Living afloat
The story of the Luxe Motor Watergeus, the Groningse snik Hornblower, the Historische klipperaak Aquarel, the lemmeraak 'Op Hoop van Zegen', the Friese maatkast Tordino 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
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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 Tordino
The Tordino is a Friese Maatkast built in 1922. She is being converted into a floating museum.
MS Aquarel
The Aquarel is an authentic klipperaak from 1916 converted for exhibitions and with a permanent small museum of maritime artifacts. She was sold in 2016 and is now a houseboat in Zaandam.
MY Op Hoop van Zegen
Op Hoop van Zegen
The 'Op Hoop van Zegen' is a lemmeraak from 1916. She was 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.
HomeConversion • September 2007

September 2007

1st September 2007

Today I continued cleaning the front cabin and the front cabin door. It is harder then I thought, but I still believe not having learned my lesson after the anchor winch.

Repaired the small winch for lowering the mast.

In the evening I went for a small walk and discovered a motorized sleepschip was moored in the big dock behind me. The owner wasn't aboard, so I was only able to take pictures from the outside. She pretty much looked original, only the den was raised and the front cabin modernized. Only Dutch barges last so long in commercial trade, believe me!

2nd September 2007

A day of no work seemed a good idea, so I visited two second hand street sales. On the first one I bought a nice kitchen cupboard from the 50's. I didn't argue the price since I needed them to bring it to the boat. It was way to big for our car. While these sales used to be cheap in the old days, you find rarely cheap items these days. It has become a business like any other ordinary commerce.
On the second sale I found a few portholes but didn't buy them, they were so expensive, 250 euros for one window.

In the afternoon I walked to the old harbour of Bruges, which is still being used by many inland vessels. I hadn't been there in four years. Besides a few container lighters, I found three French ‘Strasbourg' spits barges.

Three 'Strasbourg' spitsen in the harbour of Bruges

3rd September 2007

Friday, they mentioned on the radio that Bruges had a record of rain, even more then most rainy place in Belgium. I believed them and wasn't too happy with this record. Even worse, this night, I woke up from the noise of the rain. It was heavily raining, so I went out of bed to shut my engine room door, quite some rain must have entered, but I didn't bother, I was to tired. At 3 o'clock in the morning outside in the rain is not a pretty feeling.

When I woke up at seven, it was still raining, even more!

He is changing most of the negative elements of the last conversion. It costs him more time, but it is certainly worth it. The boat will become stronger and nicer!

Welding the 10cm strip on the sides that covers the holes of the hatches.

In the afternoon they delivered the 40 ribs for the roof. Since the man in the truck didn't have that much time he delivered the in the grass. We had to move them on the boat. Since between the boat and the grass there is a small downhill with grass and mud it wasn't easy. The rain made it even worse, but in less then 20 minutes all ribs were on the boat!

The ribs that will hold the roof, 1cm thick and 4m long.

We moved the hatches, only a few since the weather didn't give us a sign of amelioration. To put the ribs in position we used an L-profile. If we would not have done this, it was harder to hold it (read: I could not hold it since I'm only using my left hand) and we could not have kept the rib straight for welding. By the end of the afternoon, we were half way in the living room area of the cargo hold.

The first few ribs in position

In the late evening, the cupboard was delivered to the boat; it took us three people to put it in the cargo hold.

4th September

We started where we stopped yesterday. As far as we make progress, we notice the den has more distance between the other den we could expect. The first two ribs we placed didn't fit. We couldn't pull the den closer so we needed more and stronger equipment. We used a #takel# to get both den's closer and with success. Because of this issue we lost a bit of time, but once it fitted, all other ribs could be placed quickly.

Hatches back on the hold, so less rain can enter the cargo hold

More ribs in position

More ribs in position

More ribs in position

More ribs in position, seen from the inside of the hold

At the front, the den goes smaller, this because the boat goes smaller as well. So we had to cut a few ribs smaller. By the end of the afternoon all ribs were in position. Oh it felt good to notice such a quick progress, something I'm not used to (a month to clean an anchor winch, six months to build a den...).

