A bit of history
Currently we are berthed in the centre of Toulouse on our winter mooring at (Port St Sauveur) from September 2017 until mid June 2019. Port St Sauveur is very central and near the Jardin du Ronde, a beautiful 19th century garden and a short walk to the Palais de Justice tram station which connects to the airport *35 minutes running every 10 minutes.
In April 2016 we began our journey from UK when, after an extensive and expensive refit, Nulife crossed the Channel from Brighton to Calais Port overnight, ready to ply the French canals and rivers and with Bordeaux as our final destination.
Our first season took us to the Canal de Nivernais via Cambrai, Reims and Paris (where we enjoyed a 10 night stay at Port Arsenal in July 2016).
In 2017 we took our time through the river Yonne and on to Auxerre and the Canal du Nivernais into Burgundy and eventually headed south via Chalon Sur Saone to the Rhone after spending time in Lyon and further south to Avignon and on to the Camargue and the Etang de Thau, dipping our toes in the Med before heading along the Canal du Midi. By November we reached Toulouse, the Rose city, which lies astride the Canal du Midi and Canal de la Garonne. In our third season we finally make it to the Cite du Vin in Bordeaux through the tidal estuary of the Garonne river. A magnificent trip that has been a joy to experience.
In 2018 we slowly cruised the Garonne towards Bordeaux, having as our summer base the pretty town of Moissac, three days cruise north west of Toulouse, where we made excursions on the stunningly beautiful Garonne River.
In mid-September we brought the boat to its winter mooring at Port St Sauveur, Toulouse, where we are now spending our first full winter aboard, until mid June 2019 when we may head very slowly towards the Rhone towards Belgium. (Editor’s note we have enjoyed the South so much we have decided to delay until 2020 before heading to Belgium and Holland
Recent Maintenance Blog
Nulife is equipped with a Kubota derived 85 hp TDi Nanni diesel engine. This is both a well known and reliable French marque, used as standard kit in rental boat fleets all over France so spares and service are easily available ( in UK, through Peachment, Brundall, Norfolk Broads). Engine hours now stand at approx 1200 and has been carefully serviced with filters and oil changes strictly within the parameters of the manufacturer’s handbook. Both high output alternators have been checked, overhauled and adjusted in 2018 before the season started.
Nulife has a well designed electrical system, including a Mastervolt onboard generator with low hours (around 400). Generator has been serviced and is in excellent order.
She has both twin solar panels and a Rutland wind generator, making the boat highly self sufficient for extended cruising off grid without access to shore power. There is a 2500watt Mastervolt invertor and a Mastervolt fast charge battery charger system. The boat is protected by a galvanic isolator which was tested and verified by a qualified electrical engineer in 2016.
DOMESTIC – HEATING, PLUMBING, LIGHTING
Three sources of domestic hot water provide a choice to suit the situation whether on or off grid. The engine provides sufficient hot water in the insulated calorifier for 24 hours after cruising. Second option there is an electrical immersion element in the calorifier for use when on shore power. Finally there is a Eberspacher Hydronic diesel water heater (recently serviced) which has a feed into the calorifier, useful for off grid use when static. The generator can also be run to power the immersion heater if it is being used for other purposes like tumble drying or washing machine as the extra output required is negligible in terms of fuel use.
Boat heating is provided by a Webasto AirTop 5000. This was completely overhauled in 2016 and had relatively light use since. However, with our first full winter liveaboard and to be on the safe side we decided to have the heater completely refitted with new burner bowl, new glowplug and gaskets and benchtested so as to ensure trouble free operation through the winter. There is a webasto agency in Toulouse which has all the parts and diagnostic kit. We are very pleased with the system.
The system is run through a seven day programmable timer and comes on at times to suit, which is ideal for the slightly chillier winter mornings. Our other boat in UK has a wood burner and consequently I was very sceptical about the benefits of warm air heating, it actually works remarkably well and is controllable with the thermostat and the timer so I have revised my opinion and now appreciate the on demand trouble free operation that has kept the boat very cosy even in sub zero conditions! The air temperature output is in excess of 50 centigrade at the vents (on full power) and can be controlled effectively with thermostatic controls located in the bedroom area. Fuel consumption is typically half a litre an hour – not too bad, but probably per kilowatt slightly more expensive than the 17 cents per kw /h for shore power.
Typical operation in winter in Toulouse we programme to come on between 6am to – 9am on the automatic timer – this heats the boat thoroughly. The bathroom and shower are equipped with 500 watt heated towel rails also on a three hour auto timer so these areas are super toasty when one rises in the morning but running costs are economical.
We then leave the Meaco dehumidifier running which contributes a modest heat output of approx 0.5 kw/h – enough to keep the boat very comfortable until we go shopping or decide to cook lunch!
Conversely, in the south of France in August temperatures can out at less than comfortable conditions at times. Travelling the Garonne this season has been much better than the Midi where many trees have sadly had to sacrificed. The Garonne still benefits from stretches of dense tree overhang and plenty of shady spots to choose from once you are 15 km or more north east fro Toulouse (the early stretches have lots of industry and development near the canal). The boat is also equipped with a standalone Ciatronic Air Con unit which runs comfortably off the Mastervolt generator with power to spare, so is suitable for off grid use. When not in use (which is most of the time) it is stored in the capacious lockers or in our lockup.
The boat also has two dehumidifiers for use in winter. One of these is a state of the art Meaco DDL8 Zambezi, a fully programmable dessicant dehumidifier (which can be self draining as required). Of course condensation can be experienced in winter, however these two units and the magic plastic film double glazing make a huge difference in minimising the effects. The Zambezi in particular is set to come on at fixed times and monitors air temperature and humidity targets – so its possible to set and forget.
The loo is a Sani Marine electric with a 450 litre black water tank that can be pumped out or discharge through the underwater hull valve, as required. In 2018 the entire sanitary hose system was replaced with a new 38mm Vetus Sani hose as the original was more than 5 years old. A brand new Whale gulper pump was fitted to anticipate the replacement of the Jabsco macerator pump – overall a much better and more reliable solution.
In 2019 the LEDs throughout the boat were replaced with the latest spec 12 volt warm LED lamps (200 lumen / 20 watt G4s and the galley area is equipped with a 3 metre LED recessed adhesive strip light which provides discreet but super bright lighting for food preparation. There is nothing worse than dim boat lighting in mid winter and there is no danger of that in the present configuration!
In 2018 new deckboards in Phenolic ply have been fitted to both the stern and aft decks in 2018 including the front locker storage.
The existing tumble dryer unit is being replaced with a new Hotpoint 3kg compact unit located on the stern deck. More importantly a 43 litre wine cooler has been installed which relieves pressure on the fridge!
WORK PLAN FOR 2019
This is likely to include treating the boat to new stern ropes and fenders and some remedial painting of the forward deck and gunnels in high traffic areas. For our trip back up the Rhone we plan to install Navicarte.