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 • May 2010

May 2010

1st May 2010: BBQ

Today was a nice day, the first bbq of 2010 aboard the Watergeus. The weather was not exactly good, but it certainly didn't ruin the event!

In the morning I built the party tent and yes, a cheap thing can do its work! Even much better then my construction.

Party tent next to the Watergeus. I love my mooring spot!

Because of the rain, we were sitting inside to eat

2nd May 2010: Cleaning

Besides breaking down the tent and doing the dishes, I decided not to work on the boat. But I already know what to do the coming week...

4th May 2010: What can be saved must be saved

I have mentioned it before and it was an idea that had been playing in my head for the last couple of months: Saving the Ontario from the scrapyard. The Ontario is a 1924 built spits barge from the famous Belgian yard Jos Boel & Zn in Temse. This marvelous ship with a MAN 3 cylinder slow running engine, had been at the scrapyard before.

Photo taken in July 2007

As she looks now

This vessel later returned to Bruges and had been vandalised ever since. Besides a fire, she was cut loose on several occasions and even made it into the local newspaper a few times...

Cargo hold

Engine room

Back accommodation

The last couple of months, I had been in talk with several people to find out more about the history of the boat, yard visits, etc... Since the project would demand me to much time and I didn't have any budget, A friend of mine bought the ship.

We will put it along the Watergeus for a short period, before it leaves for the Netherlands. At least, she will be saved from the scrapyard and this had been my intention from day one!

6th May 2010: Moving the Arma

We moved the Arma to her new mooring, not far from the Watergeus.

Undoing the ropes

Turning around

Going through Bruges

Mooring the ship at the right spot

7th May 2010: Deck and front cabin

In the evening I started with wood work in the front accommodation. Since the weather was rather looking good, I continued on the deck till late. The I realised I still had to do some preparations for the job tomorrow.

8th May 2010: Moving the Ontario

The first day of three intensive weeks: making the Ontario ready for sailing after ten years. We started at 8 and we ended at 9 O'clock in the evening. Continuously working, but the result was good to me. Lest start at the beginning.

Since the engine is not running we moved the ship by hand like in the old days. A small boat with a 4hp outboard tried helping. It wasn't very easy and I had underestimated the strength you need to pull a ship. Jagen, as it is called in Dutch, was very common in the early days before barges had engines.

As she looked when we went to get her

The deck was one big mess, the little boat had just arrived

Pulling by hand, the old fashioned way. Notice the Arma on the left at her new mooring.

The engine was not heavy enough

A small error in the coordination of the ropes

Heading for the bridge

Leaving her old mooring

Going full speed

The angle to pull her through the bridge was not exactly perfect

Entering the Canal

Me pulling

Reflections in the water, there is a lot of work


Nearly at the Watergeus

Ready for pulling alongside

The last few meters

Nearly there, a nice shot of the list she made at the time we were moving her

In the evening: Cleaned

In the evening: Cleaned

9th May 2010: Cleaning

The next day looking at a project is a lot different then the first moment. Now you realise how much energy it will cost, certainly when you wake up with pain in the back, neck and head.

I decided to do it a bit more relaxed today. I made a little mast for the bow of the ship. A boat with no mast and flags doesn't look right. My parents came to eat so I only worked in the afternoon, starting with making a small inventory of what needs doing in Bruges:

  • Making the engine to run
  • Cleaning the outside
  • Emptying the back accommodation

The more I looked around, the more I got fascinated they way the Ontario was built, the details in the den and boeisel. So I started chipping rust till it came dark.

Also some more water was pumped out. She is no longer having a list, but is now taking my light in the living room.

12th May 2010: Another ship?

Read the full story here

A few weeks ago, a friend, one of my neighbours, came to talk about buying a boat together. We talked for hours, had a beer and then all went home. A few days later we started mailing boats we found on the Internet.

Today we went to have a look at a barge, a small Beurtschip. The same shape of hull as the Watergeus but with a small wheelhouse, no accommodation and most likely, she was used as a tanker.

The ship was on land at a yard in Zwartsluis. Zwartsluis has many yards, on one of them the Watergeus was lengthened in 1962. After driving for over 4 hours, we arrived. At first sight, she was looking good. There was not much known on the barge. The engine was there, but condition unknown. The hold was filled with a lot of stuff and there were as a lot of work on the hull. At the other side, the size was good and the bottom of the ship as well. She had been doubled.

Since we were now having a lot of questions, we made no decision, and returned to Bruges. We shall see the next coming days what the future brings...

13th May 2010: Living Room

There are always small jobs that needs doing. The hold was finished, but a few little details needed doing. One of them was finishing the wood work in the skylight. Well, I've just done it.

15th May 2010: Back accommodation

I removed all the paint from one side of the back accommodation. That's the side where the wind is blowing the most and the condition of the ship is the worst...

In t he afternoon, I painted the new woodwork in the entrance and living room.

16th May 2010: Forepeak

I continued working in the forepeak, making a wooden frame and drilling holes in the ribs. After many attempts to make something in this area, I believe I'll finish it this time. At least four times, I tried working in this area. After a few days I start doing something else and I reuse this area for storage. Now, I finally want to make a nice living area for visitors.

17th May 2010: Turning around the Arma

The Arma had to be moored the other side, so we turned her over in the evening.

20th May 2010: Moving the Ontario

Some stuff has to be taken out tomorrow, so we moved the Ontario by hand to a mooring with land side a bit further on the canal. It was not a real mooring, but we had to improvise something.

21st May 2010: Moving her back

The Ontario is back next to me. For a day I had a view on the water. I'll be glad when she is gone, not for the view but for my ropes and steel cables.

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