Eyes Wide Open
15 October – 18 October 2010
By now, I think I had convinced myself that a used Piper was the way to go, so in October 2010 (less than two months after that fateful day at Homps in August 2010) I flew to Moissac, about one hour's drive north of Toulouse in the south of France, where Kimasut was moored, in order to do a personal inspection and get a feel for the barge (or as much feel as a novice can get in less than a week). OK, call me impulsive; everyone else does!
Kimasut had been moored in the Port of Moissac (www.cepnoblemarine.com) over winter in 2009-10, and was planning to be moored there again over the winter of 2010-11. Moissac looked like a very nice town, with a very old Abbey, a bustling weekend market, and lots of interesting shops and restaurants (but wth an olde-worlde feel). The port itself was also very attractive and the Capitainerie (Iain & Kaz Noble) were very friendly and helpful.
The first thing that impressed me about Kimasut was that unlike many ads, where the pictures show all the good bits and hide all the dodgy bits, the ApolloDuck pictures and those in the Boat Test review all showed Kimasut as she really was. The photos I took on my visit are indistinguishable from those in the ads, except that theirs are better technically.
The owner of Kimasut, Chris Farmer, had picked me up at Toulouse airport, and had arranged for me to stay at a local hotel. He then showed me all over Kimasut, before we settled down to a few drinks and lots of talk on the rear deck of Kimasut.
Chris then showed off his culinary skills in the galley, before we sampled the local Rose and made arrangements for the following day (after we bought Kimasut, Chris proved to be a great source of support, supplying extra spare parts that were not in the original deal, and always being ready to help with any advice).
One of the nice things about Moissac is that as well as being on the Garonne Canal (the westward extension of the Midi), it is also next to the Tarn River, which can be reached from the canal via one lock. So while there, I was taken down to the Tarn and allowed to take control of Kimasut (away from the narrow confines of the canal and the locks). This was very useful in convincing me that skippering a 17m barge was not rocket science, and was well within the realms of possibility for me and Rita.
While waiting for the lock opening to get back to the canal, we tied up and I managed to get a nice shot of Kimasut. This photo was to prove very useful in later decisions about Kanumbra (nee Kimasut). But I am getting ahead of myself. First, I had to buy Kimasut, which I did before I left Moissac that week. I flew home a very happy camper, even though I was a bit concerned that maybe, just maybe, I had acted a bit hastily. Oh well, time will tell.