Watergeus – worktable

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!


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.

Watergeus – No welding today

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!


Watergeus – Welding the roof (4)

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.

Watergeus – Welding the roof (3)

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.

Watergeus – Welding the roof (2)

4th September 2007 – 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.

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…).

Watergeus – Welding the roof (1)

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!

The welder 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!

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!

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.

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

Street sales

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.

Watergeus – Cleaning front cabin

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.

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!

Watergeus – Welding the metal strip

29th August 2007 – The plate of 10cm was welded today, or they started. Every meter they painted, they cleaned it and painted it o protect the weld and the plate. They removed the windows. I was pleased to see how independent he could do the job!

Since the works don’t continue for a certain time (4 days) the hatches were closed again. So everything looks tidy and nice.

Watergeus – Rain and welding

28th August 2007 – Yesterday I didn’t put back the hatches, so today I only had to undo a few knots in the wires around them to prevent them blowing away by the wind. Of course in the morning, it started raining. A short period, but heavy. Fortunately during the day, the sun came out and by the end of the day no more water was in the bilges.

The holes on the side were covered with a metal plate of 10cm height. The man tried to put back the curve in the boat and nicely succeeded in this. He plans to weld this plate tomorrow. Since the windows were close, tomorrow we have to remove a few to prevent them from being severely damaged. Aluminum melts quicker then metal.

Watergeus – Loading the metal aboard

27th August 2007 – The big day. At five o’clock in the morning we removed the hatches, so the people of the yard could start working on the boat. The metal sadly arrived after midday. The people of the yard were on time and placed all the metal aboard. Since it was to late, they decided no longer to weld today.

In the early morning I had taken tons of pictures from my boat without hatches, believing it would be the last time to see her like that. So she will look like that tomorrow as well!

After the hatches and leaving my bed quite early I had a whole day of work in Ostend

In the evening when I was back I talked with a neighbour about the esthetic value of hatches. Many people under estimate the value of hatches on a boat, first of all the look and secondly the storage space and protection. I won’t say there aren’t any negative elements, but the positive ones are in majority!

Watergeus – Removing the hatches

25th August 2007 – In the morning me and my father prepared the hatches for moving. My idea of carrying two or three hatches at once is not exactly possible. I still suffer a lot on my hand, so it is to heavy. We will have to do hatch by hatch. Since I’m already convinced the hatches have to be moved several times, it looked better to number them on both sides and write the matching number on the den.

This reminds me of a friend in Ghent. She has a barge and used to have a nice wooden floor on her deck. She had to repaint the boat, so an old man helped her removing the wood. She asked him to number the planks and pieces so it became possible to put it back. A few weeks later I had to clean the wood and found only a few pieces were numbered. Cause? The man could only count till 10! Well she couldn’t laugh and her deck is still not back!

My old gangway is now on land for a friend who’s boat is about to be moored in front of me in the next few weeks. So the front cabin is clear again and ready for removing the last bits of paint. This is what we have done in the afternoon, cleaning the paint!

The windows have been covered with hardboard and tape to prevent damage from welding and graining disks. Since they start on Monday, I wanted everything to be prepared. Let just hope it doesn’t rain in the next couple of weeks!

Watergeus – Painting the waterline

24th August 2007 +- Since the boat will be lowered by at least two centimeters, and the bio tar used on the hull is not that good (it is falling off), I decided to paint the current waterline. This one will be below the water once the roof is finished and all metal is aboard! I don’t have a dinky so I only did the land side of the boat. I had some paint left and repainted pieces that looked rusty!

The supports of the glass house had been put on my deck, so I laid them inside in the cargo hold, where I might need them, not sure yet!

In the evening I visited a friend who is restoring boats. Most of his time he had been restoring spits-barges, but was now busy cleaning and repairing an sleeptankschip. He was showing me the ribs and the thickness of the plates used for it. He was surprised, I’m not. That’s the difference between a Dutch barge and a French or Belgian barge! Dutch barges have always been built with thicker plates.