Le grand Projet

Our big project : Stern

At the beginning there was an advert on the net, somebody selling a boat up in Holland, somehow it was love at first sight, a 28 meters by 5 meters Tjalk, in the very north of Holland. We went there to visit the yoke, we bought it. At first there were several modifications to be done in a dutch boatyard: cutting things off, emptying everything out, building a new superstructure and everything, which took a long time (oh my god!), but finally, in september 2003 Jeremy went to go and get it, he sailed it down from Amsterdam to Paris in 10 days. Well, not really sailed it down, but motored it down...

A good bottle of Champagne was opened - of course - when it arrived at Port Sisley in Villeneuve La Garenne...

... and then ... well ... to work!!!!
We learned how to do a lot of things, taking old paint off (oh yeah..) grinding, sanding

Jeremy is learning to improvise his way along building and wood-working. He went to have a look at lots of other old boats to see how it was done there... for example ... The roof of our cabin can be taken off - for going underneath low bridges...



Then he started working on the interiour of our new home ... which is not always a lot of fun, arms falling off and everything ... untill the bits of wood are all fixed to the roof. I still remember a n incredibly stiff neck that lasted for weeks after having painted the roof inside... looking up all the time ...


Jeremy is getting more and more perfectionnist in wood-work ... our neighbours are watching with big eyes, they are even getting more and more jealous!


When it started to get too cold to work outside Jeremy started to work on the interior (while I had a lot of work at the Circus... don't you dare think I did not do anything at all... ;o)... So ... he started to build the separation-walls. Here you can see Jeremy looking through the wall of our guest-room, and you can already see the little corridor leading to our bed-room and the bath-room. On the right hand side - the loo - with a big bulls-eye... that might be there on purpose... ;o)


Jeremy sticks rock wool up onto the roof - with some awful black and disgusting glue, that sticks for ever wherever it sticks... And then he fixes another layor of more modern insulation on, made out of aluminium and air-bubbles between the sheets of aluminium ... making the boat look more and more 'spacey'!


One nice february-morning we woke up, the boat underneath a nice and soft cover of fresh and white snow! :o)


While the snow is falling outside Jeremy is cutting some chipboard to cover the inside of the rooms, onto which he's fixing thin sheets of medium to give a nice inside finish. All over sudden the walls look very clean! ... but only the walls! Look at all the mess in the middle .....


Now we had to decide where we would like to have our lamps, the light-switches and the plugs! Difficult - isn't it?


Mai 2005 Finally! Finally we're starting to work on the finishing details!

We had to decide about our roof: Which wood to choose? Some simple pine? Or some other wood? We really wanted something nicer, something more noble and exotic ... in some orange-red shade if possible... but what could we find that would not cost a fortune? Or just whatever wood and paint it white?

The solution was waiting for us in a shop near here called Leroy Merlin! Wood called 'Bankirai' and made for to go into bathrooms. Perfect! Not only for the bathroom but for everywhere on our boat! Once oiled the natural colours of the wood come out in different shades, the whole thing melting into a nice and worm mosaic of wood, brownishorangishred... only disturbed ... no, not disturbed but decorated by brass screws.


June and july 2005. The roof inside is finished and Jeremy is sticking and screwing up the sheets of medium. Our rooms are getting cleaner and brighter all over sudden.


And then .... the big moment has come to paint the whole thing! One undercoat and three layors of white satin paint to obtain a nice contrast to the wood of our windows and the roof.

"You're gonna have fun painting all that!" Jeremy said to me slightly teasingly... so, I banned Jeremy, I put on some harp-music, very loudly, insense for the 'zen ambiance' and especially against the odeur of the paint - and - last but not least - some chocolate!!!


Everybody his task ... the painting was for me - now Jeremy - back to work to put up the electricity, the plugs and switches.


Our first lamps (nice and old lamps - thanks to ebay!) are fixed to the roof and the walls of our living-room, our first painting - an oil-painting I found at the jumble-sale.


The next big thing to do was the parquet floor. Lots of thin bits of wood (25cmx5) that I stuck to the floor one by one. Then we rented a professional sanding-machine with which Jeremy sanded our floor nice and smooth... and then... another hesitation about how to tint the whole lot. Our friends and family, everybody told us not to do a dark floor - for example mahogany-coloured. And us, we just did it. Without deciding from the head, only what seemed right to us. The result is a mahogany-coloured dark floor... :o) ... and what we think is the best ... you would not say it's new ... it looks like an old floor redone! :o)


Now we can start moving in - or at least putting a few of our things in already, into our 'Stern'. A wood-heater to give a nice and cosy heat and a warm flame in our sitting-room and a big bed - nice and comfortable 140cm x 200cm (oh yes!)


Sunday october 16th 2005 - we're off! Motoring round the island with a couple of friends on board, a really nice, sunny and merry ballade on the river.... for not going very far, but that doesn't matter, we were navigating, that's the most important ... to go to the boat-yard.


