Join us on our travels around Europe aboard our Dutch Tjalk Francoise

  • Jill Budd

    After 6 years aboard our Narrowboat Matilda Rose in the UK, we took the plunge and shipped her across to Europe. After 2 years in Europe we knew we didn't want to return to the UK so took the plunge and purchased a 1902 20 mtr Dutch Tjalk called Francoise and are now continuing our travels of the waterways of Europe in a buxom wench

  • December 2015
    M T W T F S S
  • Meta

Moving to Francoise

Posted by contentedsouls on 09/12/2015

Having secured a month’s mooring at St Symphorien for Matilda Rose, on Wednesday morning we dropped the dinette down into the spare double bed and spent the rest of the day and Thursday packing our worldly goods into bin bags. After we received confirmation that our payment for Francoise had arrived Thursday lunchtime, G started loading the car to the roof, making sure to leave space for the boys and Daisy’s cat carrier and litter tray. Loading the car wasn’t so easy as ‘we’ had to climb over the boat we were brested up to and across a single gang plank; not a job to be done in the dark. In the few days that we were there, half of Baxter managed to slide off the plank once and all of him slid off and went straight in once; as did our neighbouring friend’s cat – the metal gangways get extremely slippery.


Alarm set for 5am Friday morning, we finished the final bits of packing and loaded up the menagerie without any further cold water mishaps, setting off at 7.15 for our 2 3/4 hour drive South to the Port of Roanne where Francoise is presently moored. In an ideal world we would have cruised MR down to Francoise and brested up to empty everything out (a 10-14 day cruise) but there are significant closures en route at the moment; the most significant of which being the Canal du Centre which has been emptied!

After a cuppa and pain au chocolat with the owners, Barry and Alison, we spent the day trying to absorb their 8 years of expertise, meet the port Capitan and locate the rented garage. After a thoughtfully provided lunch, we finished picking their brains before they departed for a local hotel ready to return to the Isle of Wight in the morning – a long old journey in rough seas overnight on the St Malo ferry.

It was only after they’d left us that the enormity of how much they’d left us sunk in; tools beyond even G’s extensive range, enough paint to completely re-paint her, spares up the yin yang, etc., right through to electric blankets for each berth, a pair of bicycles and a bottle of Champagne. We unloaded the car contents into the spare room which is a wondrous thing to be able to do as we could remove one bag at a time to deal with and not live in a mess.

Daisy was settled within the hour and loves all the ‘high ground’ – she can get from the wheelhouse, through the saloon and dining area into the galley without touching the floor. The dogs settled well but Baxter is being a bit clingy and didn’t want us out of his sight.

Things wot I have learnt, so far about living on this elderly barge:

* If you drop a bag of spaghetti on the floor the strands line themselves up with the floor boards and disappear down the cracks.

* If you leave a big pantry drawer open Daisy can climb down the back into the bilges.

* If you try and throw rubbish out of the port holes you are thwarted by fly screens

* If you don’t watch where you are going on the gunwales you fall down a small step – 3 times

* If you are a Muttley you can run around the gunwales but you can’t turn round on them

* If you are a Baxter you can sleep out the back in the sun and no-one can leave without going passed you as there is only one way in and out (apart from the emergency hatch in the bedroom).

Here are a few random photos (including some dirty bits). Sorry if this blog is not very coherent but, as you can imagine, we are very, very, tired (and very,very, happy). We should be a bit more organised by the weekend but I wanted to get something out.



15 Responses to “Moving to Francoise”

  1. ianmccauley2014 said

    Wonderful pictures and story. I’d love to hear what you think of her handling while cruising compared to MR. Unless, of course, you are so comfortable now that you have become sessile!


    • No chance of the latter; we have one more day’s work to finish stowing and provisioning and then we’re ready to go… except the waterway is closed. I’m chomping at the bit now. There is something called ‘exceptional passage’ which we’re relying on to start cruising MR down. I can’t believe I’ve lived on a boat for a week that hasn’t moved!!!!

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Kevin TOO said

    WOW, yes I know I have said that before, but what else is there to say but WOW !!!

