard Maria. Bon voyage. ... See MoreSee Less

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Our new base in Buzet sur BaΓ―se has opened up an alternative option of non-residential training for those not needing or wanting to experience life aboard a barge whilst learning how to handle one. This weeks student, Nigel found this a more suitable choice when he needed his RYA Helmsman, CEVNI and ICC.

The soaring August temperatures and Covid-19 safety measures of masks brought a different dynamic for him, but he coped well with the necessary precautions. After many years as trawlerman his ropework was a doddle, but the CEVNI and canal effect caused him some worries, but he passed without any problem and is now ready to begin his new life afloat - once his house sales completes next week!

Bon voyage et bon chance.
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After an enforced lockdown we have at last just completed our first RYA Helmsman training course. Michael's journey to us was rather complex, being an Australian, stuck on his sailboat in the Caribbean (a French island) he eventually found a route to France with several weeks to prepare for his CEVNI and first inland waterways experience after many years sailing the oceans.

Michael coped with all our Covid-19 safety measures and protocols to ensure we all remained safe and well. He passed with flying colours and is now ready to begin his barge cruising adventure of Europe aboard his newly acquired barge 'yet to be named'.

Bon voyage Michael.
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Fantastic news everyone...we are reopening next month. Training dates are being rescheduled for our revised timetable. Do message us if you hoping to join us this year for a Barging Experience in the glorious sunshine of the South. πŸ˜€ ... See MoreSee Less

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5 months ago

Bargecraft Boat School

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At last, we're underway and what a beautiful river on a beautiful day!

It wasn't all for pleasure, unfortunately, our first official river trip of 2020 for our 'sea trial' to complete our survey and inspection for our Communautaire Certificat renewal. The surveyor's notebook is full of measurements, readings and inspection notes but more important were his closing words...'passed with flying colours'.

Tomorrow we start the journey to our new moorings and all eyes on French government announcements that from 11 July we can reopen and welcome guests aboard. πŸ˜€
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It's been a difficult year without clients being able to get into France, let alone to us! We've taken advantage though... Bum scrub, fresh paint job and new air conditioning onboard! Once we're able, new clients will of course be welcome! ... See MoreSee Less

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Overtaking. There's a time and a place - and a speed. Exceeding the 8 kph speed limit causes increased erosion to the sides of the canal. It can also have a negative effect on the vessel being overtaken. On this occasion we had to take over from the student to make sure 'Somewhere' did not strike the bank. We caught up with this boat at the next lock as the lock keeper (eclusier) knew we were coming and made them wait. We all had a chat... ... See MoreSee Less

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2019 end of year school report: 'Somewhere' has travelled some 1,396 kilometers, negotiated 568 locks and had her engine running for 429 hours! We have met some lovely people - 34 new boaters, most of whom are either already on their new boats or waiting for them to be launched. We're now at our winter mooring, this year in Moissac, awaiting another most enjoyable season. However, next year we're on the Canal Garonne! More news on our website soon... ... See MoreSee Less

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Our cruise to this season's winter mooring was shared with our last guest of the 2019 season, Jessica. She's been planning to purchase a hotel barge for a few years now, after being inspired by her aunt and uncles barging adventure many years ago.

Successfully completing her RYA inland waterways Helmsman and CEVNI examination with us this week means she's ticked off the first step to put her business plan into action. Next stop, VHF, French CEVNI then her EGP and not forgetting her ASP - didn't realise there were so many acronyms in the barging world!!

See you soon Jessica for your EGP and good luck with your purchase - but just what colour will you choose to 'tone' down the rather colourful peniche on your shortlist? πŸ™‚
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A brief holiday a couple on a narrowboat from Meilhan-sur-Garonne a couple of years ago started a long term dream for Chris and Helen. Perhaps the dream will come true to spend more time in France with a live aboard barge now they've accomplished their ICC with us. Big decisions to make with an already dual residency in the UK and Dordogne house - how will an inland waterways adventure fit into their retirement plans? Perhaps next years floating holiday from Agen will help map out if it's really for them.

Looking forward to passing you next July on the Canal de la Garonne - Bon voyage.
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The last days of summer closed in as Robin and Catherine joined us for their RYA Helmsman and Crewman boat training. The morning chill very evident as they prepared to set off on their mammoth 8 hour drive to view a potential barge they've had their eye on for a while. At least now they have the barge handling and crewing skills all ready for when they make their final decision. Bon voyage and we hope to see you soon along the Midi! πŸ™‚ ... See MoreSee Less

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Chris and Christine found having a wheel and stern was something a bit different to managing their narrow boats with a tiller. They coped fine and passed with flying colours, so they're all ready for their European adventure in 2020, but back to the tiller!

Good luck with the crossing party and enjoy the French and Belgian cruising. Maybe see you this far south before too much longer πŸ˜€
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David and Katrina from Colorado are a very happy couple to have completed their RYA Inland Waterways Helmsman with us and some very impressive CEVNI test results, very well done. Now it's time to find your own dutch barge to begin the French barging adventure...at least living in their 'RV' for a few months is preparing them for 'compact living'.
Hope to see you both in years to come, happy barge hunting πŸ˜€
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When Mike and Karen joined us recently we saw a role reversal...normally the engine room inspires the chaps, but this time Karen was enthralled tracing a water cooling problem and happy to assist replacing a worn impeller.

I guess your beautiful barge 'Maria' will be lovingly maintained with an efficient and immaculate engine room thanks to Karen. πŸ‘©β€πŸ”§
See you soon for your 'Grande Plaisance'.
Bon voyage
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