French Customs, Foot and Mouth and all that



Firstly, thank you for your e-mails about certification for France, canals etc and for the appreciation of the PBO Liveaboards Diary discussing budget for longer term cruising. It seems that there are plenty of us planning a protracted escape to the ‘good life aboard’ asap, but we are already starting the planning.

The next LA Diary (May issue about 17-04-01) continues the theme, but about equipment. If you are sure of your LA plans, you may as well try to buy some of the bigger items in advance of the financially hectic period immediately prior to taking off – to say nothing of getting use out of it now – eg anchor windlass.

If anybody has any observations or questions, please by-pass our unworkable forum ( Improvement is still promised) and use the e-mail address below. We will then post the replies en masse in this space.

By the time the next PBO reaches the shelves, we should be somewhere en route to the canal du Midi??.. if we are allowed to enter France.

There have been a number of very scary stories about UK yachts being given a hard time by Fr Customs anxious about ‘la fievre aphteuse.’ One anxious skipper told me that he had heard, from somebody, who had heard from the cousin of somebody else, who works in a boatyard, that one yacht had been stripped of all foodstuff – including tins, sugar, jams, rice and teabags.

Today, I have had two long conversations with the Fr customs people at Cherbourg and at Camaret, where the Good Lady Officer i/c told me when talking about tins, pre-packed supermarket Cheddar etc “Nous? On vive et on mange comme d’habitude et on n’est pas encore mort. Si vous soyez prudent, comme toujours, vous n’auriez aucun probleme.’

The consensus of both conversations is that nothing much has changed, but be sensible. All tinned food is fine, but if tinned meat is labelled as being ‘Produce of Dodgy Country’, leave it at home – together with open ham, pate, raw meat, home cooked meat and sausages. Pasteurised milk and other pasteurised products are OK. Rice, sugar, spices, spaghetti etc – no problem.

That, plus the news that the franc is hovering around 10 and the PO will change cash with no commission, is creating a bit of optimism to counteract this dreadful weather which is hampering all our boat preparations. Luckily, the Colvic Watson’s wheelhouse gives plenty of protection, so we have been able to sort out our problematic conversion to hydraulic steering ( of which more anon) and get work done on alternator and injectors.

How much should an engineer charge?

Meanwhile, I am having great fun with C-Map PC Planner, creating all my routes ready for the Chelan due Four and the S. Brittany islands down to Bordeaux. By saving them on a User cartridge, which also copies lists of courses and distances ready for printing) I can take them to the boat and up-load them into the chart plotter and the gps.

As a pastime, it sure beats hell out o Coronation Street and the Footy and will let us give some definitive answers to the FAQ “How long does it take?”

Colin and Rita Jones Lyme Regis 28th March 2001