    Thanks for the write-up and photos, you’ve certainly made me smile tonight as I can
    clearly ‘hear’ in your words how thoroughly excited you both are, a bit like a couple
    of five year olds after meeting Santa in person and being given the best present ever… LOL

    Really looking forward to your future adventures aboard MV Francoise 🙂

    I have seen VNF draining a canal to do their ‘winter works’ many years ago, can’t remember
    which canal it was though (old age), can you imagine the uproar if C&RT closed the whole GU?? 😉

    Liked by 1 person

    • You and me both – need to be adventuring soooooon! The problem with the winter closures here are only the commercials (and us) want to move and this isn’t commercial – there is no demand for VNF to supply!!! I guess one mad English couple doesn’t represent a ‘demand’


  3. Jennie said

    May I wish you many years of happiness aboard Francoise. Fabulous photos.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Jaqueline said

    G and the crew look suprêmement comfortbale–G looks as though he’s always lived aboard a grand boat! Thanks for a great post and pictures Jill. It must seem HUGE compared to MR! Happy Christmas!!

    Liked by 1 person

    • G is like a duck to water (or a pig in…). It is amazing how quickly you get used to the space. Just one large stowage/organisation left and we’re done, with space to spare. I’ll soon fix that; I’m off shopping….
      Have a great Xmas; love to you both.


  5. andywindy said

    Apart from the canal draining excercise by the VNF (which I have no experience of) I find I must repeat Kevin TOO. Oh and aldso repeat again WOW!
    I think you’ve captured Daisy in a typical Feline “If it’s out of reach of them Dogs its MINE” territory claiming excercise perfectly Jill, and if you feel only half as comfortable and at home as Graham looks in the photos, then I predict a very happy future for all of you.
    May I suggest Chicken Wire to restrict Daisy in access to the Bilges? I know you may not intend to leave Drawers open but after spending some time trying to get my Daughter’s cat Sooty out of her Sofa that I was trying to mend on Monday, I remembered just how infuriating an inquisitive Feline can be!
    Oh and finally, did Baxter read my comments on the last Blog?


  6. Phil & Paula said

    Hi to you both,

    Francoise looks stunning and with so much space! Mutley & Baxter look like they’re settling in already as well. Hope the stoppages don’t hinder you too much over the Winter.

    We start our adventure at Migennes in April 16 and will be cruising to Roanne (assuming we can get a berth) by the end of the season. So if you are heading North we will keep an eye out for you next year.

    All the very best.

    Phil & Paula


    • Hi guys; we could cruise Matilda Rose still as we planned around the stoppages. Unfortunately the previous owners of Francoise didn’t stay over winter so she is stuck in Port and we can’t get the boats together yet.
      I see you have a WBNB and are shipping her over – I bet your excitement levels are rising now!
      We shall be travelling North up the Nivernais, Briare way and may well meet up depending on which route you take down. If you are over wintering in Roanne it’s a great place: the port is quiet outside a thriving town with everything in reach of a bike ride/15 minute walk.
      The other boaters are extremely friendly too.


      • Do you have the e-mail address for Herve the port Capitan? He seems to operate only by e-mail or appointments; it’s worth contacting him re a berth and he’ll want a photo of your boat – evidently if he says ‘perhaps’ you are in (his English is good), but a stab at a bit of French always go down well!


      • Phil & Paula said

        Hi to you both,

        We are starting to get very excited now, after 5 years of planning and working towards it! I also knew it was time to finish work when 3* and 216 ended!

        We are launching at Evans Marine and plan to cruise South via the Yonne onto the Nivernais down to Decize then via Digoin to Roanne. I don’t think we’re hardy enough to cruise over our first Winter (maybe subsequent ones) so hope to berth in Roanne. We’ve seen the application page on the Port de Roanne website which requires a photo upload etc but dont have an email address for the port Capitain.

        We had also planned on leaving our car at home in the UK but having read on your blog how useful it is to have one and managed to get it insured for unlimited use in Europe we’re now going to have it with us.

        I’m sure you must be excited about Francoise as well. When/where do you hope to get the two boats together? And will Mutley and Baxter then commandeer MR as a lovely kennel:-)


  7. Excellent; we should meet up then. I think you have made a good call in bringing your car across and, on the whole, the rail network is good and cheap for car recovery. Hoping to get MR down to Roanne after Xmas, emptied, cleaned and any odd jobs done before putting her up for sale – Baxter and Muttley won’t be allowed in at that point!!!!

    Contact Herve Petelet, Port Capitain.


    • Phil & Paula said

      Thanks for the info. Have a great Christmas and all the best for your plan with MR in the NY. If there’s anything you need from the UK that we can bring with us in April just let us know. Look forward to meeting you on the Nivernais.


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