5th September 2007

All ribs are placed, but if we would not put something between to hold their width between each other, they would start to wave. We will cut metal strips and put them between each rib. The more he puts the better; it is a good start for putting my wood against when doing the interior.

By the end of the afternoon all pieces were welded between the ribs. This made the roof structure very solid. Before you could move the ribs and make them wave; now you couldn't. The whole structure will be finally welded tomorrow. Then it has all its strength to hold the plates.

6th September 2007

We looked again at the option for how to move the plates of 2m x 6m x 5mm on the boat. With no crane there really is no option in moving those plates. The truck can't drive next to the boat since his weight would severely damage the bicycle road next to the boat. So we shall move the boat to the other side. Something I like but as much dislike. A lot of work, undoing all my ropes (9 ropes in total), but at the other hand seeing my boat moving isn't to bad at all neither.

In the meantime all ribs were finally welded today. This was the last step before putting the plates on Monday. He expected to have a day and halve to finish this job, but a day was obviously enough.

I had the pleasant visit of the daughter of the original owner of the boat. She left the boat when she was 15 and wanted to see it back. As far as I understood they last saw the boat in the early 90's. They were so happy to visit the boat. Besides a lot of new information, I received several photos from the boat and the complete report of what had happened during the War. Whenever I have time, this information will be added to the site.

In the afternoon we had a small accident. One of the six small windows broke. Since it is hardened glass, a little drip from welding is enough to break it. I'll bring it tomorrow to a glassmaker and see to replace the glass.

7th September 2007

This morning I went to the glassmaker and ask to replace the broken glass. It is not possible to replace the glass. The can solve it, but it is not original, meaning the glass will no longer be able to open the other piece of the window.

No work was carried out today at the roof. A few friends came and we discussed the plan for Monday. In the afternoon I removed already one rope from the boat. It cost me two hours, since the rope was stuck at a piece of metal on the wooden side support of the quay. Also a few plants had grown on and in the rope. In the end I was happy it was removed. Fortunately I discovered it now, other wise on Monday, it would have been a disaster.

Also today, two boats left their mooring for an event in Beernem. All of us had received an invitation for moving the boat to the yacht harbour in Beernem. Since I'm converting the boat I couldn't go. But I have some nice pictures of my neighbours sailing to there!

My neighbour leaving, note the spits in the background is also leaving his mooring

Now that the neighbour is gone, I could take a better picture of the stern of my boat.

8th September 2007

In Furnes there is an old yard, for spits barges. That yard is known by everybody but no longer very active these days. I decided to have a look. I was surprised to find so many barges in Furnes, at least 5 Luxe Motors, two klipperaken and a few spits barges. There was even a Humber keel. I spoke to a few of the owners.
Later we drove to Nieuwpoort, were I found another two Luxe Motors. It was a fascinating afternoon.

One of the people in Furnes is already converting his boat for 24 years. It is a nice and well-maintained boat. He gave me some good advice as well. He had the same problem as me of buying a boat with no den/deck. His boat used to be a crane barge.
There was a spits barge, nearly original, all specific items such as mooring posts, railing, doors, etc painted in colours, making a nice contrast. I know most people wouldn't like it, but it accented the originality of the barge so much. If I would have to  choose a spits to become a museum, she had everything original looking from the outside! You don't find that many spits barges looking so original!

In the evening I had a drink with Andy. He will assist me on Monday moving the boat. When we got back it was already dark, the perfect time to test navigation lights.

9th September 2007

Last year I made the base for a working table in the evening school. Most of the metal pieces are now used around the boat, like the metal supports are at the anchor winch preventing the anchors to fall in the water. Anyway, with the remaining pieces and a bit of wood I finally finished the table. I'm planning on using it next week to clean the storm hatches of my portholes.

Tomorrow is the big day; the plates will be on the roof. So I removed a few ropes, made the electricity cable loose and cleared the gangways so everything should run smoothly. I don't expect many problems tomorrow if it concerns moving the boat and the rope work.

An ex colleague came with her two children. They asked a lot of questions and the made sense. So I'm considering making a small part of the site with explanations for children. It is already fascinating for me to on a boat, so I can imagine how it must be for the kids!

