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Update on visa: 2-3 yrs cruising French canals

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I am extremely disappointed to give an update on our quest for a long term visa as it was our intent to cruise the Belgium, Dutch and French canals for 2-3 years.

French visa: hangup to getting the visa was the very, very strict wording the French application required. Insurance must be worldwide, zero deductible, $50,000 benefit and these words among others must be stated in a letter from the insurance company. My insurance company would only say I am covered and to refer to my contract which was the brochure. This was not acceptable and so no visa. Solution: there are companies called Schengen visa insurance companies but due to our ages, the insurance was in the $5,000 range. Considering we would also be paying for our private insurance and Medicare while gone, just too expensive. But yes it is available.

Our second problem was that there was no permanent residence and it was deemed unlikely that we would be granted a permit to stay in France by the immigration authorities. So we had 2 strikes against us. We did have a real nice guy at the French consulate who in response to our email, called us.

Dutch visa: for a long term visa you must be a student, Turkish, seeking asylum, etc. There is no category for traveling from place to place and even having a marina as an address was not acceptable. Since we did not fit the few groupings they had, when I called the immigration office in Holland, she was adamant the visa would be denied.

Schengen countries and UK: we also contemplated buying the boat, and leaving and coming back to Holland, Belgium or France every 3 months alternating between Britain and/or the Channel Islands. Crossing the Channel or crossing to the Channel Islands we felt was a tad risky for us.

We looked at different kinds of boats to make the crossings but since we wanted a particular size and needed a boat with a shower in our price range, we did find 3 great boats. So we bought airline tickets to see the boat, cancelled when concerned about French visa, thought we would go to San Francisco to get a Dutch visa, so felt the canal trip was "on" again.

Considering recent events in France, our not getting to do this trip is trivial but it has been about 2 months of intense, every spare minute of every day, trying to find a boat, trying to wade through info on getting a visa and hoping we could get to Europe to see our 3 choices before they were sold. So yes a disappointment.

Solution: we are going to take our current boat and cruise the intercoastal canal of the US, through the Great Lakes and down the Mississippi having some beignets in New Orleans instead of a croissant in France.

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