Thursday, 1 January 2015

Good Boat Hunting - October 2013 to March 2014.

Happy New Year and best wishes for a healthy and fun-filled 2015!

Almost exactly one year ago today we decided that we should buy a boat and start enjoying waterway lifestyles for longer than the one or two weeks which we had done previously.

What type of boat was the next question. A couple of lines from Philip Bristow’s book Through the French Canals stuck in my mind: “When you plan on boating in retirement you must plan for comfort first of all. Make sure you have a superb kitchen and dining area, a comfortable bedroom, toilet and shower and then – and only then – can you start deciding how much performance and paraphernalia you can wrap around that”. So after having read many blogs and scoured the internet for information and boats, we came up with the following criteria for the boat we wanted to buy:

Cost less than 65,000 Euros (originally our budget was €90,000 but while we were researching and looking, the South African Rand did one of its occasional whoopsies and fell from R10.50/€1.00 to R15.00/€1.00).
12m/40’ waterline length excluding swim platform.
Max 3.9m beam (probably minimum 3.6m)
Max 2.75m air draft
Max 1.2m draft
Min 1.82m headroom in master cabin.
Steel deck.
‘French’ bed in main (i.e. can get out of both sides of the bed).
2x shower/toilet. A rarity on Dutch canal cruisers!
‘Black’ water holding tank.
Shore power.
4 burner hob plus oven (most Dutch boats have no oven!).
100hp main engine – preferably one engine and preferably not a DAF with the problems the company is having.
Cruising speed +/-7 knots, max speed +/-8 knots.
3lt/4lt per hour diesel consumption cruising.
Bow thruster.
VHF radio with ATIS and DSC.
Dual steering positions.
Side doors to main saloon from outside.
Stainless steel railings.
Full bimini.

I am fortunate to have a brother-in-law who has been around boats his whole life and at the outset he gave me the following valuable advice:

Don’t rule out ex charter boats.  Sometimes charter fleets are better maintained than private boats,  maybe more hours but broken parts get replaced and charter companies have a full experienced maintenance crew.

I would go for a steel boat.  Any bad rust will be discovered in a survey.  They also do thickness tests with a special sensor. On the narrow boats they made the bottoms very thick as they would wear down from rubbing on the sand.  They don't rust much in fresh water canals.  The worst place for rust is inside in the bilge because it is difficult to clean and paint properly.  Outside rust is from exposed scratches and easy to see and treat.  If it is in good nick to start it will last for years.   On canals you might rub on the bottom or on the side of a bank when mooring to the bank in the middle of nowhere.   Fiberglass doesnt like this at all.  Fiberglass doesn't rust and can polish up to be nice and shiny but as it gets older it can start to get gelcoat cracks and then needs painting and is the same work as steel to keep looking nice.  Steel is also much better when you have an OOPSIE DOOPSIE when entering a concrete lock with sharp edges and a gale blowing after too much wine.  Makes a big BONG and only the pride and paint is hurt.  Don't buy a boat with a steel deck that is covered with teak.  It can rust underneath and is difficult to see and treat.  Good old paint is best.

Finally, a shortlist of five boats was arrived at

-          An International 118 called ‘Albatros' from Schepenkring / Krekelberg Nautic  

-          An  Almkruiser 1250 AK 'Paladijn' from Barat Jachtbemiddeling

-          A Valkkruiser 12 'Victory' from Botentekoop

-          A Vetus 1270 from Het Wakend Oog Jachtmakelaars

-          A De Ruiter Kruiser 1225 ‘Cindy’ from Het Wakend Oog Jachtmakelaars

Brother-in-law Ian kindly offered to fly in from Faial in the Azores where he lives to look at these boats, which he did on 7 February 2014. After a week of very cold weather spent crawling around bilges, inspecting engines and seeing some real rubbish he called me to advise that, in his opinion (which we trust implicitly), the De Ruiter Kruiser was the one to go for.  It differed quite a lot from our ‘ideal’ boat: Twin engine, one toilet/shower, no holding tank, no side doors and mild steel railings but most of the blocks had been ticked.

The brokers drew up a Sale Agreement which was accepted by the Seller subject to survey.

On one of the blogs I had been reading a surveyor named Mr T.J. van Rijswijk ( ) had been recommended and arrangements were duly made for him to survey the boat on 10 March 2014 - his charge was a very reasonable €850 including VAT. We decided that if we could get a Schengen visa in time, we would be in Woudsend on the 10th – the Netherlands Consulate were absolutely fantastic and we had a 12 month visa within a week of applying. And so it was off to the Netherlands on 6 March and the rest is history!


Broker Willem Wielenga with pensive Seller.

Lift out.

Surveyor Theo van Rijswijk doing his thing.

Proud Dad

Sea Trials

Toasting the deal.
Sincere thanks to:

- Brother-in-law Ian Carter for all his input, support and for finding us such a lovely boat.

- Albert-Jan Kok and Willem Wielenga of Het Wakend Oog Jachtmakelaars for their very professional assistance and for subsequently putting up with my millions of requests.

- Surveyor Theo van Rijswijk for a thoroughly professional survey, detailed feedback to the Seller and ourselves at the end of the day, and emailing a 20 page, detailed report by midnight the same day. Extraordinary!

- All those boat owners whose blogs gave us so much inspiration and information.


  1. Good set of requirements. Enough to get something you want, not too much to restrict your choices. Ours were a bit more stringent, and choice seemed more limited, but like you - very happy with the outcome!