Barging Housekeeping

Ten Years On

Middenmeer – [lots in between] – Migennes

It’s now about ten years since we started this alternative lifestyle. However, it’s a challenge to work out when to have the celebration – and we must have a celebration!

We can dig up plenty of statistics but the easiest is the journey. Over the ten years of ownership and eight years of cruising (two lost to COVID, of course) we have travelled around 5,700 km. It looks like this on a map (click to enlarge).

31st of August, 2014 in Middenmeer to the 29th of May, 2024 in Migennes.

To say that the cruising has been rewarding would be a gross understatement. It has provided us with a completely different life to that which we enjoy in Australia, for a big chunk of each year – not to mention having the opportunity for continuous summers!

Lacking in a statistical analysis would be the memorable moments we have had and most of all, the many, many friends we have made over this time. The community of boaters on the European waterways is undoubtedly the best part of this decade-long adventure. Some have been just delightful one-evening meetings, while others have blossomed into lasting friendships. It truly is a long village, inhabited by the most wonderful and congenial folks.

So, when to celebrate?

  • We could use the first time we saw the advert for Neo Vita – it would have been a Sunday, probably in bed, because that was when we would troll through Apollo Duck for barges. We’re not sure of what date that was, however. Sometime September-ish in 2013.
  • Or we could use the date we sent our first enquiry email to the shipbroker – that was the 4th of December 2013.
  • But things became really serious when we sent our 10% deposit. Now we were contracted to buy if the surveyor’s report was satisfactory. That happened on the 23rd of April 2014.
  • A good candidate would be when we sent the other 90% of the purchase price. That was on the 28th of May 2014.
  • We finally became the official owners when our names were placed on the Dutch Kadaster, the register of ownership. This document states that we became owners on the 11th of June 2014 – just in time to make it a big birthday present for Lisette on the 12th.

All good candidates but we’ve decided on the 29th May.

We had been conducting the business of buying Neo Vita with Jitse Doeve in the Netherlands from our house in Melbourne using Skype to have audio or video calls for anything tricky. Knowing that the money was on the way, on the 28th of May Jitse emailed, “I think that it maybe is a good plan to try and set up a Skype meeting tomorrow, if possible, so that you can see the sellers too. Let’s say between 11.00 and 11.30. How does that sound?” Of course, we agreed and told him we’d be ready and armed with a glass of wine each to celebrate. The next day, in the evening, we made the call. We started to chat with Paul and Marianne with Jitse doing the translation. Then Ian raised his glass and we announced taking possession of Neo Vita. Suddenly, Marianne disappeared off-screen. “What has happened?” we asked Jitse, “Oh, she has gone to the back of the office.” he said, “She is weeping”. We felt terrible, after all, Neo Vita had been their home for 14 years. As emotional as it was for us, it was a melancholy moment for Paul and Marianne. Now, ten years later, we can only dread the moment when it is our turn to hand Catharina Elisabeth to her next owners.

So, because of the shared emotion, gain and loss, we feel it’s appropriate to celebrate and commemorate Catharina being passed on to us on the 29th of May.

Neo Vita in 2014


Happy new European Cruisers
Catharina Elisabeth ten years on.

Thank you all for being an important part of this all these years. Hopefully, there will be many more to come.

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    15 Responses

  1. Wonderful piece and full of so much emotion – brought tears to my eyes reading it. Love to you both

    1. Lisette always quips that when we let Catharina go, we will need grief counselling – could well be.

  2. What a great adventure you both are having and l just love reading on all the great places the Catharine Elisabeth has taken you. It was such a gusty challenge you both decided to take on but looking at your photos throughout the years you are both meant to be where you are. ❤️❤️ you both

    1. Mary, it has certainly had its challenges, but the rewards are far greater and give us memories we will be revisiting over and over. Lisette

  3. Sorry about that Catharina Elisabeth love the spell check some times 😂😂

    1. How sweet of you apologise to her, Mary.

    2. No worries, happens to all of us.

  4. Lovely to be following your adventures and congratulations on this milestone. Look forward to seeing you onboard in a few weeks.

    1. We are also following your adventures Simon and will enjoy hearing more of your stories when we meet up.

  5. Well a wonderful anniversary to the three of you, Lisette, Ian and Catharina Elizabeth and wishes for many many more to come!

    Apologies for missing by two days the actual date but look forward to seeing you in June. Love Gina and Geoff

    1. And wonderful that you and Geoff have been a part of this. We’re looking forward to your next contribution!

  6. Happy Anniversary to you both and Catharina Elisabeth. You’ve had such wonderful journeys on her and hopefully, there’ll be many more to come. I understand what you mean about grief counselling. Every time I think of parting with my Vereeniging, I get terribly emotional; hence, it has happened yet. Happy cruising both of you. You’ve covered some serious miles there! xx

    1. Thanks Val. Meeting you, Koos and Jennie-Ha was one of the highlights in 2017 and, of course, would not have happened if we had not taken up cruising. It’s such a pleasure to keep reading of your exploits by blog and in your book. We hope you get some decent cruising in this year.

  7. Congrets! I am always a little “confused” about people who
    doing something what is totally different but make that step!

    I hope that your story give others the push to do this also.

    You can make 1000 of blogs but its almost not possible to put the “real” feeling on paper…..;))

    Hope to see you once,
    J-M de Wijs

    1. Sorry for the delayed reply jean-marie, it is strange where ideas come from – but it was a good one! If we can do it, really anyone can, so let us hope more will join us.

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