Abemama now has just one more day of canalling before moving out in to The Med and is currently moored at the top of the famous flight of 7 locks at Beziers.

Broken ribs, it seems, take a long time to mend and there is no cure other than rest. Our enforced 3 weeks in one place leaves us short of time if we are to take the boat back to Lyme Regis for the Winter. We shall research the cost and convenience of leaving her down here, but that also has many inconveniences – and hidden costs, so it will be a last resort.

Over the 3 weeks convalescence, we have met a number of others with the same ‘canal induced’ malady. One lady slipped whilst hauling on a line and a German guy, trying to balance baguettes on his bike, did the same. We also talked to another lady who had fallen 6ft off the lock onto the boat. The canals are very gentle, but need as much care as all other forms of cruising.

It has been interesting to note how far and wide PBO readership stretches in both people and geography. We have been accosted by a French naval officer who is a subscriber, several canal transit crews, a number of readers have been on hire boats and one gent from a ‘1500 per person per week hotel barge. The have all been very complimentary about the way in which PBO keeps its feet on the ground, but is also a ‘good read.’ They have been full of questions about how a couple can manage in terms of finance, handling the boat and being on board for 6 continuous months.

We also spent a happy hour with 2 Australian regular readers (owners of a Fisher 31 in Oz) who were very surprised to find a PBO boat moored ahead of them. They also told us what I think is the ultimate commercial meanness.

They had paid ‘2,000 for a 2 week hire of a boat with 1000l litres fresh water tankage. As they left, the operator warned them that ‘ You will need water tomorrow.’ When queried, he admitted that the company now has so many boats to fill up on changeover days (all water in France is charged by volume) that they only put in about 100 litres – in spite of the hire fee. This throws the cost of water on other communities along the canal, so it is not surprising that many of them now charge for water and prohibit the washing of boats. Additionally, many hire boats are now much bigger than when we first started doing this trip. They are jamming up in locks and there is much more pressure on mooring places, so lots of grumbling especially when overnight berths are now also charged. There are rumours of 50 more boats coming from one company alone . all pumping out into the canal.

Fortunately, even though the canals are very close to boat saturation, they are still a marvellous experience. Boats with a draught of 1.50m still get through. The trick is to know where to fine deep water quays and which locks have ladders inside and so on. Perhaps we should do a detailed practical guide.

All our visitors have been website followers and curious about on board communications, so it is timely that the next two PBO Liveaboards Diaries are about computers, mobile phones and so on. What you are reading here – like the articles and photographs – has been composed and transmitted on the Toshiba, Nokia, Olympus equipment as described.

Electronics have give many of us our liberty and a better lifestyle.