Our time in Auxonne has been very pleasant. We have met a number of local people who have all been very friendly and even a little appreciative of our attempts to master the language. We have adopted the ‘Longchamp’ – a bar in town, 10 minutes walk from Port Royal. When we first visited, Phillippe and Francoise, the hosts and their chef Joel welcomed us very warmly. That, plus well kept beers and great food, and we just kept coming back.
Shortly before we departed, Roy and Carol Sycamore returned. They manage Port Royal and had been away in Belgium for a little while when Carol became ill and needed to be in hospital. It was a real pleasure to meet them both on their return. They have spent years professionally driving a 38 metre peniche in the waterways and have a wealth of experience. They also have made us so very welcome – so much so, that with all the other nice people here in Auxonne, we are seriously considering over-wintering here in 2012 as well.
As part of our daily routine we go for a walk, minimum 20 minutes, maximum around 10km, and it is doing us both a lot of good. Activities to prepare our lovely Wight Mistress have included topping up the fuel tanks to the brim, thus reducing risk of condensation into the fuel. This involved using the marina trolley – a toughened up version of one like Matt had when he was little – a red four wheeler with a pull handle. This thing was capable of carrying 60 ltrs of diesel in cans; fortunately we were strong enough to haul it through the town. The cheapest fuel we could find was at ‘Intermarche’ E1.34 a ltr. ‘Casino’ was a couple of cents more, so Intermarche had the business. We did 2 lots of 60 ltrs plus another 30 ltrs, which topped up both tanks and left 5 ltrs spare in one of the cans.
What this did for us, more than anything else, was to help refine our fuel consumption calculations. Still working on it to get it completely right but the first estimate is that Wight Mistress, underway and using the diesel stove as well for a couple of hours a day, consumes at worst, 1.5 ltrs per hour and at best, 0.9 ltrs per hour. This is fantastic; in our initial estimate for costing we considered 4 ltrs per hour as an average.
So, fuel done, antifreeze replaced (we were warned that Auxonne temperatures can drop as far as -30 deg C), oil changed, antifreeze washed through exhaust system, seacocks shut, bungs in openings, water tanks drained, taps open, pumps shut down, systems isolated all over the place etc etc. Steve devised a ‘frost stat’ system where certain low wattage heaters will come on if the boat’s cabin temperature drops below 5 deg C. Robert, on Billow, was impressed with this so one was duly built for them too.
Two huge tarpaulins were lashed over the coach roof and wheel house and Barbara fashioned some reflective patches, made out of car windscreen covers (E2.oo each from Casino) each windscreen cover making a number of our window and door covers. So, everything is covered, insulated, drained, dismantled, isolated, protected etc etc etc. We hope she will be fine until we return and wake her up.
We have enjoyed the waterways so very much that we intend to spend next year doing the same sort of thing.