We bought a boat. We bought a really big boat. Measuring 30m x 4.65m she's a bit of a palace on the water. She's a 104 year old dutch barge that's gone through many guises in her lifetime, starting her life with sails, being fitted with an engine in the 1940's and then being extended my 5 metres in the middle in the 1950's, and later converted to a houseboat in the 1980's.
She's a steel, flat bottomed boat designed for the inland waterways and larger canals of the Netherlands and the rest of Europe. Looking at the ships logs it spent much of it's working life going backwards and forwards between the Netherlands and Germany.
We are Pearl and Adam. We are an English couple that have found ourselves living in the Netherlands for two years when we realised our original plan of taking her back to the west of England to renovate was a much bigger undertaking than we first thought, particularly when there was some work to do on the engine and a deadline to get the european waterways certificate. Well that is done now, and the boat has become a home. We came to Belgium just before xmas as we loved Gent when we visited previously and it was closer for our friends from the UK to come for a New Years Eve party! And then we got happily stuck here. We are currently trying to persuade the Gent waterways to give us a permanent mooring although this doesn't sound hopeful.
Even though the boat is pretty much finished, with 3 bedrooms, 2500w solar power and and solar hot water we would still like some help. We want to paint the outside again and sand and varnish the windows, plus Adam needs to change the engine once lockdown lifts. As long as your a fit and willing to get down on your knees with us then the off time is pretty lovely. Its a very comfortable space, with oak floors and kitchen worktops and dining table made from a tree that Adam felled 5 years ago. Plus there is a paino and guitars if you are musical. And of course we are on the water in what is a very pretty and lively little city.
A bit about us: Adam and I met at a tiny festival in Northern Spain a couple of years ago and clicked on all sorts of things including our love of folk music, well-made old things and a desire to make a life for ourselves that focussed on making and building and growing the things that we need... and then we bought the boat.
We've both owned big, old hulks of metal before, Adam has converted and lived in several large vehicles including a bus, a horse box and a horse lorry - all beautifully and skillfully converted, and I had a 1950's Showman's Wagon from Belgium which I used as a dressmaking studio in London.
DIY and building projects
Creating/ Cooking family meals
Help with Eco Projects
We would really love your help in finishing our boat, in exchange we can offer you skills in decorating, carpentry, metal work, how to rig up a solar panel system, some basic mechanics etc. Adam is far more skilled than I am in these but I have learned a lot in the past 18 months and am happy to either to work alongside skilled workers or show keen learners how to take a plunge into becoming more practical.
We try to make some time for ourselves to play music and sing, make nice vegetarian food, and have a goal to learn to Rock and Roll dance, so if you're keen to do that too that could be a fun thing to do together. I have quite a lot of dance experience and would be willing to learn and teach at the same time.
We are both English and could help you with learning the language, plus I'm actively trying to improve my french at the moment, so if you are also trying to learn we could learn together.
Currently left on our list of jobs :
Prepare and paint the all parts of the boat above the waterline.
Prepare and varnish windows.
Paint engine bay and bow locker.
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You'll have your own double bedroom and the bathroom is fully functional with bath and shower, with all water heated through solar. The living space and back deck is yours to share with us of course.
Gent is a beautiful city and you can even take the rowing boat out and explore the waterways.
Maximum 4-5 hours a day, 5 days a week
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