Vrouwe Antje is sold and now is moored in Sete, France."

Books, Calendars and greetings cards

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Date of Build:



D. Boot, Alphen a/d Rijn




20.63 metres


3.96 metres


1.10 metres, rudder 88cm,  bottom 85cm, prop 92cm

Air draft:

3.20 metres with mast down, 17.5m with mast up


1.95m except in fore-peak cabin which is 1.8m


8 tons


CF MAN 6 cylinder 160hp, 2560 hours

Bow thruster:

Kalkman electric, 2hp




6kw, diesel Silent pack JF Marine Power

Inverter 5Kw


  • Drinking water : 1200 litres
  • Diesel : 800 litres
  • Black water : 120 litres

Central heating:

Kabola Diesel stove (with back boiler) and Ebberspacher D5W heating three radiators and hot water

Hot water:

AC, Ebberspacher or Kobola


1 bottle in a locker on deck for cooking


  • Main cabin with King bed,
  • Forward with King bed and a single.
  • Saloon with double converting sofa bed


Washbasin, 90x90shower and toilet


Sink, fridge-freezer , washing machine (in forward office area), breakfast bar, gas cooker with gas hob


Open cockpit with sunshade cover


15.5m Non-counter balanced 38cm Diameter at the base




220 sq. m synthetic canvas Main and 2 headsails


5 AC and 2 manual

1 high torque AC winch-chain-drive to the forward manual winch to lift the mast and anchor.

2 AC winches for the lee-boards.

2 AC winches for the main sail.

1 manual self-tailing winch for the main sheet.

1 manual self-tailing winch for the middle headsail.

                                Vrouwe Antje's owners!

Date Owner Ship's Name Use
1902-1911 Adriana and Thomas Borst Samuel Hauled farm goods
1911-1926 Henriette and Dirk Kerkmeer Henriette Hauled sand and bricks. VrouweAntje1919.jpg (627269 bytes)
1926-1965 Annetje and Bastiaan Hijstek Annetje Crane ship and tug. VrouweAntjeHijstek.jpg (461797 bytes)
1965-1977 Jeanette and Albert Vuur Jeanette Carried fair ground equipment and live-aboard. Janneke2.jpg (67919 bytes)
1977-1983 Jan van Putten not known Live aboard. Berchum6.jpg (34036 bytes)
1983-2004 Antje and Wim Berchum Vrouwe Antje Live aboard and back to full sailing condition. Berchum1987.jpg (7239 bytes)
2004-now Jane and John Griffin Vrouwe Antje Used to sail the coast and cruise inland waterways of Europe. nl10a.jpg (19577 bytes)


Borststartbuildadd.jpg (487769 bytes)


Vrouwe Antje's History

In September of 1900 an order was placed with the ship builders "D. Boot", Alphen a/d Rijn, for a small klipper. Having a boat built by Boot was a family tradition in the Borst family.Thomas Borst's father also had his ship built there. The order was placed and had a total quote for the build of 3200 guilders. When the first plate is laid the tradition is to put an article in the local paper. The clipping on the left shows that work started on a Klipperscheepje (a small klipper) for "Th. Borst" from Zwammerdam on the 8th of March 1902. The ship was completed on the 8th of August 1902 complete with sails. Thomas paid 3200 guilders for his new ship which he named "Samuel"tba79.jpg (37003 bytes)

We do not have to much information on Thomas but what we do know is that he was born in 9-12-1873 in the small town of Nieuwkoop to Jan Borst and Elizabeth Boef. Jan and Elizabeth had 11 children although only 5 lived to marry and have children themselves. The 6 that died lived less than a year. Thomas was the first born in 1873. The last child was born and also died in 1895. 22 years of having children and only 5 to show for it. Life was very hard in those days. The mortality was generally high in the Netherlands around the 1900's but even higher amongst those working on or living near the inland waterways. The drinking, washing and cooking water all came from the same place where their sewage went, the canal.

Vrouweantjesideplanlowres.jpg (1950262 bytes)borstorder.jpg (52412 bytes)              Above: Original plans for Vrouwe Antje                           Right: Boot Work Order   

It is a bit of a guess as to what the ship was used for, although we have found some living relatives of Thomas Borst. The relatives have said they are looking up his details but so far no information has arrived.

Thomas is listed in the archive records as a skipper but these give little hint as to what he carried in his new ship. On average most of his close relatives were cheese traders and farmers although at least a quarter of the Borst males were ship's captains dating back as far as the 1620's. With this in mind there is a good chance  Thomas used the ship for carrying cheese to the markets. We have found records of some of the Borst family being in a cheese/milk co-operative. Also Thomas's brother, Hendrik, is listed as a cheese trader in some records and a skipper (schipper) in others. Hendrik was born in 1876 two years after Thomas and they would have likely worked together.

Around the end of the 1800’s there were many small butter and cheese producers. These would have been small family owned dairy farms like the Borst's. What these small cottage industries did was form co-operatives then fix the production techniques among themselves so they were producing a certain type of cheese in the required volumes for the major markets like Rotterdam and Gouda.

