East London London UK
Vrouwe Cornelia is a unique double berth Dutch Tjalk built in Groningen in 1908, recently renovated and adapted for low impact off-grid living. The lateral curves of her original riveted hull have been preserved and the majority of the steel below the water line has been replaced. A beautiful hybrid encompassing early twentieth century ship design and contemporary structural, ecological and aesthetic integrity.
Cornelia has been my home for nearly ten years and since 2014 has undergone a complete renovation of the hull and superstructure, starting in 2015 with a new 6mm steel baseplate running the full width of the flat hull base from stern to bow, laid over new structural ribs. NB: the old corroded steel of the hull was completely removed and replaced rather than overplated. The hull was then coated with a 10 year two-part epoxy coating and sacrificial anodes.
In 2021 the roof of snug and galley was extended forward over the bow and raised by two feet to allow for six foot head room and double glazed windows, brass portholes and a large window overlooking the bow deck and garden were built in to the new space. The bedroom air draft / height averages 5.6' and ample storage is provided beneath the bow deck and stern in addition to shelving in the gunnels and fitted bookshelves in the snug.
The bright, open plan living space is finished in walnut, oak and birch flooring and fitted with custom built furniture. The boat has been rewired, replumbed and relined. She has two 250W solar panels (total 500W), (the third was recently damaged in a storm and I'm about to replace it) ... two MCCT charge controllers and a powerful 2000W Mastervolt inverter which provides 12V or 240V power, sustains everything from domestic appliances to power tools and enables off grid energy independence all year round. The inverter is equipped with 16A plugs and cables, and can also be plugged into shore power.
A 100 HP Daf 575 engine has powered navigation of both coastal and inland waters, serviced last year with an oil change, new filters (fuel + oil ), exhaust system, steering transmission and starter battery (2022). A new propeller shaft coupling was fitted in 2018. An inspection hatch is located at the lowest segment of the bilge in front of the engine bay.
The boat has a marine helm and folding mahogany wheelhouse; versatile extra space which has served at different points as a study, workshop and spare bedroom. It can be lowered by two people in ten to fifteen minutes, allowing navigation under low bridges.
Two new leisure batteries and three new Whale pumps were installed in 2022 and a solid fuel / wood stove heats the boat during winter months. There is a shower and compost loo, hot water is provided by a Paloma gas boiler and there's a five ring gas hob and 12V fridge freezer in the kitchen.
Boat safety certificate valid until 2026.
In the last ten years Vrouwe Cornelia has navigated the London network, River Lea, Stort, tidal and upper Thames, Gloucester Ship Canal, Severn Estuary, Bristol Channel, River Avon and Kennet and Avon. She's a swift, reliable vessel and has managed heavy weather, open coastal water, challenging conditions, and continuous cruising up to twelve hours a day both accompanied and solo.
Cosy and warm in winter, bright and open in summer and an incredible natural observatory! I've watched electric blue kingfishers flash past the galley, found ducklings on the gunnels and herons, pike, swans, horses and mink outside the kitchen window. We've navigated through water lilies, bullrushes, irises, willows and balsam, ancient woodland, industrial wasteland, glassy trout streams, rolling fields with chalk carvings and crop circles and over 18th century aqueducts. My first long journey with Cornelia began on the Gloucester Ship canal, followed shortly a crossing of the Bristol Channel in rolling swell with waves breaking over the deck. We've navigated the tidal and upper Thames, swimming alongside between turns at the helm, and ploughed through twenty millimetre sheet ice on the Regent's Canal last winter. I've fished from the kitchen window, eaten vegetables grown on the roof, watched dragonflies, butterflies, bees and robins from the desk overlooking the bow garden and seen bats and shooting stars from the roof.
Vrouwe Cornelia is a wonderful vessel and home, I hope her next keepers enjoy life with her as much as I have.
|Vessel type:||Dutch Barge; Tjalk|
|Fit Out:||Open plan|
|No. of engines:||1|
|Engine model:||DAF 575|
|Drive type:||Shaft drive|
|Length over all:||49'|
|Maximum draft:||2' 6"|
|Bridge clearance:||8' 66"|
|Displacement:||29 metric tons|
|Fuel capacity:||200 Litres|
|Water capacity:||460 Litres|
Comfortable double berth with custom built steel frame, concealed shelving in the gunnel space and incredible views across the water.
Vrouwe Cornelia's riveted steel hull was built in 1908, records at the Bodleian library describe vessels of almost identical dimension, date and design with simple rigged superstructures and open sections which could be easily loaded with cargo such as sand and peat to be moved out onto larger ships too deep-keeled to navigate inland. There are records of some Tjalks being adapted for use by tradespeople who made their living doing domestic repairs and metal work. Tjalks were working boats and their designs varied according to use. The main steel superstructure was welded into place in the early 70's, the stern fitted with a marinised DAF 575, helm and propellor and she was rigged again- this time with two masts, sails, windlass and anchor. By the time I bought her in 2014 what remained of the rigging and mast stands had fallen into irretrievable disrepair so I removed what was left in the renovation process.
In 2015-2016 a new 6mm baseplate was fitted, running from stern to bow. The existing corroded baseplate and ribs were removed and the new plates were laid over new horizontal ribs. The hull was then coated with a 10 year two-part epoxy coating and sacrificial anodes.
Most of the superstructure was low, dark and partitioned with no standing space- 4.5 foot in some areas. The roof has been raised to allow for an average of 6 foot standing space in the galley and snug around which five large custom built double glazed windows, six brass portholes and a double glazed skylight flood the space with natural light. The new structure is built in 4mm welded mild steel laid over rectangular box section steel framing.
100 HP DAF 575 Diesel engine
Boat safety certificate valid until 2026, fully checked; fire extinguishers and blankets throughout. Smoke and CO alarms.
Note: Indicated location is approximate general area only.