Having a Serious Look

2-24 September 2010

Once I got home to Taggerty, I continued Googling. From someone who didn’t know what a barge looked like at the start of August, by mid-September I could bore friends witless with my accumulated shallow knowledge of all things barging.

I got lots of this knowledge from two sources. I discovered the Dutch Barge Association (DBA) on the web (www.barges.org), and devoured previous postings on their Forum to get up to scratch on lots of the basics. I also found a variety of paper and electronic books on barging, and became a frequent customer of Amazon.

After lots of web-searching, I eventually set my heart on a 100-year old dutch barge by the name of “Quo Vadis”.

I later discovered another barge called Quo Vadis, but the one I liked was a Tjalk (my growing vocabulary impressed everyone, or so I thought), was 21m long, was green and was for sale. One of the things I liked about Quo Vadis was, while it didn’t have a rear deck, it had a big deck on top of the cabin. This was very useful when talking to Rita and explaining how good this would be for cruising through towns with a small steel pan combo playing on the deck.

I emailed back and forth with the American owner who was on Quo Vadis in Roanne for the coming winter, and even went as far as tentatively arranging for a hull inspection before the winter closed the canals in that region.

At about this time, I also found two songs from Michael Buble that seemed to describe me at that moment. “Call me Irresponsible” seemed to sum up how I felt others would think of me, while “All I Do is Dream of You” seemed to encapsulate my relationship with barges and ApolloDuck! The album title, “Crazy Love”, was also apt.

All I do is Dream of You

25 September – 2 October 2010

However, at the same time I was in correspondence with an experienced barge surveyor (Balliol Fowden) who I had found making frequent erudite contributions to the DBA Forum. His words of advice, provided entirely free of charge, were salutary. He reminded me that the First Rule of Barge Buying was not to “set your heart” on the first one that takes your fancy (as I had done with Quo Vadis). He also had some honest appraisals of barges such as Quo Vadis, and advised me to look at other styles and vintages. As I was considering his advice, the situation was taken out of my control when I got an email from the owner of Quo Vadis saying he had just sold it to another Australian! So, that was settled.

I then started looking at a variety of other styles, sizes and vintages. Ave Sol II was a very neat little 16.5m Tjalk immaculately presented in brown and gold (how could you go wrong with such colours – Go Hawks!). But its layout in the wheelhouse didn’t really appeal.

Harmonie II was a much larger barge that I had seen lots of on the web. It even had spud poles (go look it up!). But at 26m, it was just too large, and a bit too costly.

I even contacted the owners of Berendina just to satisfy my curiosity!

One of the points made by Balliol was that while the olde dutch barges have great character and appearance, the quality of the conversion from a commercial freight barge into a cruising pleasure barge often left lots to be desired, and could be a money magnet, especially for a first-time owner who had neither the time nor the experience to do a lot of the mechanical and repair work themselves. Since this described us perfectly, I listened. He suggested that I also consider a new or near-new “Replica Dutch Barge” as a first purchase. If, after gaining several years of experience, I wanted to “upgrade” to an older and/or bigger barge, then at least I would be doing it with my eyes open.