Living afloat
The story of the Luxe Motor Watergeus, the Groningse snik Hornblower, the klipperaak Aquarel, the lemmeraak 'Op Hoop van Zegen', the Friese maatkast Tordino and how to convert a Dutch barge into a houseboat.
 
MS Watergeus
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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MS Tordino
The Tordino is a Friese Maatkast built in 1922. She is being converted into a floating museum.
 
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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.
 
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.
 
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The Hornblower was a project of converting a snik into a yacht. I sold her in 2014 to start another project.
 
HomeConversion • March 2008

March 2008

1st March 2008: Preparing meeting and reception

There is a meeting of the Vlaamse Woonschepen, an organisation that protects and fights for the rights of the Flemish house boat people. The meeting and reception are being organised by the house boats of Bruges, which I'm part of.


Putting some stuff in the hold to give it a better look

In the morning I cleaned my hold, put some decorating stuff in and did shopping for the meal tomorrow. I didn't have that much stuff by hand, so every item I had was spread over the hold such as an air vent, old fuel cans, small winches, meters from an engine, anchors and navigation lights.

2nd March 2008: Meeting

The big day, people from Ghent and Bruges came to visit our ships, have a good meal and mainly to talk about the future of the organisation and how to negotiate with the government. I learned to know a few new people, they even convinced me to move my ship in September to Ghent. I'm not sure yet, but we'll see.


Small exhibition aboard the Watergeus


Small exhibition aboard the Watergeus: Pictures of the conversion and neighbours


The guests having a drink and eating a small meal

7th March 2008

In the evening, while it was getting dark, a spits barge was passing by. It was the Linquenda from Terneuzen. I quickly took my bike and followed it to the nearest lock, so I could take some more pictures.


The spits Linquenda entering the lock in Bruges

8th March 2008

I had an exam in the morning for getting my sailing certificate. I'm not sure yet whether I have passed. It takes 4 weeks before you know the result.

In the afternoon I walked around in Ghent to take some pictures of the house boats. I visited an old ice breaking tug that was converted into a bed & breakfast. A nice ship, I would have been convinced to buy this ship if I didn't had the Watergeus!


Several spits barges in a row in Ghent

9th March 2008

The intention was to clean the cargo hold from last week and to start sorting out the wood. By the time the hold was cleared, I continued to do the remaining part of the floor, around 40m2. It took me all afternoon but still I'm not finished. I hope to finish it next Saturday.


Building the remaining part of the floor in the hold

11th March 2008

While I'm still making more concrete plans for converting the hold, I found it was time to make a trial construction.


A temporary construction, to get an idea of size and space that will be lost when building a distance from the sides

14th March 2008

In the morning I had a meeting with the Flemish Government to talk about the house boat situation and the future of the ships on their mooring. Since I'm a member of the board of Vlaamse Woonschepen I spend more time these days on the house boat situation then on any other subject.

15th March 2008

Mainly worked on the garden today, like I spoke to somebody yesterday who asked if I had a garden. Yes I do, a few flowers and little trees on deck give me a green impression.


My little garden

In the afternoon a friend living a few ships further came. He started looking at my plan to convert the hold and when he was finished, nearly everything had to change. The wood I had ordered last month is fine, but not suitable for the main construction. Furthermore he made me have a good look at some ideas I had. Most of them were fine in theory, but in practice unrealisable or to expensive. I know what to do the coming week!

17th March 2008

The first year I don't go drinking some Guinness beer on this day. I had to order wood for the framework in the ship and the wood store closes at 5 o'clock.

The azobe wood in the hold is not savable. Not only will it take to much work, it has been gone to far to be saved. Therefore somebody will come and collect it for his fire. Sad, but at least it still has some use. A few good planks will be re-used for a smaller floor in my ship. I started at 7 in the evening with some good music and two heavy lights. By the time it was 2 o'clock in th morning, one third of the wood was on deck. There was no space left to move, so I had to quit. One good thing about this: My hold looks bigger again.


The pile on the left needs to go


The pile has nearly gone


Somewhere the next day when I finished the job around 2 o'clock in the morning

20th March 2008

Since al the wood needs to go to a neighbour a few ships further, and it had to go quickly, my neighbour decided to move his ship along mine. It took half a day of to help and enjoy this little trip.

He had to sail through the first bridge, try to turn and then sail back. It is to narrow for us to turn, so we could sail backwards and then turn or sail forwards and turn after the bridge. He had chosen the second option.


The Watergeus


Hatches on the left and a hatch cover on the right


With all the wood at the back, my propeller was completely under the water

21st March 2008

A friend once told moving your ship to the other side of the dock is like making a trip, seeing a different view through the same window! Well having a neighbour feels the same.

In the evening we had a meal together, besides a good skipper he is a good cook as well!

22nd March 2008

Since last elections of the board for Vlaamse Woonschepen failed (not enough members available), there was a new meeting in the afternoon. In the morning, the board came together to speak about the running projects and to talk about the future. Some very important ideas and meeting a few new people made it a successful day!

There was a person who is living on a barge on her own. She really wanted that barge, but no bank would give a loan, so the skippers arranged something with her. They helped her realizing her dream. This is not only a prove living on a boat is more then just a hype, but also many commercial skippers believe in living on water and keeping their old barge afloat as a house boat, instead of seeing them scrapped!

23th March 2008

Easter and snow, not a combination that we can see every year. I woke up at 5 o'clock and decided to have a look outside. Snow on the ship and in the street, a bit dark but perfect for some pictures. Inside temperature, around 1,2 degrees Celsius. I went back to bed and an hour later, I had to switch on the petroleum fire.


Snow is covering the hatches at 5 o'clock in the morning


Snow is covering the hatches at 8 o'clock in the morning


Later on the day more snow followed


Later on the day more snow followed

In the morning and afternoon I really finished the floor (this time it is finished completely), while my parents cleaned the remaining floor bits of the original cargo hold.

The best way to clean the floor is doing it with a metal brush. It is a hard job that will help you training your muscles, but it causes a lot of dust.


Cleaning the wood with a metal brush

24th March 2008

I always thought I was good at planning, and yes at some stage I'm, but now when the details need to be known, I'm stuck. Nearly twice a week I need to ask neighbours for advice. They are much further then me, so it is not bad to use their knowledge instead of making their faults all over again.

A maybe simple looking question, such as 'where to put the switches for the lights' makes my head go crazy. No idea, I have never thought on that one. By the end of the week al these and many more questions needs answers, So it will be again a very busy week.

25th March 2008

I went to a skipper living on the first barge on the canal. He is willing to move my ship in September to Ghent for an event on old monuments.

27th March 2008

The wood was delivered today. Sadly enough I wasn't feeling well so my parents had to come and put the wood in the ship for me. It wasn't much, but again very expensive. They say metal is expensive, but wood is at least as expensive.

28th March 2008

I went to the neighbour behind me to talk about the conversion that would start tomorrow. Since I'm partly going to do the work he did, using the same construction, it was not a bad idea to hear his experience.

29th March 2008

A very productive day. A carpenter came to assist me in converting the hold. Together we have managed to build the raised floor for the kitchen and bathroom.


Raising the floor: View on the bathroom

30th March 2008

I continued working on my own, starting to clean the hold and ending by building the floor for the living room, bedroom and office space.


This piece of floor will be used in the office space and corridor


Lining out the wood for the floor

31st March 2008

This evening I went ordering wood and insulation. Since I received a good price where I always order my wood, I bought the insulation as well from them.

 
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