This leads to the next piece of evidence which he may have used our little klipper for. We have found adverts place in the local Rotterdam news paper advertising a scheduled shipping service from Rotterdam to Weesp, stopping at Muiden, Duiverdrecht, Ouderkerk, Boskoop and Waddingsveen. It states that they do removals and transport for a fare price. The advert is dated from 1908 through to 1915 placed by Th. Borst. On all of the documents we have found Thomas refers to himself as Th. In 1908 and 1915 we found adverts for a Skipper wanted. The job was for the route Rotterdam to Weesp, and placed by Th. Borst from Zwammerdam. Zwammerdam is where He and his new wife, Adriana, moved in 1900. Th. Borst expiditure1912.jpg (38894 bytes)

sckipper wanted 1908 borst.jpg (17825 bytes)We also found adverts in the newspaper for some of Thomas' relatives who carried sand, turf, and raw dung. We counted about 30 ship owners/ skippers in the immediate family. It may be more likely that the whole family carried what ever paid.

Above: 1908

Th.Borst 1915.jpg (13345 bytes)The advert on the right states that he has two shipping agents: one in Rotterdam and the other in Weesp where one could go to book freight to be carried.                         Above   1912 and 1913         The last bit of the advert says his always charges a fair shipping rate and normally under the average. borst1912.jpg (6494 bytes)

He would leave on Wednesdays at noon from Rotterdam to Weesp and start the return on Saturdays at noon. That's all we have on Thomas's      Above:  1915                                   business history.                                                                  Right:1912

Thomas's father; Jan, as the family tradition dictated was a skipper and ordered his ships from Boot Alphen a/d Rijn. The list of Borst ship owners goes on and on so Jan was as far back as we can list here. Jan ordered a Tjalk from Boot on 30-10-1892 which was completed on 05-03-1893 measuring 17.42m. This was a ship which he ordered new from Boot although he probably owned other ships?  

Thomas married Adriana de Grijs on 21-06-1900, two years before ordering his ship to be built. Adriana also came from a boating family. Her father Jan de Grijs is also listed as a skipper and lived in the village of Aarlanderveen. Aarlanderveen is quite near to Zwammerdam where they settled after marring. In 1922 we found a record of Thomas and Adriana at Thomas's mothers funeral. At that time they were living in Weesp which indicates that his shipping route from Rotterdam to Weesp was probably still running.

Adriana and Thomas had four children that we found records for: Elizabeth Borst born in 10-09-1901 and an Adriana Borst born in 1908. Elizabeth is listed in the records as being born on a ship. This implies that they owned or worked on a ship before the one Thomas had build in 1902. Their third child was born on 17-04-1912; Jan Borst, who died 09-03-66. Their forth and last was born 27-11-16; Johan Jan Borst, and died 13-01-2002. It is through Elizabeth's family that we have found living relatives. She married Jan Griffioen in 1921 who was also a skipper. Elizabeth and Jan had a daughter they named Adriana. She is still alive but until recently we had no records for Thomas Borst.

Link to the Borst Family Tree.

Thomas ordered a new ship in 1911, the same year he sold his small klipper. His new ship was a 22.64 meter luxemoter which, as the name suggests, had a motor.  The Boot records show that the plans that were used in 1911 were used again in 1916 to build another ship the same size which Thomas named "Wilhelmina". A very popular name due to queen at the time. Thomas Borst certainly had a growing business. In 1924 Thomas had "Wilhelmina 2" build. She was 27.15m x 4.81m., larger yet!

Update:Dec 2012:

We have been contacted by the grandson of Thomas Borst (also named Thomas) and given pictures of Thomas and his wife Adriana. We were told Thomas died in Weesp on 25-12-1939 and Adriana died on 06-01-1949 also in Weesp.

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The ship builder "D. Boot" of Alphen a/d Rijn who built Thomas's ships was one of several boat building yards owned by the same family, the family "Boot". The name Boot was a famous name in Dutch shipbuilding for over a century. The family also had yards in Woubrugge, Leiderdorp and Delft.

Gouwsluis in Alphen a/d Rijn where Thomas's ship was built was founded in 1851 by Philipus Boot (1824-1902). He handed over Gouwsluis to his son, Dirk Boot, in 1887. Dirk quickly switched from making ships in wood to using iron. In 1890 Gouwsluis built its first iron Tjalk. Dirk had a son names Johannes who a few years later started the engine manufacturing side of D. Boot, De Industrie. De Industrie would later play a role in Vrouwe Antje’s history as she probably had a De Industrie engine fitted in 1914/15 and definitely had one fitted later in 1929.

Gouwsluis was located on the left bank of the old Rijn (if travelling up stream) just down stream of the town centre. Gouwsluis continued building ships through WWI and WWII. The Netherlands stayed neutral during WWI. During WWI the Germans used the Netherlands as a gateway and a supply link to invade Belgium, although Belgium was also neutral. The Netherlands would have taken far too many resources for the Germans to invade as they had a very effective defence strategy. They opened the dyke and flooded their land making it almost impossible for a ground force to invade. The Dutch also had quite a sizeable fleet of inland barges with deck mounted cannons that could be used against an army stranded on some island after they had flooded the countryside.

