Join Heidi Hasler as she takes her Sealine C330 from Brixham to the Mediterranean via the French canals

So my first article has been published in the June 2018 issue of MBY – how exciting! To say I’m pleased with myself is an understatement.

To make life even more interesting, I have been asked to write about Chilaxin’s upcoming trip across the channel, into the French waterways, and down to the Mediterranean sea in this blog.

We intend for the trip to take around 5-6 weeks – to allow us to stop in a few places and actually appreciate some of the beautiful towns and villages on the way.  Somewhere we both want to stop for a couple of days is Paris – it’s a must!

How have we prepared for the trip?
It’s taken a few months and lots of research and yet another certificate taken – CEVNI. This is not required in the UK but it’s the equivalent to the Highway Code and allows us to go through the European waterways.

Opening the taps on board Chilaxin

We have downloaded published books including Through the French Canals by David Jefferson and three books covering different sections of inland waterways in France, by Imray. All have been really helpful. My partner Kev has also been using Google Maps to look at the bridges, locks and marinas all along the route to help plan the specific stops for fuel, provisions, points of interest and possible hazards (height issues mainly).

We have put together our own digital book which has all the important documents that we will need for port authorities. These include the following:

  • SSR or Part 1 Document
  • Bill of sale
  • Builders certificate with RCD compliance
  • Passport or other ID
  • Insurance documentation
  • VHF license
  • VHF onboard and handset have both been changed and enabled for ATIS – this was a quick call to Ofcom and amendment of our existing licence
  • Skipper to have ICC with CEVNI endorsment

What will our route be?
Due to the air draught of the Sealine C330 the route is height dependant. On the 18 May we will be leaving Brixham and heading to Guernsey with the Brixham Bay Hoppers. There will be 13 boats both sail and power, going across for the weekend.

The following Monday, most will be heading back whilst the others will be travelling on to France. We will be heading to Le Havre for the night and to refuel. From Le Havre, we head down the Seine to Rouen for another fuel top-up and stop over, later continuing on to Port De Venables, Port Ilon (another fuel stop), Port Clergy, and then… Paris!

Here we will stay for a couple of days to have a look around the city, somewhere I have not been for 20 years and am very excited about!

The above trip will take us a week to complete (with the extended stay in Paris).  We have estimated that each day we will travel 5-6 hours on the Seine.

Exploring the River Hamble

From Paris we continue to St Mammes, then join the Canal du Loing, into the Canal de Briare followed by Canal Latéral à la Loire and then finally into the Canal du Centre before we reach the Saóne and Chalon-sur-Saône.  This section is 414km, 149 locks and max speed limit of 3.5 knots.

This is going to be slow going and there are some low bridges to be tackled – max height above waterline 3.5m, draught 1.8m! Chilaxin is fine for the draught, however we may, in places, need to remove the radar to get through or just invite lots of people onboard for a beer to get us under the bridge!

From Chalon-sur-Saône, the final leg will be down the Rhône to Montpellier via Lyon. The first section to Lyon is around 170km and the speed increases to 16 knots with a few slower sections at 8 knots but Chilaxin will be happier at these speeds. There are only five locks and no height issues at this point.

Chillaxin’s comfortable saloon

From Lyon we head south, towards Montpellier again. No height issues and speeds of 16 knots, an increase in locks to 13 but these are open really early until late as there is more commercial traffic at this point. The distance is approximately 323km.

Once we get to the Mediterranean, we will head south towards Barcelona, to MDL’s Sant Carles Marina, where we will stay for a week and explore the coastline and Barcelona before heading back.

During our adventure, I will be posting on our YouTube channel – subscribe to see our updates! There will be a weekly post so that you can see aerial footage as well as other video footage of the trip – and hopefully some helpful tips too!