10th September 2007

I left my bed at 4 o'clock. I started undoing most op the ropes. At 5 my father and me moved the hatches on two piles. At six we started the engine and tried to move the boat the other side of the canal. No problem, it is only 35 meters, but the wind decided to make It different. It took us 25 minutes to more the boat. The first time the boat nearly turned completely, what would not have been possible and cause us to be stuck in the canal (and blocking it). The second attempt took us more time, but in the end we made it.

Early in the morning...

Early in the morning...

At seven, the plates were delivered and put into position.

At the other side of the dock, plates being placed in position

Half an hour later we could move the boat back to its mooring. This took us less then 5 minutes since the wind was blowing us to the place.

Back on the mooring

The whole day we put the plates in the best position possible and touched them. We had to stop at some moment since it was raining to hard.

Using a pump to position the plates

In the afternoon, all of the sudden the boat was very deep in the water. I didn't notice, I only discovered the quay was higher then the boat. The man of the yard laughed and said the boat was sinking. To tired to get the joke I went looking for water in the bilges, but couldn't find any. When I looked again I found the cause, water was very low, uncommon.

Many boats had to wait until the water was lowered

I called the nearest locks and asked if they were ware of the change of water level. Since one lock was broken, they had to lower the river so boats could move. You would expect them to warn you for the ropes, but they didn't. I checked the mooring to see if the depth was still ok,, since it isn't deep under the boat.  My boat has a draft of 90cm, while I have 1.50 meters beneath the boat.

I still had to do a few ropes, but will wait till the water level is normal again.

11th September 2007

No welding today. Cleaned out the front space, so it is ready for putting portholes. I discovered a lot of stuff I didn't know I owned it. Some of it is to heavy for use, but nice as decoration. What I could easily conclude; A small space can contain a lot of stuff!

In the evening I went to the other side taking pictures of the boat, so I could have an idea how she would look like without hatches:

The Watergeus seen from the other side

The Watergeus seen from the other side

The Watergeus seen from the other side

12th September 2007

One plate had to be cut, and the other one had to be put in position. It took us all morning to fit in those last two points. Not only goes the boat narrower, it is also the place where the boat makes it curve.

Cutting the plates so they would fit

Cutting the plates so they would fit

By the early afternoon, he could start stitching the ribs.

Welding the plates from the inside

13th September 2007

The whole day was spent stitching the inside of the hold. All plates were welded to the ribs, welding 5cm, leaving 50cm. A very boring and uncomfortable job, welding above your head.

Welding the plates from the inside

In the evening I cleaned my old waterpump engine, a Briggs & Stratton from 1952.

The waterpump, being cleaned

I would like to put this engine as part of the decoration in the living room. It took me three hours to clean most of it, removing the old oil, fuel, etc…

The waterpump, being cleaned

I looked on the Internet how I should repaint it. Only I didn't fond a colour scheme.

14th September 2007

While the man was welding the roof, I cleaned the rest of the front space. I called a friend to know if he was interested in a deal with scrap. When he agreed all metal pieces left in the front and back of the boat were put on deck. It is something between 750kg and 1000kg I believe. We'll bring it away tomorrow.

Scrap on deck of the boat, around 750kg

15th September 2007

While loading the metal in the car I decided to keep a strip and a hatch, even if it is broken. The hatch is of the same style as the hatches in front of the wheelhouse. I do have a spare hatch and now with this one I can create something in the front in the future.

When the car was on the slipway to check the weight, it was 700kg, so still a nice sum of money to spent to place the portholes in the front. I even have a spanner and pipe for the fuel tank, free! If I would have stayed longer on the scrapyard, I would have bought plenty of stuff. Incredible what people throw away. I would be in shame if I trew this away.

In the afternoon I started breaking out the floor of the front peak. Woodworm had eaten so much I felt through on one location and it would not have taken long before it was on multiple locations. I knew the floor was not good and water was in the bilges, but last year I needed a space to store my stuff so I used it as it was.

The original rotten floor in the front must have been part of an interior in a previous life

Last week I cleaned it out and today I would start with the bilges, what a mess!

Most likely was the watertank once emptied in the bilges

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