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The same strategy was deployed during WWII but with no effect as the invasion was mainly an invasion by air. During WWII the Germans had D. Boot working to convert large barges that were seagoing for a planned invasion of England and they had De Industrie repairing German ship's engines.

Back to Vrouwe Antje, D. Boot completed Vrouwe Antje on 1st August 1902 as indicated on the work sheets and also this is the date when Th. Borst paid for the ship.

Nine years later in September 1911 after Thomas took delivery of his more modern and luxurious barge he contracted D. Boot to sell he little klipper.

This is where Dirk Kerkmeer comes in to the barge's story.  Dirk was born on 24th October 1884 at 3:30 in the morning. We were lucky enough to find in the historic archive Dirk’s original birth certificate. His parents were Cornelis Kerkmeer and Trijntje Leijen. Cornelis and Trijntje married on 6th of February 1879 and had seven children.

1. Trijntje, Born on 25-10-1879dirkkerkmeerbirthcert.jpg.jpg (292324 bytes)

2. Klaas, Born on 10-09-1881

3. Willem, Born on 09-10-1883

4. Dirk, Born on 24-10-1884 who went on to own our ship in 1911.

5. Cornelia, Born on 08-06-1886 who died age 1 on 30-06-1887

6. Cornelis, Born 04-03-1888 and died a year later as well on 18-03-1889

7. Cornelis, Born 06-06-1892 

The first five were born in Barsingerhorn and the last two were in Schagen. 

Dirk’s father, Cornelis, was born in 1845 in the municipality Zijpe in the province Noord-Holland. Cornelis died the same year work started on Vrouwe Antje, 1902( 25-06-02)

Dirk's mother's death in 1894 and then soon after with the death of his father all the children were separated and adopted by different families. Some were adopted by wealthy families that treated them well but in Dirk's case he was adopted by a family that had a merry-go-around and moved it to different events by barge. Dirk spent most of his childhood working on this barge. The barge did not have an engine so in light winds it was Dirk's job to pull the barge. On one of Dirk's birthdays he was given a new harness for pulling as a gift; a hard life!   

Dirk married Henriette Oosterman who he met at a family party on the 24th of April 1909.Dirkkerkmeer.jpg (27353 bytes) On the marriage certificate Dirk is listed as a "Landsman" which is not a farmer like you would think but someone in the army infantry as he was just finishing his military service. His military records start in 1905. In the the Netherlands at the time it was required for every male to do at least two years national service. Dirk appears to have done four years in the service by the time he married Henriette in 1909. By 1910 he was out of the service and working at a sand and brick factory "Kalkzandsteenfabriek" near Haarlem in a small town of Hillegom. Henriette at the time had a small shoe shop in the same village. Hillegom1918.jpg (185599 bytes)

With Dirk's background with barges, he and Henriette came up with idea to buy a barge and get into shipping. Dirk approached his employer and asked if he were to buy a barge would they give him a contract to haul their bricks and sand. He was given confirmation that they would and he purchased his first ship in 1911.

In 1910 they had their first child, Cornelis, and went on to have five boys: Cornelis in 1910, Huibert in 1911, Klaas in 1913, Jan in 1916 and Dirk in 1924.  

Dirk Kerkmeer pictured above.                                                                                  Kalkzandsteenfabriek above.

In 1914 Dirk received a letter to his address in Zaandam requiring him to return to service. The threat of war was becoming apparent. The Dutch military had decided to call Dirk back. Unfortunately, Dirk was working on the Noord Hollandskanaal from Den Helder to Zaandam. Being on the road it was over a month before Dirk was informed of the letter. By that time he was late rejoining. When he reported at the nearest military barracks in Amsterdam he was promptly arrested. He was court marshalled and sentenced to 3 days in jail. Three days isn't long but it couldn't have been pleasant.

Henriette2.jpg (612395 bytes)Left: Drawing of Dirks second ship. Drawing made in 1920 by Dirk's son Cornelis.

After emerging from his cell he had a chance to chat with the military officials and point out that rejoining the infantry would be a problem as he had a ship to pay for and was now a skipper. As the military needed barges and skippers to haul ammunition the suggestion seemed to have worked.  The local military officials then inspected Dirk's ship and decided that as soon as possible it was to be fitted with an engine paid for by the military. If they need ammunition somewhere that last thing they wanted to do was wait for the wind. At that same time he had an order in at Boot (Alphen) which as he was back in the military he could no longer take delivery of. This order was cancelled and Dirk had to wait 4-5 years until after the war for his new ship. The "Boot-Alphen" records show the order by Dirk but that the ship went to another owner when it was completed. By 1917 the war was showing signs of ending. It became apparent that the Netherlands had escaped the war. Dirk now put his little klipper up for sale. He had the ship based in Den Helder as he was stationed there.The advert below says "Klipper for sale in good condition". Henriette1.jpg (433043 bytes)

By 1919/20 Dirk had his new ship although we haven't found where it was built. He also named it Henriette. The family records show that Dirks first ship went back to Boot (Alphen) to be sold although it didn't sell until 1926. From 1919+- to 1926 that little klipper was moored in Alphen A/d Rijn waiting for a new owner.

