The story of that inspection was documented in my book Watery Ways. It resulted in a week of heroic hard work, help and goodwill that I will never forget (once again - thank you so much especially to Philip, but also to Frits, Joram, Peter and Koos, not to mention all the other wonderful souls who mucked in to help). Five years later, I had another inspection, and barring a few minor patches, nothing of any significance was needed. Between 2002 and now, I have had the Vereeniging out of the water every two years to clean and re-black the hull, always careful to have anything that looked suspect repaired, so this year, when a further inspection was due, I wasn't too worried. I have looked after my little barge with what amounts to tenderness and a lot of love.
Last Monday, we moved the Vereeniging from our mooring to the 'helling' (the slipway). The inspector came on Tuesday, and after his usual bashing, only two small plates on the 'kimmen' were needed - these being the curved parts along each side of the barge that come between the straight sides and the flat bottom and are particularly vulnerable to 'thinning'. Despite my anxiety over certain other parts of the bottom, the inspector proclaimed that the Vereeniging was extremely fit for her 114 years of age. The rest of the week since then has been the usual exhausting, but satisfying blur of painting as many coats of tar substitute on the bottom as it will take, while working around Daan, our brilliant welding craftsman as he bent and shaped the patches that he then attached with supreme neatness and precision to the hull.
However, this 'helling beurt' marks the fact that other things have changed too. In a sense, the inspection was something of a handing over. I am no longer living on the Vereeniging. My daughter Jodie has moved on board and is set to take it over for the longer term. This 'keuring', as the inspection is called, was also to ensure that everything was in a fit and healthy condition for her to assume responsibility. This is hard for me, as you might imagine, but many things have occurred over the past twelve months that make it the practical and sensible solution for all of us - and Koos and I still have the Henny Ha...(see previous post). The long (or the short) of it is that Jodie has the best part of a year to decide if she really wants to pursue this life, and part of that is winter - a testing time.
You could call this a sort of baptism for her - just as it was for me ten years ago. I wonder if she will write a book about it too...