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.
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.