VrouweAntje1919.jpg (627269 bytes)Left: Drawing made by Cornelis in 1919 of Henriette 1 about the time it went to Alphen.

An events occurred in the next few years which had a large impact on the Kerkmeer family. Huibert, the second eldest son fell overboard from one of the two barges. The canal water at the time was so dirty the he promptly contracted dysentery.The first safe antibiotics were only invented in 1945 so his dysentery proved fatal. He died on the 21st of August 1922.

By this time the family was living in Zaandam and Dirk was working on his new ship with one crew member, Nol van der Heide. Nol worked with Dirk until he lost his last ship in 1928. Nol then went on to work as crew on a ferry based in Wijk bij Duurstede on the river Lek.

Dirk purchased Henriette through Boot in 1911 and now in 1926 uses them again. This time it was Dirk Boot’s son Philippus Boot who brokered the sale.

This is a picture of Dirk, Dick, Jan and Klaas taken at their house in Houthavenkade, Zaandam in 1928/29.kerkmeerfamilyphoto2.jpg (408623 bytes) kerkmeerfamilyphoto1.jpg (455036 bytes)

On 13th January 1926, a buyer was found, a "B. Hijstek". First a pre-sales contract was drawn up listing the work to be completed before the sale could be finalised. This contract listed that the wheel steering needed repair, one wood cargo hatch needed replacing and the engine needed the prop break repaired. This would be used to stop the prop from turning when sailing or moored.

A deposit of 2000.00 guilders was paid at that point. The sale was to be completed in three weeks with the remainder of the 3525.00 payable after the work was completed. They managed to complete the work in 9 days, as on 22nd  January 1926, the sale was completed.

The photo right is (left to right) Jan, Dick, Klaas, Henriette and Dirk. 

The Hijstek family now owned the ship and renamed it "Annetje". Oddly enough Bastiaan Hijstek senior's wife was named Annetje.

HenrietteKerkmeer.jpg (19819 bytes)Left-Henriette Kerkmeer in her 60's,

Just to finish the story, Dirk Kerkmeer sold his older ship first then the other was taken by his bank by the end of 1928, as the great depression hit the shipping industry.

After losing his two ships Dirk found a job as a painter for the Zaandam council. Owning two iron ships had given him plenty of experience painting. He worked for the council until his death in 1930 dying 3 weeks before he was to be given a permanent contract and he and his family would have been entitled a pension. He died of cancer at the age of 46 on 5th December 1930 in "Ahtonie Van Leeuwemhoek Ziekenhuis", a hospital specialising in cancer treatment.

With a new name, "Annetje", the little klipper joined a new Industry. She joined an industry that ended up not being effected by the great depression of the 1930's and continued to work for the Hijstek family until 1964 although sold in 1965. She was used as a tug pulling a larger un-powered barge and a crane ship to then off-load the larger barge's cargo. 

CornelisHijstek.jpg (28746 bytes)The family shipping business started by Cornelis Hijstek (Bastiaan senior’s father) in 1910 with the placing of an order for a 20m barge. It was ordered from Dirk Boot in Alphen a/d Rijn and the ship was named "Eben Haezer". Some how the question as to what made Cornelis Hijstek want to get into shipping went unasked, but he procured a loan from a wealthy farmer and placed his order. "Eben Haezer" was completed on 15th July 1910 for a total of 6600 Guilders.

ebenhaezer01.jpg (25571 bytes)His first few years in shipping were spent hauling what ever he could find. At first this was cow dung to be used for fertilising the tulip fields of North and South Holland. After some while fertilising the tulip, he managed to move up in the world of transport and landed a contract hauling white cabbage. Nearly as smelly but at least cleaner. Quite important, as Cornelis, (along with all subsequent Hijstek skippers), were never seen in anything other than a black suit and tie. The cabbage was loaded in North Holland and taken to a factory in Leiden where it was pickled.

Eben Haezer                                                                         Right - Cornelis Hijstek 

During the early 1900’s Cornelis lived in Hilversum which lies some 30 km south-east of Amsterdam and 25 km north of Utrecht. This was a prosperous area helped by a canal link to Amsterdam built in the mid 1700’s. This made it an ideal place to base a barging business.                      

1920-Schiphol.jpg (39598 bytes)Where Cornelis lived was especially convenient for the next few years of work. Hilversum was fairly near to old fort Schiphol and in 1917 a military airport was built there. Large amounts of sand in-fill were required during the airport's construction.

The name Schiphol means "ship hole/hell" because many ships strangely got lost in the lake located there, Haarlemmermeer . This is due to the lake’s shallow depth and the high winds in the area causing large steep waves that frequently flooded ships.

Left. Schiphol in 1920 with a small military airfield.

He didn’t get the contract to haul sand for the construction without a fight though! Eben Haezer had been delivered complete with a 24PK Industrie Motor. To build this airfield substantial amounts of sand had to be hauled in. Haarlemmermeer polder (lake) had to be nearly infilled to build Schiphol Airport. Even after raising the level of the lake bed, the airport ended up about 4 m (14ft) below sea level. One of the government construction guidelines stated that no barge with a motor could to be granted a contract. The idea was not to discriminate against those barges that did not yet have a motor.

