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Saturday, February 27, 2010

Boating Europe's Canals and Rivers

One of the reasons we bought Ariel, our Gemini 3200, is her size. We talked long and hard about the right size boat for us. We wanted her big enough for us to be comfortable for years at a time, but small enough to allow us to navigate tight waterways, such as those that comprise Europe.

Our plan is to sail from East to West, leaving from the East Coast of the USA. This places Europe in the final leg of our round the world odyssey. At a high-level, our plan is to spend at least 2 years wandering the canals of Europe once we finally arrive.

Europe has a fantastic network of waterways. The canals, originally built for goods transport, are now a highway of opportunity for tourists. They make the innards of Europe easily accessible, if one has the right sized boat.

Ariel's draft is a mere 18 inches, and her beam 14 feet. This beam figure is about a foot or 2 short of the maximum you would want for traversing the canals. Our mast will have to be stepped of course, so down it will go. We will most likely carry the mast with us, versus shipping it to a known end destination.

Many of the canals have captain operated manual locks ... that is, we will have to get off the boat, and work the locks ourselves. That is an exciting proposition!

The pace on the canals is around 4 knots .... a nice leisurely pace, one to take in Europe's offerings. Germany, Holland, France, Sweden, Spain, and more are all at our boats disposal.

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