It had to happen sooner or later. Our relationship had to come to an end. Despite all we've been through, the exciting times, the stressful times, the adventures as well as the challenges, it is time to part.
I'm not talking about Liz and me, no, oh no; I am talking about our time with Liberty, our lovely boat. It's time to go our seperate ways.
Those of you who have read - or listened to - Against The Current, will know that Liberty was our home for a whole year, from September 2013 to September 2014, and has given us many months' cruising pleasure each year since then. She has taken us through French rivers and canals, from the centre to the south, the south back to the north, and quite a few detours in between. She deserves a medal.
This year however, Liz and I could only manage three weeks together on board, cruising from our winter mooring at Cergy-Pontoise on the River Oise, and up north through Champagne in some glorious weather. After Liz went back to work, my mate Shaun (who has a couple of cameo roles in the book) took over as crewmember for ten days, and since then I've been handling the boat on my own, although in the company of a lovely Belgian couple, Agnes and Francois, on their boat Plons (meaning 'Splash').
Given that we have to pay for winter moorings, plus insurance, plus a vignette for when we're cruising, plus fuel, a three-week stint aboard is not what Liz and I would call economical, or value for money. Also, Liz has just scored a new job, which means we are moving from Liverpool to (much more expensive) London, which is going to be stretching our purse strings to breaking point. Owning a boat in France is therefore a luxury we can't afford anymore, and so, reluctantly, we're soon putting her on the market.
Last summer, in 2016, we spent a lot of time working on the hull, fixing up dents and scratches, replacing the anti-fouling, repainting the hull, and changing the old orange stripes to a more classy black (see picture above). We fitted a brand new boiler/calorifier, two brand new thruster batteries (brilliant), changed the engine oil and filters, and generally fixed various things that needed seeing to.
That work continues, with a new 12-volt battery charger, and soon a new hand-held VHF radio to replace the old installed unit which gave up the ghost a few months back.
All-in-all, Liberty is as good, if not better, than when we bought her, and her lovely Yanmar 110 horsepower diesel has still done less than 3000 hours.
From mid-August I will be slowly cruising north from where she is moored now - at Sillery in Champagne - up through northern France and into Belgium. This winter she will be moored at a boat club marina in St Job at Antwerp, thanks to the recommendation of our new boating buddies Agnes and Francois. They're going to be my shepherds all the way there.
Liberty will initially be advertised on sites such as Apolloduck, and will be offered for sale privately and not through a broker. If you're interested in discovering this wonderful boating life, or know someone else who might be, then don't hesitate to email me.
Here are some vital statistics:
Liberty is an Aquanaut Unico 1100
Dimensions: 11.4 metres length x 3.75 metres beam, water draft 1.2 , air draft 2.7 metres
Built in Holland by Aquanaut in 1995
Two previous owners that we know of
Powered by a Yanmar 110hp diesel
Bow and stern thrusters for easy manoeuvering
Bimini top included
Davits at stern for a tender or kayak
Swim platform with ladder
Two steering positions - one indoors, one on the flybridge
Fully equipped for inland waterways, Liberty is also suitable for coastal use (new owner to ensure compliance)
One large master cabin with island bed and wardrobes plus other storage
Salon with banquettes convertible to double bed
Fully-equipped galley with four-hob gas stovem 12-volt fridge, microwave
Circular dining area forard, also convertible to a bed (suit two smaller children or one curved adult!)
Proper bathroom with shower, toilet, and handbasin with cupboards above and below
Diesel-powered Wabasto heating, plus radiator and fan heating for when on shore power
Variety of 12-volt and 240-volt power outlets
Life jackets/bouyancy aids
New lounge and dining area carpets
Plenty of storage throughout the boat
And, Liberty will come with its own signed copy of Against the Current, of course!