Living locally, Cornelis heard about the project and showed up on site with Eben Haezer but didn't use his motor. The Inspector saw the engine exhaust and denied Cornelis any work. Cornelis took the local government to court and won the case. It was determined that an engine not running could not be deemed an engine. He went on to use his engine for the rest of the Schiphol contract but was now left alone by the inspectors after their defeat.

Most of the Hijstek family went on to live in Haarlemmermeer. Many still do! This is where they were living during the time they owned "Annetje".

BastianSenior.jpg (15598 bytes)By the 1920’s Cornelis’s son Bastiaan (senior) was involved in the business and took a contract delivering pipe sections. At first the pipe sections were fabricated in either the UK or France and delivered by large cargo ship to Rotterdam where Bastiaan collected them to be delivered to locations in North and South Holland. Later the iron ore was shipped in and processed at the new Hoogovens steel works in Rotterdam. These sections of pipe were then used to build much needed water, sewers and land drainage systems. Hoogovens1942.jpg (27119 bytes)

Right: Hoogovens Steel Works taken by an RAF bomber in 1942.

Left: Bastiaan senior

The Hijsteks proudly point out that more lives were saved by the construction of the fresh water/sewer system then even the invention of Antibiotics. With the water table in most places in the Netherlands only a few inches below the surface it meant that before the sewers were in place most sewage mixed with the drinking water. The number of deaths recorded in the Netherlands from Cholera is recorded in the millions so the Hijstek's are probably right! The last large Cholera epidemic was in 1866. By then Amsterdam had plumbed in fresh water from the coastal dunes and was the only city fairly untouched by the epidemic. The link between Cholera and clean drinking water had been made. Drinking water became a sellable commodity. Water distillery shops sprung up everywhere and fresh water was barged into the remote areas until the fresh water system could be completed. Loads of work for the Hijsteks!

pipescannen0001_geplaatst.jpg (49092 bytes)Bastiaan was loaded in Rotterdam with his first load of steel pipe sections in the early 1920's and headed for the North of Holland. On arrival he noted that two extra sections of pipe had been loaded in error. Back in Rotterdam for his next load he informed the loading office of their error. This one piece of honesty secured the future for the Hijstek family. All future contracts were granted to the Hijsteks. With all the development required across the Netherlands in sewage and drinking water systems they had a secure employment for years to come. This employment continued right through the world-wide Great Depression that started in the 1920s and continued to cripple the Dutch economy into the early 1930s. VrouweAntjeHijstek.jpg (461797 bytes)

By 1926 the business had expanded to a size that a second powered crane ship was required. The Hijstek's at this stage owned two large un-powered barges and "Eben Haezer" which was their only crane ship. They also had a luxemotor "Waarheid Wint" which was also power and could be used as a tug but was not set up for heavy lifting. After a visit to D. Boot in Alphen, Bastiaan (senior) found a vessel nearly the same size as "Eben Haezer" with a similar motor, a little Klipper.

Now with two crane ships business was booming and business was even helped by the Great Depression. As the depression deepened more social work programs were initiated. For the Hijstek’s this was only good news. Many new water and sewer systems were built as part of a program to increase employment. Considering that most of the shipping and trading sectors were hit very hard but the economic crisis, the Hijsteks were incredibly lucky to have consistent work and the business survived intact until the end of the Depression in 1936.                  Above. Vrouwe Antje unloading pipe sections in the 1930's

HuibertHijstek.jpg (15408 bytes)Huibert Hijstek, Bastiaan senior’s brother, was the skipper of Annetje during the whole time they owned her. Huibert is pictured to the left. Generally most of the work was day trips so Huibert rarely had to sleep on board; a good thing with Annetje’s lack of home comforts. She was fitted with another engine in the bow for running the lifting crane which left only the cargo area for sleeping. As Huibert lived in Amsterdam, Annetje had a regular mooring next to Zeilbrug in Amsterdam. The Hijsteks gave us a mooring receipt from this mooring dated 1962. This was the ship's mooring for 39 years.mooringticket.jpg (3609 bytes)

Bastiaan junior, Bastiaan senior's son, started working on board Annetje with his uncle at the age of 14. He left school at 14 to work in the family business although it was illegal to leave school early in the Netherlands at the time. His father was fined each week he didn't attend school until he reached the age of 16.

Bastiaan senior and his wife, Annetje, had one more child at around this time, a daughter. Unfortunately she was disabled. At that time they were living on board their luxemotor "Waarheid Wint". Finding boat life hard for their new daughter, Bastiaan and Annetje made the decision to move into a house in Badhoevedorp.Bastianjunior.jpg (29570 bytes) House shown below.

Hystekphoto5.jpg (323515 bytes)Bastiaan junior was paid 3 Guilders per week when not married. The pay increased if he married. He recalled that when he had 10 Guilders in his pocket he married his childhood sweetheart Beks de Koli. Now that his dad had moved to a house in Badhoevedorp, he and Beks were able to move onto Waarheid Wint. There they had two children one of which we met, "Whilimena". Whilimena was the first born, born during WWII in 1942.

