Thursday, May 23, 2013

Taking Leave of the Luxor

As many of my long term blog friends know, I met my partner Koos here in the Oude Haven. The burgeoning of our friendship into something more serious is also recorded in Watery Ways, my book. But, I should warn anyone who hasn't read it that this is no romantic account, I'm afraid. If that's what you're looking for you'll be sadly disappointed. As I recall, I think all I manage to say on the subject is "Koos and I are officially an item" - discretion being the better part of life in a very small community, especially one where I write about a number of the residents. Luckily, they all know and approve, and, I think (or hope) rather like the idea they have been included.

When I met Koos, he had a lovely tugboat called the Loeki. In fact, he was often known as Koos Loeki in the old days. However, at the time of my arrival in the harbour, he had already bought a new barge which was to be his project over the next few years. This one was called the Luxor, and it also plays quite a starring role in my book.

That was all ten years ago, though. Things have changed - as they do - and Koos finally decided to sell his Luxor, one of the main reasons being he was spending more time with me on the Vereeniging and at the cottage in Zeeland than he was on his own barge.

It took a while to sell probably because the Luxor is different from other barges, so is not what most people are looking for. It is actually a dumb barge, which Koos cleverly built up to look as if it is is loaded, but the "load" disguises a substantial living area. It isn't your standard beautiful Dutch tjalk or luxemotor, though, so it takes a bit of imagination to see its beauty and potential. The hull is lovely, but the rest looks…well… a little plain.

As a do-it-yourself harbour, the work is hard.
Sometimes, this is the only place to have a rest - well guarded of course

Anyway, I digress. A few months ago, a young couple showed genuine interest and decided to buy it. It took some time for the negotiations and decisions to be made, but finally, this last weekend, it all happened and the Luxor had to go on the slipway, our helling, for the dreaded insurance inspection. 

Waiting to leave the helling
Luckily, it passed muster; the bottom was pronounced good except for a strip along the waterline at the bows which had to be repaired urgently due to someone…ahem... sticking their hammer through it (there were a few nervous and uneasy moments about that, I can say) and an area underneath that will be doubled in the summer as that wasn't urgent.

Leaving the helling
Then the new owners set about painting the bottom, while Koos and I started the major clearout, helped by the noble efforts of my wonderful daughters (thank you, Jo and Mo!). In the early days, things used to get lost regularly inside the barge, and it became affectionately known as the Luxor Triangle. Amazingly, none of those things turned up in the clearout, so we still don't know what happened to them (Bermuda here we come!). It took us two days of back-breaking work and soul-searching agony to determine what was to stay and what had to go. In the end we had to be ruthless and just chuck. The regrets will undoubtedly come later.

What about now, though? We have mixed feelings of course. Koos is relieved it is off his back, but sad too as it was his dream project. It was also where we spent many of our early 'together' days. As for me, I was very fond of the Luxor, so I have quite some pangs about seeing it go. On the other hand, I am looking forward to seeing what the new owners do with it because it's not going far. As a historic barge (b.1925), it will stay in the harbour, and may even end up lying next to the Vereeniging again!

The Wijnhaven looking towards the Helling.
You can see the Luxor on the slipway in the distance.


  1. This is a fascinating post and one that just hints at the very delicate feelings involved in saying goodbye. The whole process of buying and selling boats is, I guess, fraught with red tape and challenge; that alone would daunt me. As for disposing of the things which have become a firm part of everyday life, that I do know to be a very emotional experience. At least you both have obvious commonsense to compensate a bit. Interesting how those missing things failed to materialise; there could be a short story in that!

  2. Two boats!!!! And some of us don't even have one!! I love reading your blogs --especially I love the pictures of your life. MUST come and visit!!!!!

