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Old 30-07-2013, 12:37   #1
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French canals. Le Harve to med

Any advice from cruisers who have taken this route? Places to unstep mast in Rouen? Must have cruising guides? Places to stop, water, fuel? I have 32 foot boat with 4.8 foot draft. Any shallow sections? As an American I don't need cert of competency right? Any paper work I do need? Just looking to hear and talk with people who have done this cruise.

Thanks fair winds

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Old 30-07-2013, 13:53   #2
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Re: French canals. Le Harve to med

I inadvertently posted the following on an old thread, don't know if you saw it there, so ...

You may find the answers to some of your questions at the French website for the inland waterways at: Voies navigables de France

Also the UK Cruising Association website had lots of information on the cruising the canals back in 2003 when I was planning such a trip. It appears now you have to join the CA to access that information (not a bad idea). Also they have a cruising guide for sale on the website.

I abandoned my plans for the trip in 2005 when the control depth of the canals got too close to the draft of my boat, 1.6m (5.25'). You need up-to-date info. The depth in the spring is generally greater than that in the summer months.


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Old 30-07-2013, 15:07   #3
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Re: French canals. Le Harve to med

I have never done the canals in France but I lived in France and sailed out of Le Havre for several years so I thought I would make a couple comments.

First, don't miss Honfleur at the beginning of the trip up the Seine. It is a beautiful little town and you can pull into the central bassin which is literally in the center of town and it is really a great place to visit. Also, I believe that you can also have your mast taken down in Honfleur or in Le Havre itself if you wanted to do that before getting to Rouen.

As for details about the canals, you might try posting on the Yachting and Boating World forums ( There are more British people over there who have done the canals who might have a bit more first hand experience.

As for an (international) certificate of competence (ICC), this is a strange issue. Officially (and in the case that you don't enter the canals), I think you are required to have one but since it must be given by your home country and no one in the US issues them, there is no way to get one-I tried to get one through the RYA but it was impossible since I am not a british citizen or resident. I never had one, chartered boats in France, owned a boat in France, sailed in France and UK and was never asked to show one.

BUT, since you are entering the canals, I believe (though I could be mistaken) that you are required to have a canal permit (CEVNI), regardless of your nationality. The chance that you would be asked to show it is pretty high since you have to register (and pay fees) for using the canal systems. The French are generally very picky about whether you have the right papers or not and if it is on their list to check it, they will (at least in this case where you would have a hard time getting around the rules by flirting, offering gifts, telling the right sob story, which can all work from time to time with the French.) Hopefully, someone else can give more information on how to get one of these as a US citizen.

This website has a lot of information but is kind of geared toward UK citizens:
Canal Routes to Med

In any case, have a great trip and enjoy your voyage through France, it really is a beautiful country with very nice people and wonderful food and wine!
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Old 30-07-2013, 18:49   #4
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Re: French canals. Le Harve to med

We are planning a similar trip:

I belive you need a certiciate of competance regardless including the CEVNI test. I've come across a couple of blogs were Americans were stopped for not having it and not allowed to proceed until they got it (with a fair degree of complication and cost since the only local testing was in french).

The RYA does have an exception to issue it for American and Canadians. Thier website has details.

The VNF does have a canal fee (differs based on boat size and length of time you want to be in the system).
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