Monday october 17th - our boat 'Stern' is taken out of the water to solve a couple of problems with the steering, the rudder had been hurt and bent by something ... okay ... that we knew before, that's why we went to the boatyard and also that we wanted some of the anodes of our hull to be replaced ... but then we found out that a rope had got caught in our propellor-shaft, it had loosened the propeller and the whole thing could have been very dangerous if the propeller had come off while motoring, for example... Thank god we went there and the problem was found out...


Our 'Stern' did not stay long in the boatyard, already one week later the boat was brought back, after Jeremy had cleaned and painted the underneath with tar... and now we are waiting for the insurance to tell us how much they would help us to pay the sum... in order to get our boat repaired.

March 2006 - The insurance finally has decided to pay something, the boatyard is starting to make a new rudder and build a new propellor-Shaft. Soon, hopefully soon we can get the repairs done and our boat will be able to motor again.

April 2006 - we are still waiting and Jeremy is working on the inside, he's building the doors of our cupboards ... storage oh great! ... under supervision of our big master ... our little tiger who's called Uisce. He actually thinks it's his boat and we're only his servants...:

Here you can see the sliding doors of our new cupboards and the book-shelf on top. Nice and classical style, but - at the same time ... does not look new either! :o)



Summer 2006 - we are working a lot and traveling all over Europe ... no time to work on the boat ... but .... we can show you a picture of our livingroom in the meantime ...

... It's changed a bit, hasn't it? ;o)


October 2006 - Our 'Stern' is going to de boatyard to get the repairs done - finally!

The boat was taken out of the water, Jeremy cleaned the whole underneath of the boat and painted it with tar and hat lots of chats and drinks with the workers of the boatyard and all the friends who came to have a look. Here, talking to Jean Alain, they must have talked about the cost of the repair ... seen Jeremy's enthusiastic expression ...



We must say, they boatyard did a good job! The old rudder got replaced by a new 'fishy-shaped'-one, created and built almost in front of our eyes at the boatyard by the skilled workers, much smaller, much lighter but much more efficiant and - much prettier! :o)


After only a week we could go back into the water and sail back home ... well ... not directly ... we went cruising to try out our new rudder first.



From summer to winter 2006 we've worked a lot doing our shows, we've travelled a lot, I had little health problems that needed to be resolved, and Jeremy tried to work as much as possible, thinking about the bill from the boatyard after the repairs they had done to our boat. Ouch! ... so... we did not have a lot of time to work at home on our 'Stern'.

But we could manage a little bit of work between our contracts and travels, to make our boat more comfortable and livable - we bought a new staircase (much mor comfortable!!!) and we startet to work on our kitchen!



By chance we found a great wooden work-surface and bought it straight away, not even knowing what our kitchen would look like exactly ... then we bought some inside-boxes for our furniture from a big swedish shop ... I guess you know which one ...

And then Jeremy started to round things off!




November 2006 - I found the cooker of my dreams!!!

After some difficulty to find a gas-version of this cooker and get it to france it finally arrived here and thanks to our helpful neighbours it made its way into our kitchen!

A big 'thank you' to 'Falcon'-France to have made it possible for us to have now a wonderful 'Rangemaster'-cooker in blue with brass!


The oil needed to be put onto the work-surface ... i can't remember how many layors ... five or six ...

... and here's a picture of us two happy-bunnies ... happy to see things advancing!


So happy that we immediately started cooking on our new cooker - and celebrating with some wine out of our brand-new wine-rack!


January 2007 - our computer has come on board!


Jeremy is continuing to work on the plumbing and thanks to a very generous christmaspresent from my granny we bought a great washing-mashin with an integrated dryer.

Not to forget something really important ... actually the first thing we pluged into the new plumbing-system ... our new loo! :o)



In the kitchen there was something very important missing still, for doing the washing up - the water!!!

For the moment it is only cold water, but that's already something!


Tap tap tap ... Sabine's sticking on the tiles in the kitchen. Looks nice, doesn't it?


A couple of navigating-pictures! The boat has changed colour!


2007 Jeremy continues building the kitchen - everything in oak - made from scratch - he built everything himsel! Sabine can't help a lot ... she's oiling the surfaces and she's attaching the ceramic handles. :o)

Finally we have a vitrine of our Herend-potery! And - what made us feel really grown-up - we have now a dish-washer!


2007 The bathroom is advancing. It wasn't that easy to put up the tiles - nothing is really straight on our boat. But we love the brass shower-bits ... that we found in Vienna! :o)



2008/2009 Jeremy installed the central heating-system! It's constantly warm now on our boat! :o)



From oak and sipo-wood Jeremy built those lovely doors. the loo-door is still missing.



2010 - The back-cabin is being attacked. Welded shut and insulated, then came the difficult task of covering the inside. Nothing is straight, nothing is parallel, no 45° angles anywhere!



Winter 2010 - Jeremy's doing up the captain's cabin. Nice and bright.