Prologue: getting to know
After one of us had his boating license, the dream of owning a boat became stronger and stronger. In some places it is possible to rent a boat spontaneously, but in Rhineland-Palatinate this is rather rare. We also wanted our own boat, which we could set up according to our wishes and get used to it.
Then we visited for the first time the fair "boot" in Dusseldorf: as a layman you can get advice here, collect heaps of information, be impressed and above all define your own priorities.
- It should be a new boat: you put this object together according to your preferences and financial possibilities and one is responsible for the care condition.
- It should be a small cabin cruiser with a bed in class C and WC.
- It should be trailerable.
We got an offer at three stands. At the first stand we encountered arrogance and at the second a jumble of information. Then we met a seller at the stand of Öchsner boats who simply presented the boat and gave us as laymen understandable information.
In addition, the model "20 -Yachtline-" has the special wide-beam hull, which makes it possible to use the space more generously: a separate room with optional WC. And the boat looks sporty.
After a week's reflection, the decision was made and we bought the boat with trailer. This was followed by some formalities: radio registration, trailer registration and the knowledge that the driver's license BE must also be made up for in the foreseeable future.
And then came the big day: the uncle drove us to Bavaria to pick up the boat. Exciting, because we were shown the slipping, allowed us a little introductory tour on the Main and gave us many, very valuable explanations.
After we had the boat in Trier harbor at our mooring, we collected the very first experiences: mooring, setting off, driving a lock, anchoring. The water was warm and swimming pleasant ... only anchoring in the Saar was actually prohibited.
The highlight of getting acquainted was certainly the first ride through a professional lock. Unfortunately, the sports lock in Stadtbredimus / Luxembourg was broken and we had the choice to go home or to clear this hurdle. After a hesitation it worked well and the lock was easy.
The 1st year: the three-country trip
Now the first journey lied ahead: we had decided to travel from our modern harbor in Schweich (near Trier) to France.
So in September it was time. We informed the harbor for the days and we started. We drove through the Trier sports lock to Luxembourg.
First we paid a small visit to the town of Remich. For the Grand Duchy it is a stronghold of tourism, not least because it lies completely on the Moselle and leads along the pretty promenade "Esplanade". A redevelopment plan due to the flood protection and the expansion of the jetty for sport boats will surely beautify the picture in the next years.
In a strikingly white and architecturally sophisticated building on the Moselle you can buy local products. Whether wine, Luxembourg gin or pasta ... the choice is versatile The town center is characterized by small Mediterranean lanes. There are shops and a supermarket. While strolling, we then passed the proud town hall and after a crêpe the journey finally continued.
The well maintained Schwebsange harbor accommodated some great yachts and a restaurant with great views, that invited to linger. Here we also discovered the first baguette machine and the next breakfast was guaranteed.
We crossed the border to the first big hurdle: a big lock in France. It was quiet and hardly anyone on the move. After a short wait we could get in. At the next lock we informed them much earlier and they even waited for us. Great.
At 17:15 o'clock we arrived in Bässe-Ham in the new harbor "Nautik'Ham". After registration in the "Capitainerie", where we had been welcomed very friendly, we took the taxi to Thionville in a large shopping center for shopping. Then we returned to the cabin to read and sleep.
A new day was approaching and after breakfast at the cockpit area we drove off towards the city of Metz. Four locks were ahead of us. Sometimes we had to wait at the professional locks, but some locks had a second chamber, larger than a sports lock in Rhineland-Palatinate. You have to register for this, but it's faster.
After the last lock in Metz we had missed the turn to the harbor. Therefore, we arrived later than planned at the port of Metz, which is located in the town center. We discovered the town, met our aunt and spontaneously stayed in a hotel with pool and room service.
On Thursday we went back to Bässe-Ham. Since we needed less time this time, we went for a walk in the late afternoon and have treated ourselves in the evening on the boat beef carpacchio.
After a cool boat night, we turned on the heating in the morning. The feeling is wonderful to lie on the water on a very quiet jetty surrounded only by reeds, coots and swans.
We enjoyed our breakfast and struck off home around 9 o'clock.
We already knew the locks. We routinely passed both the professional job locks in France and the practical sports locks. In the afternoon we went back to our home port.
Epilogue to the 1st year: to the reader
As a layman you should definitely take a few days and make a boating vacation. We got to know our boat better and are now a well-experienced team. We learned to lock, recognized and mastered some difficulties and meticulously entered the journey in our logbook.
You get a completely different feeling for time. For example, while driving from Schweich to Metz in about 1 hour by car, you can travel a lot longer by boat.
The locks should be learned, but it's quite easy. But practice makes perfect and it is best to practice in pairs and with linen (best 10m lines). And there is a difference between large and small locks. We registered each time two kilometers before by radio. With several commercial ships in the lock you should hold on well, because when these ships step on the gas, they generate a strong current. This is much easier with the sport locks, but they are narrower.
It should also be mentioned that in France it is mandatory to wear lifejackets. And while waiting in front of the locks, most people have the opportunity to get stuck.
About refueling you should know the following:
- Where to refuel (attention: opening hours)
- What to refuel (petrol or diesel)
- How to pay (some do not take a V-Pay card but only cash)
Incidentally, the general signage in France is sometimes not so clear either. A high quality binoculars was very useful to us. And you can buy the toll "vignette" on the page vnf.fr, print it immediately and stick it to the boat window. We paid for the week 39,20€.
One thing is certain: next year it will go to the sea. And the second year report will follow.
Our warmest thanks to the whole team of Öchsner boats!
Yves & Jochen