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Melissa & Dave - Adventures at Sea

Bumper boats

We have found that they will rent the boats on the canal to anyone, regardless of boating experience.  We “knew” this before we left, but the import of it did not become clear till today.  There were two old couples on one boat that clearly had no clue what they were doing.  We were following them from lock to lock today.  At one lock we had to wait, so they tried to dock on the side of the canal.  One of the gentlemen was on the shore tugging on the bow line.  He had it wrapped around a tree, while the other gentleman was driving the boat and trying to get the stern in.  The old guy on the shore was being dragged up and down the grassy slope.  The poor guy had no chance against a 50 horse power engine!  Dave and I just giggled and watched.  That is till the next lock where they managed to reverse full speed into our boat in the lock.  Yikes!  They might hurt someone!  So at the next lock where we had time to wait, I wandered over and asked, “Parlez-Vous Anglais?”  Yes, indeed, the captain (if you could call him that) did speak English.  I asked if he would like some advice?  “Yes!” was his reply.  Ok, I explained, put your stern in first – always!  Then use your bow thruster to put the bow wherever you want it.  Trust me that is way better than trying the reverse.  If you are pulling on the bow line, your stern will never come in.  At the next lock, they had big smiles while Dave and I both gave them the universal “OK” sign as they came into the lock perfectly!  Note to self:  Decision to pay for the damage waiver on top of the insurance (€100 and anything that happens is covered) was wise on the canal.  We had debated this because normally we don’t pay for the waiver.  We buy insurance, but not the waiver that covers the $1500 deductible.  This is because we are willing to bet that it is unlikely Dave “Mr. I can drive anything on the water, land or air DeLong” won’t cause any damage.  We buy the insurance because we aren’t stupid, but don’t usually “pre-purchase” the deductible.  But in this case we were sufficiently paranoid in a foreign country that we bought it after some debate.  If we do it again, we will buy the waiver because it isn’t Dave that will be the problem.  It’s the other non-experienced boaters that will cause a problem!)

We ended up in Trébes that night.  Since Dave had taken a second shot at repairing his tire (two more patches) and it still wasn’t holding air, he decided a new inner-tube and tire (was way too thin – the reason for all the holes in the first place) were in order.  We walked 6 miles looking for a tire, inner-tube, and wrench.  First we walked to one side of town and found the landscape shop.   We were hoping for a hardware store, but alas… Found a woman who spoke a (very) few words of English.  I managed to remember the word for bike (vélo).  She told us the road to Carcassone had a bike shop and that it was 2 kilometers away.

After a 2 kilometer walk, sure enough, there was the bike shop!  The guy there spoke not a word of English.  So we used the French/English dictionary Dave had loaded on his cell phone to communicate.  We managed to buy the right inner-tube, bike tire, and another patch kit.  He didn’t have the right wrench we needed though.  Great case for why mechanical translators don’t work right yet.  We tried translating “wrench” to French and got “torque”.  I suspect the verb rather than the noun translation.

So we walked back again to the other side of town to the Supermarket to look for the wrench.  No luck, but ironically they also have bike tires.  Sigh.  We managed to also buy a blender for our 20/20 diet shakes that fits the European electrical connection.  And Dave found a wrench he figured he could make due with.

Back on the boat, Dave goes to open the package containing the wrench with a knife.  You see what’s coming here… he slices his thumb wide open.  Ouch.  Dang it!  I ask multiple times, “Does it need stiches?”  To which Dave answers, “Maybe”.  Translation for anyone not yet married: “yes, probably, but I don’t want to admit it”.  And, no, he never did get stiches, and will have only a small scar.  Dave always figures he needs a Martini not stiches.  Sigh.

In the water that night were some very odd creatures.  We never did find out what they were called, but there were tons of them all over the place!


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