Here’s another way to interest Brenda in sailing, uh…boating. I think.

My family often jokes that my life for the last 35+ years with Brenda has been a series of desperate moves designed to help her enjoy her time aboard as much as I do.

So, do I think that this is a fair assessment?  Yes indeed, I have done pretty well except for the times, which might possibly have been too frequent, when she hasn’t enjoyed it.  It’s those not so fun times that our oldest son Rob refers to as “career limiting  moves” (CLMs).

Examples of CLMs include.. a day spent thrashing to windward.  CLM.  Nights spent at anchor with no wind and temperatures in the high 80s or worse.  CLM. Day after day of rain and nothing to do.  Well, you get the picture.

The good news is that after so many years of cruising with me, Brenda continues to spend months every year aboard.  That’s very good.  I guess that means that the good times outweigh the CLMs.  Good.  So, with that in mind, what am I planning as my next set of “desperate moves”?

Yes, that’s the burning question for me as we prepare to return to Florida and Pandora in a few week for our second visit to the Bahamas.  I do find self thinking “what next?”.    Will we go for a third season in the Bahamas next winter or branch out for something new?

We do enjoy the Bahamas very much.  What’s not to like about warm temperatures and chrystal clear water?  Yes, it’s pretty nice.

However, I know that Brenda really wants to visit places that have great architecture, art and restaurants.  The Bahamas have some of that but that’s not what they are known for.

Here’s an idea… Brenda majored in the classics.  Latin and Greek.  So, where can we go with Pandora where there’s lots of that sort of thing.  Yes, you guessed it. Europe, across the “Pond”.

Also, she I know that enjoys river cruising and our trip down the ICW last year was very enjoyable.   So, recently I mentioned the idea of taking Pandora on a canal tour from the English Channel all the way to the Med.  She loved the idea.  How cool is that?

So, I decided to do some preliminary research.  I found that there are some 5,000 miles of canals in France, most of which are deep enough to float Pandora, and the operative word is “most”.  This map shows just how extensive they are.  The dark blue colored canals are plenty deep to float Pandora, the lighter blue ones, just barely, I think.  I have contacted an expert on the subject and he seems to think that we can plow our way through the shallow parts and not get stuck.

This map shows just how extensive the network is.  Pretty amazing.  I am told that the part of the trip that is in central France will be the most challenging for our draft.  I guess we’d enter in Rouen and exit in Petit Rhone.  For now, I am keeping my fingers crossed regarding the “skinny water” in central France.  Besides, I don’t want to go fast anyway.  Too much to see along the way.

The site, is a great source of information on the canals and the moderator/editor, Grehan, has been very responsive to my questions.  It is his opinion that with my 1.8m draft I should be able to push my way through the low spots and do fine everywhere else.  I guess I will need more information on that score but it’s an encouraging start.

I found this interesting video on the site.  It’s a first hand overview of what it’s like to go through a lock in France.  It’s amazing just how narrow the locks are.  Many of the locks are only 14′ wide and Pandora,with her 12′ beam will fit with about one foot on each side.  I tried to find other videos that showed the countryside but didn’t find quite what I was looking for.  I’ll continue to explore to find some worth sharing.  For now…Brenda finds it amusing and sometimes alarming that when I get an idea into my head…I do it.  When the boys were young, they had all sorts of ideas and plans of things that they were going to do and Brenda’s approach was to just smile, nod and wait for them to forget and move onto something else.

Oops, that doesn’t seem to work with me.  Yes, my ideas evolve, often a lot.   However, when I get an idea in my head, more often than not, we end up doing it.  Yikes…

She says that I remind her of a ferret that we once had as a pet years ago named Ricki.  Well, when Ricki got something in his mind (and it was a small mind), it was impossible to change his direction.  You could pick him up and turn him around time after time and the same thing would happen…he’d just turn around and head to the same place, again, again and again.

Me?  I am sort of like Ricki.  I get an idea in my head…

I guess that’s why Pandora is named Pandora.  Brenda was very clear that when we acquired a boat that could cross oceans.  Well… I’d want to cross oceans.

So, now it’s up to me to come up with cruising ideas that include places that Brenda finds compelling.  Canal cruising in France?  Pretty compelling to a girl that loves the classics.  And, I am counting on that.

That’s all for now.   I guess I have more research to do.  Wish me luck.

6 responses to “Here’s another way to interest Brenda in sailing, uh…boating. I think.

  1. micheline hodge

    Hi Bob you don’t know me, but I know Brenda, the Lacemaker,
    and therefore I am curious as to how you will get the Pandora to Europe.
    I am assuming it will not be with Brenda on board. I enjoy your blogs, because they take me to places I have never been……..micheline

    • Micheline: I know who you are. Brenda speaks of you fondly. Yes, you are correct that Brenda would not do the crossing. I’d get crew through one of the clubs I belong to. It’s not too easy to get crew for such a long voyage but I am sure that I would find those willing to join me as Pandora is a great boat. Thanks so much for sending this note. Brenda and I will both continue with posts as we make our way through the Bahamas this winter.

      Take care.


  2. Ahoy Bob and Brenda!
    First, very sorry about your loss. your posting on it was excellent — thoughtful and moving. We were thinking about you and thank you for the thank you note.
    The problem with the canals is that the Saga 43’s mast is about 66-67 feet long, by my estimate of how far below the water line it is seated. So in addition to the inability to sail and consequential dependence on the auxiliary power system (Yanmar) with the mast strapped aboard horizontally on centerline, your 43 foot boat is now a 66-67 footer, with a different and unusual, for us, set of issues in terms of how to maneuver her. I love reading your blog.

    • Roger: It’s so great to hear from you. It made me feel better, some sort of therapy perhaps, to write about my Dad. He often reminded me that “everyone ends up in the same place” and putting “pen to paper” was somehow therapeutic for me. With regards to the mast issue in canals, I agree that the boat really becomes huge with the mast strapped on top. I found out that I can get it transported from the English Channel to the Med for less than $2,000. It’s a very appealing option. Can you imagine maneuvering into a slip with 10′ of mast over over both the bow and stern?

      Keep in touch.


  3. So sorry about your Dad. In thinking about your European cruise plans – there are a lot of countries to explore with rich textile histories. There are canals in Scotland and there is a lot of textile history there or in the Nordic Countries. I followed your trip south last time and based my spring vacation largely on your expertise in scouting out interesting locations. I’ll be interested to see where you go next to see if I have an overseas adventure in my future as well. 🙂

    • We head to FL as of this Sunday, two days from now. It’s been a wild ride since my Dad died so it’s probably good for us to have a change of scenery. At the very least, warm would be good.

      Take care and stay in touch.


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