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Old 23-11-2020, 09:53   #1
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Ideas for boat doing French Canals 1st, Med 2nd

Hi Fellow Travellers, I move around on an Aussie Passport (when not trapped in Covid Fortress Australia) and are transitioning to retirement.
I envisage that being spent on a yacht exploring the French Canals for a couple of years, and then 3 years coastal cruising the Med with occasional overnighter. So, a 5 year plan. Boat to be bought and sold in Europe.
Obviously I need a boat with a very shallow draft, and a rig easy to take down and put up, and somewhere around 28' - 35', as it will be liveaboard for 2 in 90 day stretches. So looking for things like enclosed toilet/shower,
I've experience sailing 30' trailer sailors, which fit the brief ....except for the 90 days comfort and decent Heads. I'll be sailing 1 1/2 handled
I would love some suggestions from our European/UK/Scandi base as to yachts that might think suitable and why?
Would also like to hear from sailors that have used the canals, and their experiences. I did watch Ruby Rose YTube thanks so know they sailed a 38' Southerly swing keel down the Midi.
Thank you
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Old 23-11-2020, 10:31   #2
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Re: Ideas for boat doing French Canals 1st, Med 2nd

Oceanis 31, any owners here? would something like this be on point?
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Old 23-11-2020, 10:42   #3
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Re: Ideas for boat doing French Canals 1st, Med 2nd

Since taking down the mast is a very important part of canal boating in Holland, look what you can find there. For other countries this is less significant.
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Old 23-11-2020, 11:33   #4
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Re: Ideas for boat doing French Canals 1st, Med 2nd

Doing any sailing (mast up) on the French canals will be quite difficult. Besides bridges, tree branches often overhang, and the canals are not very wide. Wind direction may not be helpful, and tacking up a channel is probably not allowed. Rather than carrying a mast around with you for two years, and having a centerboard impinging upon your comfort, it might be better to get a powerboat for the canals (Penichettes are set up for this:https://www.locaboat.com/bateau-et-p...ttes-a-vendre/) and then get a sailboat for the Med later.
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Old 23-11-2020, 11:40   #5
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Re: Ideas for boat doing French Canals 1st, Med 2nd

Obviously sailing the canals is all about the draft.
Fresh water means about 3% less buoyancy.

You don't state a budget OP, or whether you buy second hand or new.
Assume you don't wish to move about the boat on your knees like most trailer sailors.

The Beneteau Oceanis 31 with either of the two swing keel designs or the shallow draft option would be a very comfortable boat. I think Ovnis are much better but then I am just a poor boy from a poor family so can only covet others.

Some European designs that have keels for shallow draft:
Weterleys designed by Laurie Giles
Reinkes by Kurt Reinke
Ovnis too but as said usually relatively expensive.

Not everyone carries their rig. Some ship separately or just buy a new rig at the end and so factor that in to the cost of the trip. Certainly makes travelling far more congenial.

I think whatever you choose though must be capable of repeatedly touching bottom as they silt up. You'll, I presume, wish to explore and so use alternate routes to Canal du Mici and Canal de Garonne occasionally.

And so no matter how flash the boat, some canals are full of weed and all you can do is push the boat with poles or walk along the bank pulling, plus of course periodically jumping in to clear weed. Not quite The African Queen but can be very tiring.

OP perhaps it would help to put a little meat in that question sandwiche then you'll receive better replies I don't doubt.

Really keen to hear more about your project.
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Old 23-11-2020, 11:47   #6
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Re: Ideas for boat doing French Canals 1st, Med 2nd

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Oceanis 31, any owners here? would something like this be on point?
Absolutely not. This link shows depths and air clearance for the French canals:
https://www.pnich.com/cartvoinavi.htm

Most of the canals have published depths of 1.4 m. Some have more, some less. Silting and drought makes even the published depths optimistic. The Oceanis 30 draws 1.8m A centerboard sailboat might be possible, but having the mast with you, walling one side of the deck off from the other, will make handling docklines difficult, if not hazardous. And locks require frequent docking maneuvers.
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Old 24-11-2020, 02:48   #7
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Re: Ideas for boat doing French Canals 1st, Med 2nd

OK, Thanks for responses so far.
In terms of budget I am comfortable around 50-75k Euro purchase price, with some set aside for the usual repair or upgrade.
I had not considered the option of buying a "canal boat" as I assumed, maybe incorrectly, that there would be some coastal hops required to get between river/canal systems in Europe.
I thought the Oceanis 31 was available with lifting keel, but I will be sure to look at all the recommendations made here.
Schengen Europe is only available to me for 90 days at a time each 180, unless I apply for residency during this 5 year period. I am more likely to have a landbase in Montenegro than France, but as the next 12 months pass plans will firm up.
As I stated this is a 5 year plan which will involve the sale of the boat and a return to the Southern Hemisphere.
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Old 24-11-2020, 06:38   #8
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Re: Ideas for boat doing French Canals 1st, Med 2nd

Look into some of the older small catamarans (Catalacs, Prouts, etc...) The only place you can't get to is the narrow canals in the UK (you can do the broad canals in the UK).

