April 2011 - The Netherlands
A quick trip to Holland
to check out Dutch cruisers...
Dutch steel charter cruisers lined up on the river Vecht in the scenic little town of Loenen aan de Vecht near Loosdrecht.
After some deliberation over the past several months,
we failed to reach agreement on our proposed French
Canal Boat Partnership. (We did actually get as far as
making an offer on a 13-m Euroclassic Barge, but our
offer was not accepted and, with only three viable
partners, we decided not to proceed any further.
Somewhat impulsively, Nancy & I decided to take a
short trip to Holland to see for ourselves what kind of
boats might be available over there. There's little doubt
that The Netherlands is one of the best places to search
for a boat. The choices are plentiful, boats are well
maintained and prices are lower than in France or England.
There is a remarkable similarity among Dutch cruisers! This is a fleet of charter boats in Sneek up in Friesland.
It was certainly a fun trip, we saw hundreds of boats and went aboard over twenty! We did find several boats
well suited to our needs, many that we could have bought for under $100,000 USD. (At present, the value of the
Euro is very high against the US dollar, somewhere around $1.40, so it's a tough environment for American
buyers. On the other hand, the economic downturn has affected Europe much as it has here, so prices are
generally down. Boat brokers were quick to remind us that it was a Buyer's Market!)
Nancy found a great little Bed & Breakfast
(online) named Landhuis Logies Ouderhoek in
Nieuwersluis, a very small town on the river
Vecht about 20 minutes drive from Amsterdam's
Schiphol airport. (We flew non-stop from Miami
on KLM - 8 hours.) Our room was perfect, and
the Dutch breakfast they served was big enough
to make lunch as well. This little B & B turned
out to be one of the high points of our trip -
Our room at Landhuis Logies Ouderhoek - perfect!
A typical Dutch cruiser, but one we really liked! This boat is fully equipped for French canal cruising and could probably
be bought for about $100,000 USD. (You can see the listing at: www.apolloduck.com/feature.phtml?id=132131)
Spring, tulip season, in Holland. At the Keukenhof Gardens.
An outdoor Dutch dinner in Elburg, Overijssel, NL
Only 5 minutes from the A-2 Autoroute, this
spot made a great base for our search - no part
of The Netherlands is more than a 2-hour drive
Our conclusion, however (at least for the moment), is that it doesn't really make a lot of sense for us to own
another boat - one that we would likely use only 8 weeks per year. Beyond the purchase price, there's insurance,
maintenance, storage, etc - not to mention the time required to oversee all this from another country. Prices for
Americans are high in Europe right now, gas for our rental car cost over $8.00 per gallon!
We would still like to find a way to do this, but we're thinking the shared cost and responsibility of a
partnership really does make more sense. We are still hopeful that we will be able to put together a group who
are as enthusiastic about this project as we are, and so be able to share the costs and responsibilities of ownership.
PS: We have hundreds of photos and lots of information on Dutch cruisers, particularly in the
$50,000 to $100,000 range. If you're interested, let me know - I'd be happy to share.
Now, here's my idea of the perfect Canal Boat! 57-ft Cruising Barge "IDA" is based on a Dutch replica
Luxemotor hull. Instead of the traditional wooden folding pilothouse, she has inside and outside steering.
This pretty boat was designed to meet the requirements of the Irish inland waterways, but she would be
equally at home in the smallest French canals. Plus, she has the capability to cross the Channel on her own
bottom. Perhaps, with the right group of partners, we could afford a European Cruising Barge like this!
Not quite as elegant as the cruising barge above, but pretty darn nice nevertheless! These 55-ft Nivernais Replica
Dutch Barges are built by Piper Boats in the UK. They feature fold-down wheelhouses and an open aft deck for
outdoor socializing. The drawback to this layout is that the sleeping accommodations must be located forward, so
you need a longer boat for the same inside space. These boats utilize a classic Dutch Luxmotor style hull which
allows them to run efficiently and economically with a small engine. Also they're built to British RCD Category
"C" meaning they are seaworthy enough to handle 6-ft seas and Force 6 winds - aka a "strong breeze"!