Climbing onto Skookum on March 7 2019 I had such a feeling of being back home, it was palpable. The deck and the companion way, salon and galley are such familiar places to me after our seven year European Sojourn. Skookum has been our 300 sq ft (100 sq m) apartment with a permanent water view. She was now back in the water, tied to the end of H dock at the Valence port d’plaisance.
It was dark when I arrived after a long journey from the UK consisting of a taxi, two trains, a bus, a plane, a tramway and another train. Martin looked more exhausted than I felt as he had been working non-stop to get the boat ready to go back in the water. He said he was tired and ached from crouching under the boat painting and moving stuff around to have interior pictures taken for the brokerage website. Martin, being the super man he is, then cooked us a simple and tasty dinner that we ate between our meandering conversations. Martin smiled and said it was so nice to have someone to talk to and I felt glad he had missed me. I did the dishes!
The next day we both rested – although we found ourselves a storage locker and did some other bits of shopping. All seemed well except there was something or someone missing. It was Kerry – we both remarked on how odd it felt to be on Skookum without our dog. Kerry has been a constant travel company over the years we have been in Europe, but this trip we left her at home in the care of a dear friend and dog lover.
I had arrived in the UK in mid February after leaving Vancouver on a cold snowy Valentines Day. After a few days of catching up on the family and my sleep, Mum and I left again for Palma Mallorca in the Mediterranean. I didn’t think it would be warm but felt it would be a nice break for my mum who is always game for a holiday.
Hotel Son Sant Jordi Pollensca Mallorca
Mallorca is a lovely island , the largest of the Balearic Islands of the coast of Spain. It has a population of around a million. Traveling with a 91 year old is a lot of responsibility, which increased once I realized the hotel was not quite what I expected. The Hotel Son Sant Jordi was a lovely boutique hotel near the centre of a delightful historic city. We had a car for the week so I drove us somewhere every day. The north of the island is rugged almost jagged range of hills. The karst scenary is a physical barrier between the northern ports of lovely cities like Soller and the agricultural southern areas of the island that grow grapes, nuts, olives and lots of sheep and goats. Tourism is the biggest industry that booms from March to November, so we were a little off season. We toured the capital Palma on a hop-on hop-off bus (but we stayed on) and learned about the fourteenth century Balearic monarchs that ruled this part of the Mediterranean. We spent time on the south coast where we had stayed 30 years earlier. It was warm in the day and cool at night. My mum was a real trooper as this was a hard holiday for both of us – mobility issues were front and centre, but we made it and flew back to the UK after a week .
Lilian in Mallorca
Bascilica in Palma Mallorca
I arrived in France to the welcome sights of Martin’s smile and our boat in the water – all fixed. Skookum is a well maintained, well equipped, strong and right for the job (hence the name). She is a very comfortable live-aboard that gives you the freedom to go anywhere on inland waterways.
Back Cabin with a double bed, closet and air conditioner
Salon with two moveable chairs, coffee table, washing machine, television and fixed bench and steering station.
Dinette, galley and v berth/front bunk
Bathroom Back Deck
We have been to the major cities of Holland (Den Hague, Rotterdam and Amsterdam), Belgium (Brussels and Antwerp), Germany (Berlin, Cologne and Hamburg) and all over France including Paris, Strassbourg, and Lyon by boat and all documented in our blogs. This has been a remarkable journey for a retired Canadian couple and their dog in an old Dutch Steel Cruiser. We have had visitors, family and friends of all ages and stages of life that have added to the rich story we have lived over the last seven years.
We had a week to get her shipshape and equipped so anyone who bought her could just climb on board, do some grocery shopping and leave Valence with two thirds of a tank of diesel. Martin worked so hard getting the boat ready for the water and we decided we needed a little rest. We took a short trip to Marseilles as it was only a two hour drive. Marseilles had a reputation of being a seedy port town full of gunrunners and drug lords, but there is very little evidence of that now. The centre of town has been cleaned up filled with outdoor dining, a lovely small yacht port, surrounded by three fortresses and some beautiful churches.
Martin in Marseilles
We spent a couple days exploring then returned to Valence via Aix d Provence. This lovely small town happened to have a market on Tuesdays J, which allowed us to do a little shopping (limited only by the size of our suitcases. I will really miss French markets – especially those in historic towns, which are always colourful, full of bargains and delicious foods.
Enjoying the wind overlooking Marseilles
There are many other aspects of French life I will miss: – two hour lunches where everything is closed except the restaurants, fresh bread every morning, delicious local cheese everywhere, restored historic towns and cities demanding research on my part, very well dressed women out shopping, innovative buildings/architecture and hearing the French language despite not understanding it.
I will miss living in France and actually can’t quite believe that I will no longer be doing that after the Fall. If we don’t sell Skookum then we will move her to Burgundy, where there is access to a number of canals. Valence gives easy access to the Canal di Midi and the Mediterranean. If Skookum sells then our plan is to buy a Sprinter van in Europe spend time seeing those places not reachable by inland waterways and eventually ship the van back to Canada (Halifax) then drive across our amazing country.
I will miss Skookum – my second home on the water in Europe. However I am ready to give up her, as I feel we have had a brilliant experience, which cannot be improved upon. We have had the best of times on Skookum, but life is short (especially at our age) and it is time to move on to new pastures, roads and highways, with a smile of satisfaction and confidence that says ‘we did it!’.
She is listed with
No regrets, no hankering after something better, it could not be better. We just seized the opportunity to travel in the most interesting way. Carpe Diem is our motto. Now I would like to see Skookum go to good owners who will enjoy her as much as we have, and take to the waterways with the same sense of adventure and joy.