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.
MS Watergeus
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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Living Afloat
(and old stuff - outdated)
Living Afloat
Living Afloat gives you free ideas on what you need to know about barges, how to buy them, how to convert them, etc..
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MS Aquarel
The Aquarel is an authentic klipperaak from 1916 converted for exhibitions and with a permanent small museum of maritime artifacts.
MY Op Hoop van Zegen
Op Hoop van Zegen
The 'Op Hoop van Zegen' is a lemmeraak from 1916. She is being converted into a classic looking yacht.
I spent most of my time in or around boats. Read what I'm doing!
MS Hornblower
The Hornblower was a project of converting a snik into a yacht. I sold her in 2014 to start another project.
HomeConverted barges and their stories • How I bought the Watergeus

How I bought the Watergeus

People always ask me where I got the idea of buying a boat. I have no maritime background, nor in my family. Well I have worked for over seven years on boats in my spare time, before buying the Watergeus.
There was no specific kind of boats I preferred at that time. I helped restoring an Icelandic trawler, a wooden minesweeper, a wooden trawler, a couple of barges, an inland non self propelling tanker, a tug, ... All of these boats were saved from the scrapyard in one way or another. They were the boats nobody would buy, may know when the are finished. Family and mainly my parents didn't like the idea of me buying a boat, since the only boats they knew were those 'so called wrecks'. One thing I learned, creativity and making something out of these boats; a skill that I would always need in further maritime life.

In those seven years I looked at several boats, had plans with many more of them, but most of these were unrealistic. Every boat that went to a scrapyard had some potential to be converted. I only regret one ship, the Mousson. It was a tanker that left commercial service. She was complete with a brand new gearbox, new generator and revised engine.

The Mousson needed to be scrapped, a very sad event

Two years ago I decided to buy a boat quickly. I had dreamed enough of boats, had seen many of them being scrapped, etc... Here follows a list of boats I seriously looked at. I visited two boats before buying mine.

The first boat I looked for was an Ostend trawler, the O.396 Sabrina. The boat had been out of service for half a year, the main engine and deck equipment being removed. SHe looked like a wreck, but that type of boats had a nice curve. I went to see the boat, had big plans of adding an extra level to the back having to live in two levels. I didn't mind there was no engine, I would have looked for one later...

The O.396 Sabrina as I planned to buy her

The fish hold, where my office would have come...

While searching I found a spits barge that I liked, simple, with some damage from a collision. Unfortunately the boat was not for sale and the people didn't have any intention on selling her quickly. There was another spits in Ghent, I used to work on, but I didn't buy it since I didn't like the conversion of that boat.

The Derby was a simple spits, but I loved her back accommodation construction

A detailed view of the damage on the back

Seven months later I found a spits barge built as a vegetable oil tanker. She didn't have much accommodation, but had a brand new Cummins 400hp engine. It was a modern ship, no nice curve but the price was reasonable ok. I liked her for the deck, a complete metal deck. She was strong, had several bulkheads and a hydraulic steering system. The good thing was I could have her straight away, but since the boat was moored at the boarder, I had to move her to friends in Sluiskil to start the conversion work. If I would have gotten the boat, she would have been pretty much ready by now, but who knows... These days the boat has a bad list and needs pumping every two weeks to lay steady in the water.

The Corail at the border, a square boxed spits but with a metal deck

One of the six compartments

A few days later a friend of mine decided to sell his boat, the Watergeus. This became the boat I bought...

I spent many time drawing plans to create an idea on how to convert these boats. While talking to a friend, he gave me the following advice: the best thing to do is to sit in the boat your planning to buy and to start imagine how to create the rooms, etc... This advice is true, since I often had no idea of sizes. I took around 50 pictures of each boat, but still you notice you missed some important information.

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