These are mostly in the 28-35ft range with a beam of 14-16ft. The masts tend to be short and deck stepped making them easy to pull and carry. Depending on the specific model, drafts can range from 0.5-1.4m making them much more canal friendly.

They will handle the coastal work just fine but getting back to Montenegro every 90 days with the boat would be challenging (though there are other countries to get out of the Shengen).

Yes, you can find them in your price range.
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Old 24-11-2020, 07:12   #9
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Re: Ideas for boat doing French Canals 1st, Med 2nd

I would take a different approach, buy a canal boat for the first few years and then change to a sailboat for later cruising. This avoids having to make compromises for both uses.
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Old 24-11-2020, 07:25   #10
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Re: Ideas for boat doing French Canals 1st, Med 2nd

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I would take a different approach, buy a canal boat for the first few years and then change to a sailboat for later cruising. This avoids having to make compromises for both uses.
Absolutely, there is no way I would choose a yacht for this. Instead a nice piece of Dutch steel motor cruiser which is designed for the canals will be a much nicer boat to live on. You are going to bash into stone locks and bridges. Not a case of if, but when, so steel is the material of choice.

Can also do coastal cruising and many cross the channel to England in calm conditions which gives you the chance to escape from the EU for a few months to re-set the clock.

Something like this maybe but there are thousands of different models to choose from. The Dutch also have a good reputation for building in steel.

https://motorboats.apolloduck.co.uk/...rs-1100/643757

something a bit cheaper perhaps?

https://motorboats.apolloduck.co.uk/boat/pedro/577708

Something to drool over, but you'll need to wear a beret and red neckerchief to own one

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Old 24-11-2020, 11:08   #11
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Re: Ideas for boat doing French Canals 1st, Med 2nd

I've cruised a bit in both Holland and France on the canals. (Though I would hardly call be experienced in that region). My vote would be to look at a Dutch built boat, they are masters at steel and there are a number of brokers over there that can set you on the right track. Some of the French boats look more like travel trailers, they work and are comfortable but does nothing for the heart strings. The Dutch boats, on the other hand look and handle like boats. Holland is a very nautical nation and has a strong marine industry, excellent craftsmen, and very boat friendly canal communities.
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Old 24-11-2020, 11:17   #12
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Re: Ideas for boat doing French Canals 1st, Med 2nd

I have plans similar to yours. Live in the UK and plan to travel through the French canals to the Med. I recently bought a Colvic watson motor sailer. Draught is under 1.5m. I plan to unstep the mast in Calais and send it overland to the south of France.
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Old 24-11-2020, 11:45   #13
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Re: Ideas for boat doing French Canals 1st, Med 2nd

A swing/lift keel boat will be best for the canals. I imagine that will also be ok in the Med where the seas can be quite short and steep. You need to explore that more. I wouldn't want to do the Med in a Dutch Barge, though I expect some have.

Of the French swing keel GRP boats, Feeling did more models with drop keels than Jeanneau and Beneteau and whilst they sell very quickly, you may be able to pick up a 30 something foot Feeling for $50k - $75k.

Aluminium swing-keel boats like Ovnis and Alubats are out of your price range. I suspect some of the older Southerlys may fall within that price bracket. The newer ones will require a lot more $$.

You could do the canals in a fin keel boat, but you need to look for shallow draft. 1.5m or less. Beneteau and Jeanneau etc all did them.

Iíve not done the canals myself but am researching it for the future. I have read that you will definitely need to take the mast down. Your options are to carry it with you or to ship it ahead by road to a Mediterranean destination Ė more expensive but less clutter on deck.
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Old 24-11-2020, 12:31   #14
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Re: Ideas for boat doing French Canals 1st, Med 2nd

Go over there and rent a boat first. Try out different ideas, all are compromises.

Sailboats on canals - The Dutch do it well check out https://www.heechbydemar.com/

Traditional Dutch sailboats have masts that you can strike in a heartbeat. I've seen them racing where they come up to a bridge, douse the sails and drop the mast, coast under the bridge and have everything up in a heartbeat. Their leeboards make more sense than centerboards, they are simple, don't compromise hull strength like a centerboard and the space is usable inside. They also are more efficient in shallow water as they work from the waterline down rather than just from the bottom of the boat. They are asymmetric and are designed to give more lift.

Steel is also excellent, it give you a higher degree of impact resistance. There are a lot of things that can hit you and objects to hit. Some of the rivers can be very challenging.

This is a just a starting point. The French have some really cool designs too.

- Rich
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Old 24-11-2020, 13:04   #15
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Re: Ideas for boat doing French Canals 1st, Med 2nd

Steel is the worst thing for inland. Imagine it like scraping your car. Massive repaint etc.

Grp is best , buff out the few scratches

Ps boated inland for some time. You donít scrape hulls there ether. My grp was pristine
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