By the end of 1936 the Dutch economy had nearly recovered but then headed into another slump.                                                                                               Bastiaan Junior    This was caused by another recession in the United States in 1937. Another cause was the rising political tensions caused by Germany’s increasingly aggressive behaviour.

The Hijsteks business had been steadily expanding until the invasion on May 10th 1940 and now their fate was in German hands. Bastiaan (junior) recounted that at the time he was living on the family luxemotor "Waarheid Wint". Huibert was still skippering "Annetje" and living in Amsterdam. Hystekphoto8.jpg (378543 bytes)

The Hijsteks again fared better than most. The Germans ordered all barges capable of crossing the channel to to be seized and taken to various shipyards for conversion to landing craft for the planned invasion of Britain. Many of these ships ended up at the Boot shipyard in Alphen. Luckily none of the Hijsteks powered barges were large enough for this purpose. By the end of 1940 the Hijsteks had their orders. They were to transport cabbage, carrots and potato skins for cow feed and this they did for the remainder of the war. Their area of operation was North and South Holland. Right is the whole family on Waarheid Wint.                                                                       

Hystekphoto7.jpg (386179 bytes)When we asked Bastiaan how they faired during the war he just said they were shot at many times by Allied aircraft but never bombed. He attributed this to their strategy of always having baby nappies drying on a clothes line and some bit of royal blue visible from the air in hopes that aircraft would see there was a baby on board and also see it was a Dutch not a German ship. It seemed to work as all their ships made it through the war and as far as we are aware, none of the Hijsteks were killed.

On May 4, 1945 the Germans surrendered. Unlike WWI the Netherlands found themselves among the worst affected by the war. Not only had they been bombed by the Germans but they were also heavily bombed by the Allied forces. Along with the human losses the Netherlands needed an entirely new infrastructure, new water mains, sewers and roads. With the Hijstek’s fleet of ships intact business boomed.   Hijsteks during WWII.                                     There was one difference though. By 1950 with the roads rebuilt, road transport started to take over from slow barge transport.Hijstektrucks.jpg (61643 bytes)

By 1956 the Hijsteks had a fleet of trucks and could earn as much profit hauling 3 tons of fright by road than 10 tons by canal. The last barge to be sold was Annetje in 1965. It was sold in a private sale to an "Albert Vuur" and his wife "Jeanette" for the price of 4000 Guilders.

The business carried on being run by Anton, another of Bastiaan senior's sons, and Anton's sons until 1975 when they closed their doors. The shipping business was hit hard by the "Oil Crises" in the 1970's and Anton sold the business as a going concern to a larger shipping company, "Castricum",  hoping to save the jobs of his employees. Unfortunately a few years later it too went out of business.

                                                                                                                  The Hijstek's trucks.

Here are pictures of Bastiaan junior, his brother Anton and Bastiaan's daughter, Whilimena,  taken when we met them in 2007.

Hystekmeeting2.jpg (42823 bytes) Hystekmeeting4.jpg (59837 bytes)Hystekmeeting3.jpg (44966 bytes)

Hystekmeeting1.jpg (46548 bytes)Bastiaan, John Griffin (me) and Anton. 1997

By 1964 their last ship, Annetje,  was sitting behind a wharf in Amsterdam not being used. This is where the next owner found her.

In 1965 Albert Vuur and his wife, Jeanette, were living in Amsterdam aboard a 9 meter boat. The day he saw "Annetje" he was hitchhiking into the centre of Amsterdam for work because his car had broken down. In 1964 the Hijsteks had stopped using the barge and had taken it out of the water leaving it in the back of a small shipyard. This is where Albert found it. He was kind enough to give us a picture of the day he found it. Below right.

Jeannet1.jpg (13470 bytes)Albert was so excited by his find that day that he didn’t go into work. He headed back to have a chat with his wife who he had only married a few months earlier. He explained that it was his dream to own a ship like the one he had seen. Albert was born on a ship but his father left the shipping business at the beginning of WWII so living on a boat ran in the blood. Seeing how excited he we Jeanette encouraged him to return and enquire if it was for sale.

On his return to the shipyard Albert asked the gatekeeper if he could take a look. The man agreed but pointed out that he would be watching from the gate. Albert had a close look at the hull using his hands to feel for rust on the underside. All seem to be in good condition. The Hijsteks had maintained the ship well according to Bastiaan junior. Albert and Jeanette approached the Hijsteks in Badhoevedorp (Haarlemmermeer) about purchasing the barge. The Hijsteks had just started to consider selling the ship so his timing was perfect.

Albert bought the ship for 4000 guilders. They sold the small (nine meter) boat and they moved into their new home. Initially they removed the crane engine and lived in the bow of the barge as it had the main engine in the original living area aft. Along with being their home, Albert used it to carry fairground equipment. They had three children on board over the years. This required more living area so he cut off the steel roef and replaced it with a wooden structure which extended the full length of the cargo area.The below picture was taken in 1971. Janneke2.jpg (67919 bytes)

Jeanette and Albert took very good care of the little klipper now named " Jeanette". Every two years the ship was taken out of the water for maintenance at the shipyard "Oldenhage" in Lisserbroek. In 1976 Albert decided that the old raw oil 24 pk motor was too inefficient. The 24pk engine was the one the Hijsteks had installed   in 1929. He installed a much more efficient Volvo 240 engine with 114 PK (one Dutch paardenkracht (PK) is roughly equal to one HP). Even though the new motor produced 4 times the horse power it used one quarter the fuel.

