We’re about to take off for Australia leaving Endellion here at the Port de l’Arsenal in Paris in the good hands of Alex our mechanic. The reason we are leaving her in this way (in Paris) is we effectively have no engine!
The original Yanma engine was removed and a new Steyr is the replacement.
The day the Yanma was lifted out of our small engine hold was quite an event, it was all very manual and laborious, but it worked. A sequence of hoists, pulleys and a considerable amount of scratching of heads got the engine out and onto the stern deck. At that point it was decided that the smallish car and the brute strength of the three workers wasn’t going to be enough to get it any further .. so off set Alex for a proper portable crane and trailer and so finally our engine was safely stowed and driven away for storage whilst we try to sell it. A great bargain for someone needing a 70 horse-power, Yanma engine marinised by Barrus, only four years old with just over 1,000 hours on the clock. It comes complete with two alternators, control panel and full silencer kit ready to fit!
The Steyr has arrived but won’t be fully fitted until some time after we are back in Australia. This was also an interesting experience for us. It arrived in the back of a big Hertz van with three wiry-looking removalist-types .. our engine was right at the back and therefore they first had to offload most of the contents of their truck to get to it and then reload everything once our engine was placed beside our boat.
Alex arrived to rip off all the packaging, a bit like a child opening presents on his birthday, and stared intensely at it. Small for its 144 horse power, incredibly neat and tidy-looking (to me, a non-mechanic).. but Alex, like Stewart, was particularly interested in its overall dimensions. Will it fit into the engine hold .. it was always going to be extremely tight. Many times he measured a section then ducked into the engine hold with tape measure and then back out for another piece of measurement. “I think so” .. was his conclusion.
At this point he noticed that the diameter of the exhaust, for which he had ordered all the parts, was completely wrong. Instead of the 50mm promised by the supplier, it was 90mm. The good thing about Alex is his very positive approach to everything, “I have another kit we can swap it, there’s a solution for everything”. This is a good thing (his approach) as later that day we found the engine only just fitted inside and will need a little bit of creative tweaking to have it perfect. We are leaving Alex to make the first test run without us as the boat needs to move out of Paris by the end of April where we will join her in early June for our own sea tests. Very exciting!
The month of March has flown by and we seem to have done little with our time. Mostly we have been involved in planning our return to Australia and sorting out our engine which was hugely time-consuming and frustrating. Stewart has spent many hours scouring through websites and forums, investigating engine options (extremely few), gear box ratios, alternators and their associated regulators, solar panels and their regulators, and so on. Meanwhile I’ve been scraping off paint and then reapplying it, getting rid of the rust underneath.. a tiring but satisfying job when I go into the engine hold and chain locker which are now ‘like new’, for the first time!
A few exciting distractions came along, of course, starting with brother Jonney and sister-in-law Felicity who came across the channel via EuroStar rail lugging our new gas heater with them (as mentioned in our last blog).
Yes, it arrived safely. Jonney towed it on a small trolley which we supplied for the purpose and all went well except for the strange looks he received along the way. However, he said it was a big challenge in the places where he had to wheel it across cobbles, and up and down steps! Something Stewart is very familiar with in his wheelchair .. the cobbles that is.
We had a wonderful encounter with a local Parisian who drove up beside Stewart, as we were having a coffee, on her scooter and introduced herself. This was Anik who, it turned out, is also a person with MS. After small chats about ramps and the like she asked if we’d come to an evening’s promenade followed by dinner at a Corsican restaurant nearby. Yes of course we’d like to and so on Wednesday evening we set off for the promenade which was a delight especially as the lift (rather unreliable as I’d only ever seen it closed off before) was working that evening and so we could enter the Promenade Plantee not far from our boat and potter along together for a kilometre or more.
This tree-lined walkway is almost five kilometres in total along an old railway line viaduct. Underneath are some of the most interesting shops in Paris for their exquisite and unique products but also because most of them are also workshops where you see the porcelain painters, or restorers (for example) working away as if no-one was staring entranced with their workmanship.
After our walk we grew to a group of 17 wheelchair and scooter users, with a few partners along for the fun of it, all set around a row of tables in little Corsica. The restaurant’s interior was like a theatre set based on the island of Corsica, they give lectures here on the island’s culture, sell books and CDs and obviously just live Corsica in Paris.
Margrit and Miriam joined us from Switzerland, just across the border. Margrit is a dear family friend who came to my (Lesley’s) family as a nanny back in 1963 and stayed on and off for many years especially when my little sister (12 years younger than me) came along, so to speak. At that time our parents were running a hotel in Cornwall and so life was a bit like living in a camping site for the busy part of the year and Margrit was our solid rock throughout. She seemed to be always there for us (five kids!) and things haven’t really changed, she is always interested in what we are up to. As Stewart said, it reminded him of his family’s relationship with the Rothpletz family, who also, by coincidence, are originally Swiss. Stewart’s father ran their grandparents farm in the New England Highlands of New South Wales before the second world war. Stewart is godfather to two Rothpletz young women cousins who we both adore.
The last time we saw Margrit’s daughter Miriam was more than ten years ago when she visited us in Australia. She’s now the busy owner of a classic kitchen design business near Zürich. We’re hoping before too long we can make a visit by boat to Basle where we will be very close to the Deringer family. We might even get to see the elusive Alex (Margrit’s husband) .. especially since he is promising he will retire very soon.
And just wandering around this city is a joy, for example, our little sojourn to find foam filling for two cushions for two bench seats we have. Seems such a mundane thing to enjoy but it was the adventure of walking along this Bastille region of Paris where there are so many extraordinary shops including this one called Leobert in Charonne Street (no. 75). It’s an intriguing place with a big yard from the street with foam of every type stacked in piles, almost surrounding a big ‘shed’ inside which there were several desks and various pieces of electronic office equipment aging from the past many decades. They also sell curtain rails which were stacked up all around the walls and seemed to do furniture refurbishment noting a few frames of seats being bandied around. An interesting place and as it turned out the perfect providers of the foam we needed.
They were total professionals in this odd little shed-like environment.
Unlike, unfortunately for us, the fabric shop, Citeaux Muarl, not far away who we briefed to make bungs for our escape hatches. These are usually made for narrow boats to fill the portholes inside the glass which of course are round. But square ones are also used, they are covered foam and block out light, draughts and in our case moisture from condensation during winter months. Our problem, other than their overall unprofessionalism, is they made two of the bungs the wrong thickness so they now protrude from the hatch .. another job to repair at some stage.
Our neighbour boats are starting to depart the harbour for travels far and wide, some setting off the Black Sea along the Danube, others heading south for the Mediterranean, and a few, as we will be, heading north to the Netherlands. We’re very excited about our time in Australia, only less than a day away now, but what awaits us on our return here will be very different. Endellion will be like a new boat with her Steyr engine, twice the power of the old one.. that will be interesting! On our return in early June we hope to install solar panels which will mean we can power our air conditioning unit without electric shore power or the generator running – making us independent of electric being available, nice and quiet (no generator noise) and… more environmentally friendly!
We send our love to family and friends and will be there in person hugging many of the southern hemisphere ones any day now!
Published whilst online at Heathrow airport .. almost back in Australia!