Living afloat
The story of the Luxe Motor Watergeus, the Groningse snik Hornblower, the klipperaak Aquarel, the lemmeraak 'Op Hoop van Zegen' and how to convert a Dutch barge into a houseboat.
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The Watergeus is my home. It's an old Dutch Luxe Motor, built in 1929. She was about to be scrapped when we bought her...
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The 'Op Hoop van Zegen' is a lemmeraak from 1916. She is being converted into a classic looking yacht.
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HomeConverting a barge • Hatches


Since the many requests on information on hatches and hatch covers, I've decided to write this small article.

Besides having a safe and non leaking hull, the same is handy for the roof. Since hatches give a certain look and feeling to your boat; I like keeping them. Therefore, when the metal roof will be built on the Watergeus, the hatches will be put back. Like a boat needs to have a wheelhouse, so it needs to have its hatches, I believe!

Important for hatches is that they are fitted properly and tightened up. Wind can blow away hatches. I've seen it happening!

An example of how not to fit your hatches

Shape of hatches

Friese luikenkap

Typical for Dutch barges and especially for Luxe Motors is a Friese luikenkap. These hatches had a shape of a pyramid. Depending on the width of the vessels these hatches could exist of two sides that needed to be slide into a metal top.

Wooden hatches in two pieces, sliding into a metal top

The same principe as the picture above, but now in metal instead of wood


Rolluiken are built to easily move them by one person. Beneath every hatch is a wheel that slides over a rail. So the hatches can easily be moved without lifting. It is one of the best hatch systems available at the moment.

Rounded hatches

Rounded hatches are very light, mostly aluminium, hatches, often called 'blow away hatches'. They are very common in Belgium on spits barges. You need two people to move the hatches.

Light aluminium hatches on a spits barge

Another example of rounded aluminium hatches

Type of hatches

Wooden hatches

Originally all barges had wooden hatches. Often protected by tar to keep them from leaking. To protect wooden hatches, a cover was used.

Two covers on wooden hatches

Aluminium hatches

Aluminium hatches were lighter to carry and better to maintain. These days all commercial barges have aluminium hatches (there are a few exceptions).

Inside of the Watergeus with a view on the aluminium Friese luikenkap

How to close hatches

Depending on what type of hatches you have there are several options in securing them. Here are a few examples...

The most simple way, weld a metal stick to hold them. A quick solution, but no good for permanent use.

A loop where you put a cable through after the hatches have been slide over it. This picture shows how not to do it...

Putting a L-profile at the end of the hatches. The L-profile is attached to the den and keeps the hatches from being blown away.

And if there is no way to hold your hatches, put something on top of them...

A very unprofessional way, but efficient in some way...

Bringing light to the boat

Often the best way to have light in the boat is by the roof. You can put windows in the hatches or you can replace complete hatches by plastic hatches. Here are a few pictures to illustrate this:

A general view on plastic hatches. It doesn't disturb the line of the boat.

A detailed view of a plastic hatch. It gives a lot of light!

When a metal roof has been built, people often decide to put back wooden hatches for the look of the boat. When placing windows, two entranced need to be made for putting windows, one in the wood and one in the metal. Here is another approach for solving this issue:

In the metal roof placing windows and leaving a gap in the wooden hatches

Like replacing rounded hatches with plastic ones, there is also the option to create hatches in glass. It is a very effective but expensive way. The idea comes most likely from houses.

Glass in the same structure as a Friese luikenkap

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Last updated on: Tuesday, 20 September, 2016 11:00 PM
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