Tuesday, February 23, 2016

On a Barge in France

What do you do when your retirement dream is to sail around the world and your spouse's ideal is have an apartment in London or Europe?

The obvious answer, of course, is to buy a 1926 steel Dutch canal barge and ply the canals of France.

Hoop Doet Leven
Hoop Doet Leven, which means "Hope Sustains Life," has been the summer home of Harvey Schwartz and Sandra Hamilton for the last four years.

Harvey is a retired civil rights attorney from Boston, a wooden boat guy and shares my penchant for all watercraft. He has cruised the New England coast for years and, a few years ago sailed a catamaran to the Bahamas. However, he has given up his caulking hammer for an angle grinder and now calls this 70' barge home.

His wife, Sandra, has immersed herself in the French language and culture and serves as bow crew and primary interpreter.

The great part about their retirement for us is we can share their experiences vicariously through Harvey's blog (https://onabargeinfrance.com/).  However, he has taken the best experiences and put them in a book entitled (oddly enough)  "On a Barge in France."  You can buy it on Amazon (http://www.amazon.com/barge-France-Harvey-Schwartz-ebook/dp/B01AV0OYKK/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1456278119&sr=1-1&keywords=on+a+barge+in+france)  and I really think you should.

In the interest of full disclosure, I should mention that Harvey is a friend, but that is not the only reason I recommend this read. Harvey has an engaging style of writing that combines the history of the places they visit with a fair dollop of experiencing a different culture and way of life. There is much to take from Harvey and Sandra's adventures.

The nub of it is that, usually, our vacations are of the 1-2 week variety and, while you may have a great time, you can never say you really got to know  the people or the land or why they are who they are. Harvey and Sandra are doing just that - and that makes all the difference.

This is a great read whether you are a boater, a traveler - or even an armchair adventurer.