The Channel Crossing: Prepping the Barge

The waves of the English Channel can disrupt life inside flat bottomed barge like Wanderlust.

The waves of the English Channel can disrupt life inside flat bottomed barge like Wanderlust.

In the interest of helping others who will do the Channel crossing at some point in the future, I thought I share what we did to secure the loose stuff before things got bumpy. Though everything on Wanderlust held together and we didn’t have any breakage in relatively rough conditions, I would not advertise our preparations as necessarily reliable approach for others. Undoubtedly some of what we did was more than was needed. Also we could well have just gotten lucky that stuff that could have been damaged wasn’t. Everybody’s barge is different so, as they say, “Your mileage may vary”.

The one thing helped us to figure out what we needed to do is something that I would not recommend: When we came out of St. Katherines Dock we got hit hard by a large wake from a fast moving Thames Clipper that just passed. At that point we hadn’t completed our crossing preparations. The crash of the dinnerware was a rude reminder that we needed to secure things below.

The drawers on Wanderlust's galley island roped shut:  An island is unusual so many barges would not have this option.

The drawers on Wanderlust’s galley island roped shut: An island is unusual so many barges would not have this option.

The Prep

Inside:

For the crossing all glassware was secured in boxes. (We had saved the boxes for our wine glasses.) All loose stuff was taken off of the cabinets and boxed. Towels were stuffed in amongst the dinnerware in the island drawers. The island drawers themselves were roped closed. All other drawers were removed and wedged into places on the floor where they could not move. Where possible, the handles on adjacent cabinets were zip-tied together. Some of these cabinets were further taped closed with masking tap. Our skipper told us that, from what he has seen, taping drawers and cabinets shut is often not enough. From the little taping we did, I’d say I’d have to agree with that.

There are a couple of things that we didn’t do that we might of. We did not tie down our sofa, as there was no convenient way to do it. The sofa did not move during the crossing. Also, we have a large mirror attached on a wire to a forward bulkhead in the salon. The mirror rocked slightly from side to side during the crossing but never threatened to come off of the wall.

The drawers were removed and wedged into tight spots.

The drawers were removed and wedged into tight spots.

Engine Compartment:

We attached our bikes using bungees to the shelves. Everything else in the area was wedged in already and stayed put during the crossing.

Vents:

Per Simon Piper’s suggestion I stuffed a sock into the exhaust for the furnace to keep the seawater out. Somewhere along the way the sock fell out. Our skipper, under seriously rolling conditions, was able to wedge an empty yoghurt container into the hole. I would not advise trying repeat this. Trying to block the furnace vent mid-Channel in rough water is a tad crazy. Fortunately, the yoghurt container stayed in and kept the water out of the furnace.

The dryer vent was covered with caution tape, the best tape option we could find at the local Machine Mart. The tape held fine. This type of tape is relatively thick, holds up to water well, and comes off cleanly. It should work well for the furnace vent also if you don’t have an empty yoghurt container and a crazy skipper handy.

When possible, cabinet doors were "zip-tied" shut.

When possible, cabinet doors were “zip-tied” shut.

The Deck:

Everything was lashed or bungeed down. The ropes were brought into the wheelhouse. Once on the water all of the fenders were lifted out onto the deck. Our mast developed a wobble at the joint but our skipper was able to tie it down with thin rope in rough water. Watching our skipper charge around deck of the boat as we got tossed about prompted us to reconsider our man over board procedures!

Drawers in tight spots

Drawers in tight spots

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3 thoughts on “The Channel Crossing: Prepping the Barge

  1. Pingback: The Crossing: The Weather and the Wait | Wanderlust

  2. Pingback: Crossing the Channel | Wanderlust

  3. Pingback: Canal de Calais and the River Aa: Calais to Watten | Wanderlust

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