My Travel Blog

O Captain – My Captain! But Where is our Captain?

Kevin just dropped a bomb.  He gave us two weeks notice, and then he is leaving…  We are both sad, and at the same time very upset.  Kevin has a new wife and six month old baby.  While his wife speaks perfect French she is still an immigrant from Senegal living in a small village of 60.  We can imagine it must be very difficult for her.  She told Kevin that she needs him at home to help her raise the baby, and can’t have him driving barges all over France.  Kevin said he did not want to leave, as we were the best people he had ever worked for, but that his family must come first.  Now we have to find a new captain. We’ve put out the word, and will see what happens. Kevin will also contact the people he knows.

Kevin driving Rabelo down the Seine.

Rabelo pulling into a lock next to a 200-ft. barge.

Schmutz is German for dirt or dirty, but I have no idea what this 350-ft. barge is for.

This 350-ft., 4,000-ton barge is pulling into the lock right behind us. I hope he has good brakes.

We’re still reeling from the news that we will be losing Kevin. If we can’t find a replacement then Lisa and I will have to operate Rabelo on our own. There are so many details racing through my head right now.  Just the thought of running our big baby without help is so daunting, and yet there is no reason why we can’t.  Driving Rabelo is certainly not a problem. While my French is still quite rudimentary it should be good enough to get us what we need.  After a life of boating my mechanical skills are not bad.  Our weakest link is probably Lisa’s ability to handle the lines.  It’s not that she doesn’t know how.  It’s just that she is out of practice, and doesn’t have the strength that Kevin or I have. I’ll have to do a little better job driving, and remember that my new deckhand is still learning.

The weather has not been the greatest, but we need to get going. For the next couple of weeks Lisa is going to get plenty of practice handling lines.  Kevin will show her some of the tricks she will need to moor a 200-ton vessel.

We’re in Paris at the intersection of the Seine and Marne rivers. This monster restaurant is billed as the largest Chinese restaurant in the world.

The lawn needs mowing in front of our mooring in Meaux.

Some of the security at the open market in Meaux.

I step in front of the steering station and plant my feet firmly.  It’s been six months since I’ve driven Rabelo.  I’m excited, but there’s also some trepidation.  Due to the recent rains the Seine is running fast, and there is a boat moored right behind us. I press the starter button, and our trusty GMC 6-71 diesel instantly comes alive.  Lisa and Kevin cast off the bow lines while I take care of the stern.  I manage to maneuver Rabeloaway from the dock, and turn her around so that we are headed down stream.  We’re off.

Our next stop is the Marne River, 90 kilometers (54 miles) away.  We’ll be playing with the big boys in the locks.  My new deckhand had better not make any mistakes.

We’ll spend the night a few kilometers up the Marne, and leave the next morning for Meaux.  This is the city where Brie Cheese was invented. Kevin will go home for the weekend, and return to spend one last week with us.

Meaux’s impressive cathedral.

A wedding in Meaux.

I’ve always wanted to tow a rubber ducky behind Rabelo.

This reprobate from the dark ages heard that North Caroline was hiring Potty Police. He’s going to apply for a job.

-Tom Miller
Author of “The Wave”  and “When Stones Speak”– 
Chuck Palmer Adventure novels


About the Author:

Tom Miller graduated from the University of Southern California with a Bachelor of Science in Geology. He is a consummate adventurer with over 1,000 dives as a recreational scuba diver, and an avid sailor who has traveled 65,000 miles throughout the Pacific including the Hawaiian Islands. Miller has also cruised the canals of Europe on his canal barge and given numerous lectures on cruising the canals of Europe, as well as sailing in the South Pacific. Piloting is also an interest of Miller's, and He has completed over 1,000 hours flying everything from small Cessnas to Lear jets.