  3. Christina, the red tape isn't so bad, but the insurance inspection is nerve wracking. There is always something to be done on boats of this age, but you never know what it will be. It has to be done every six years. Most of us take put our boats on the slipway every two to three years for a scrape and paint, but the inspection is very stressful. My first was on the Vereeniging was dreadful. I like the idea about a short story for the Luxor Triangle!

    Carol, yes! We had his and hers for a long time :-) But the Vereeniging stays. All the while I can still get in and out of the hatch, anyway!

    Suze, nothing more drastic. As I said to Carol, the Vereeniging stays; Jo is looking for her own boat now and as soon as she's found one, I'm moving the Vereeniging to the Haringvliet where it's a bit more peaceful. I intend to keep it for sure! One day, my ship and I are going to France - with Koos too, of course!

  4. It's tough passing on something you love.
    How neat to read of koos and yours "early" years.
    I love the dog guarding photo

  5. Great post, Val - to think we can get fits of the vapours trying to move house!

  6. So lovely to see you here again, Grace! I'm glad you enjoyed the post and of course, the dogs :-)

    Thanks, Jo. Moving ships is quite a performance it's true, but not half as bad as moving house. It's just the insurance inspection that's terrifying :-)

  7. It sounds a lot like moving house. Even the houses that I haven't loved very much find me crying when the time comes to pack up and move on.

  8. When you refit a boat you put so much of yourself in to it, that it becomes more than just a boat. Parting with it brings strong emotions and you hope that the new owners will love and look after it just as you have. I dread the day that we will have to sell our yacht, Carpe Diem. She has looked after us in many a rough sea and has been our home for he last two years. But the day of parting is fast approaching :(

  9. I have never experienced any sorrow at leaving a home, regardless of it's size. In my mind there are two expressions, one is 'On to bigger and better' and the other is 'Into something small and cozy'
    Life's new abodes are always an adventure!

  10. I always find your posts so interesting Val because boats and waterways are things I know nothing about,my husband would just love to live on a boat and take it somewhere different everyday. I really must get your book.

  11. Ros, you always make me smile. I have not cried over many houses, but I did cry about leaving South Africa, and also about leaving Brussels. I become fond of places rather than the abodes themselves, but we will miss the Luxor. It had a big place in our beginnings and a boat - well, it's a living thing in a way.

    Fran, I can so well imagine how you will feel. Your Carpe Diem has meant so much to you. I shall come over and give you a big hug!

    Mel, you have a good point. I love the excitement of something new!

    Anne, I think you would love it too. Living on the water is something very special. It is a parallel world and so peaceful. I am busy writing the next book now :-)

  12. Dear Val, I have been reading your posts and going through your photos for the past hour . . . I am intrigued with your lifestyle. I have always loved the water and I can not think of anything sweeter than living on it.
    My husband and I are land dwellers, but have always had a boat. At the present time we are restoring a small wooden sailboat and hope to have her in the water some time soon. Those photos of your insurance inspection . . . wow . . . we are pondering over how to jack our little boat up, just to paint the bottom and inspect and install a new cable to the keel. After looking at the size of your barge, our little problem of getting under our boat seems pretty minor :)
    I hope that you don't mind me tagging along on your adventure . . . I am your newest follower.
    Best wishes,
    Connie :)

  13. Great post as usual Val! I certainly covet your lifestyle on the water.

  14. Connie, you are very welcome. I wish I spent more time out on the waterways and less of it landlocked, but my time will come. I dream of France…

    Chris, thank you! I am very conscious of my good fortune. It's a privilege to have had this life and this experience.

  15. For some reason, I always imagined the Luxor being a solid fixture in yours and Koos' lives. Having read all your stories and blog posts, I've learned to feel close to this barge and have a startling sense of sadness upon hearing of the sale.
    However, as I've discovered, you and Koos do nothing without good purpose and you always emerge on the upside with smiles!
    ... and you will be able to glance over, what passes for rooftops in the harbour, and see the Luxor cared-for and still moored in the neighbourhood!
    Hugs to both you and Koos!


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