One other reason to change the motor was to attract a buyer. Jeannette and Albert’s children were getting older and needed more space than a 20 meter barge could offer. In 1977 he sold the ship to a Jan van Putten. Jan wasn’t interested in legalities and never bothered to update legal ownership through the Kadaster so almost nothing is known of Mr Putten. Albert said that he "drank to much and didn't care for the ship."

By the time the next owners purchased the ship it was in a sorry state. Mr Putten died in 1982 and the ship was sold to Antje and Wim Berchum to settle his estate. The fact that very little is known about Mr. Putten seems correct in some way. The truth is we haven't looked very hard for his history. Everyone up to this point had cared for the klipper and made sure this piece of history survived. It doesn’t seem right to spend to much time on someone who didn’t appear to care.

In 1983 the Berchums purchased the ship but did not change ownership legally through the Kadaster until 1987. This required a solicitor checking the Kadaster and then checking that the last listed legal owner didn’t still have a claim to the ship. Albert Vuur was contacted by the Berchum’s solicitor. At that time Mr. Berchum offered to take the Vuur family for a sail on Vrouwe Antje but the only day the Vuur’s had free was a Sunday. As I found out later this wouldn’t have gone down well. Mr Berchum pointed out that Sunday was a holy day. This was the last time Jeanette and Albert were to hear of the ship for another 20 years until 2009 when we contacted them.

Albert said that he loved the ship and to this day regrets selling it but he's pleased that its now being cared for. After selling the ship, Albert and his growing family moved onto a large barge which was not in running condition where they stayed for many years. After this they moved to a house in Bodegraven because the children were in school there. They are retired now and live in a mobile home in Leiderdorp, a town near Leiden in South Holland.

Early in 1983 Antje and Wim Berchum decided they would like to purchase a barge to convert to sailing condition. The idea was to purchase a barge big enough to fit their family and friends on but small enough to be manageable under sail. After some looking they found a barge listed as being in Amsterdam and being sold by a C.B. Brandjes. The barge was moored in an area on the outskirts of Amsterdam in an area approved for live-aboards. The address was listed as No. 10 Nieuwpoortkade, Amsterdam. This area is still designated for house boats although now this is a prime holiday let area now. The house boats in this area now are five star hotels.

When they arrived the boat was in a sorry state. They were told by the lady showing them around that her husband, Jan van Putten, had died a year earlier and she had not set foot on the barge after his death. We have not ask if he died on board; we didn’t really want to know!

The Berchums were living in Werkendam near to where they had started a business making exterior blinds and covers. They started the business in 1974 and they moved to Werkendam in 1983. They started with a small showroom in the centre of town. The business is still located on the same plot of land but now is a modern 130 sq. meter showroom.

Werkendam itself is a historic shipping village located on the south bank of the River Waal about 20km east of Rotterdam. The Berchums have the use of a small harbour just outside of town and it was here that they completed the work on Vrouwe Antje. Wim Berchum is an excellent welder and turned boat building into his hobby. Antje, his wife, describes it as more of an illness.

The Berchums purchased the barge for 35,000 guilders. When Vrouwe Antje was built in 1902 a worker would be lucky to make over a 1000 guilders a year and Th. Borst had it built for 3200 guilders; approximately three years wages. Eighty-five years later it is still about 3 years salary. Ships seem to hold her value.

Wim’s first project on the ship was to remove the wooden cabin which Albert Vuur had built and replace it with a steel structure. The shape of the cabin he built was nearly the same as Albert’s. He also rebuilt the cockpit area with higher sides and seating that doubled as new fuel tanks. The old Edson wheel steering was removed and replaced with hydraulic wheel steering.

It was quite a project when you start looking at the work they had to do. Building a completely new steel cabin meant that the interior had to be new as well. Much of the work they completed at this time is still present in Vrouwe Antje today. The ceiling panelling still look as good as the day it was installed. They divided the space available into 1/3 living room/kitchen and the rest of the space as bedrooms except for a small bathroom. Again, the layout works so it is the same today except, that as the Berchum’s children got older and had children of their own, more and more bunks were installed in the bedroom areas. By the time I saw the boat it had 5 single bunks and two double beds.

Berchum6.jpg (34036 bytes)Wooden windows were installed; three down each side and one stained-glass window looking out into the cockpit. The photo to the right was taken sometime in late 1988. It appears like the steel work is done but none of the rigging was on yet.

The next step was to start with the rigging. This is a very complicated issue as it is not just the size and shape of the sails but location of the masts and leeboards. Understandably they drafted in some help. Wim contacted a ship restorer who works extensively with the Rotterdam Maritiem Museum, Bart Vermeer.

Berchum1987.jpg (7239 bytes)Bart is well known as being an expert in his field and is best known for the restoration of the oldest existing iron Dutch barge, a stevenaak named Helena, built in 1895. His normal expertise is restoring ships to their original condition. The Berchums weren’t really interested in Vrouwe Antje being original but were more interested in a barge that sailed well. They liked the look of two masts so requested that Bart design a sail plan with this in mind. The result in my view is beautiful but according to Wim the ship sailed like a pig. He didn’t say what the problem was but after several years Bart was contacted again and was asked to redesign the sails with one mast. Looking at the new sail plan, the mast and lea-boards have been moved from their original position to a new position about a meter aft. This gives a clue to the problem it had before. In the two masted design the main mast was far forward in its historic position. With only performance in mind this is not the ideal position. This meant that most of the sail was behind the main mast and anytime there was a strong gust of wind the ship would point into wind uncontrollable. This was made worse by the second mast and sail aft. The second design was a success. It gets rid of the aft mast and sail, uses a larger main and a larger middle headsail. This combined  with the lea-boards being further aft solved the problem.Berchum5.jpg (56630 bytes)

Over the years the Berchums owned the ship their family grew up and started families of their own. Their son and his new wife lived aboard from 2000 to 2003 and had two children whilst living on Vrouwe Antje. The Vuurs had three while living aboard and we have one so the count to date is seven!

By 2004 Wim and Antje decided that sailing was becoming too difficult for them and a new plan was needed. The new plan was to buy an old fishing vessel and convert it to a pleasure craft to cruise the oceans where a barge couldn't go. In 2003 Wim purchased a Shrimp Cutter and started the conversion. At the same time they put Vrouwe Antje on the market. A year later it was still unsold. One of the reasons was for the Dutch the ship wasn't original enough. When most Dutch do conversions they try to at least keep the original look. For example if they were planning to raise the original covers to give more head height then they would keep the covers as a roof. In either event by the time I saw the ship, they were willing to drop their price down to something I could afford.

Berchum1992.jpg (34463 bytes)After their Cutter was finished they motored up and down the Dutch and Belgian coast for a number of years. They wrote to us recently and said that they were missing the flexibility of a barge. They especially missed being able to dry out at low tide on the many sand banks on the north coast of the Netherlands. This is a common practice with the Dutch. They spend a few hours relaxing and playing on the sand then they sail away with the rising tide. 

The photo on the left was taken in 1992 and shows Antje and their son on Vrouwe Antje.

wim20042.jpg (69035 bytes)As of 2008 they had sold the Shrimp Cutter and Wim was building a new Luxemotor which they hope to have finished by August 2008 for their first holiday on it. The picture on the right is of Wim in 2004 taken on my camera phone when I first saw Vrouwe Antje. Vrouwe Antje is the name given to her by the Berchums.

April 2004 the ship was mine. I lived on it just over a year before meeting my now wife Jane. Unlike the Dutch the English believe it is bad luck to change the name of a ship so Vrouwe Antje is still "Vrouwe Antje". Its seems a bit strange not to changing her name after all those years of tradition but we like the name Vrouwe Antje.

I was looking to get out of the property market in the UK in 2003. By 2004 the idea of living on a boat was born. In my initial search I found a French built trawler which fitted the bill in both size and cost. The only hitch came when trying to find a mooring for her. Residential moorings in the UK are like hens teeth. Most affordable moorings I found were tidal and not suitable for a boat with a 3 metre draft. 

VrouweAntjesailing.jpg (40676 bytes)Soon I was looking at barges and shortly afterwards began looking at Dutch sailing barges. I have been sailing for many years and it just seemed like everything just pointed me in that direction. I found a plot of waterfront land in Southampton which I purchased then bought Vrouwe Antje. setsail2005.JPG (204764 bytes)

By then I'd met Jane who also loved sailing and we have never looked back. In 2006 we came up with the plan to move to France and sail/cruise Europe on the barge.

Vrouwe Antje is still going strong and she has at least another 100+ years in her!

This picture was taken on June the 4th 2006 when we set sail for France.



On the 28th of May 2011 we managed to track down many of the relitives of the past owners of our ship.   

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The Kerkmeer family, the Hijstek family and the Boot family all on the ship for a picture on the 28th May 2011. 



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Berchum2001.jpg (10980 bytes)


Burchum1999.jpg (32297 bytes)


Jeannet1.jpg (13470 bytes)


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Vrouwe Antje with 2 masts in 1985.

Vrouwe Antje Full Sail2.jpg (20612 bytes)


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De Vooruitgang Gouwsluis-1.JPG (84726 bytes)

Ship yard where Vrouwe Antje was built in 1902.

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De Industrie Alphen A/D Rijn where Vrouwe Antje's

first engine was made in 1918.'

Engine.jpg (583720 bytes)1918-1976

Vrouwe Antje's second engine. 24 hp (It could be her first as well) Built by Industrie, Alphen a/d rijn.


Volvo240.jpg (24880 bytes)1976-83

The Third engine she had. An engine out of a

Volvo 240 with 114 hp.


daf575.jpg (19761 bytes)1983-1998

The fourth engine Vrouwe Antje had was a

Daf 575


IMG_0942.JPG (517759 bytes)1998-Present

Engine she has now. MAN 160hp.