By the fall of 2000
Lisa had decided that having
a barge in France would be a
We really enjoyed Europe
and its culture and wanted to
spend more time there.
We joined the Dutch Barge
Association and began
researching the idea. We
travelled from the very north
of Holland to central France
and back again many times,
following leads and looking at
barges that were for sale.
After many months of
searching and negotiating we decided on a partially
converted barge that was in a yard in Friesland, an area to
the northwest of Amsterdam. By purchasing an empty
barge not yet converted, we would be able to fit it out to
our likes. Our preferences were for fewer, larger cabins
within the barge. Many barges we had looked at seemed
to have too many small cabins so it could carry more
The barge we chose was a 23 metre (85ft) Luxemotor
built in 1921. She was a sight for sore eyes, that only a
mother could love... or, in our case, envision the potential.
The yard had bought the hull as a project to convert from
a working barge to a cruising one. The hull was cut in half
and 6 metres was added to the original length.
The "superstructure" (the exterior cabin top) with
ships windows was installed, as well as a drop-down
wheelhouse. A DAF 615 rebuilt bus engine and a bow
thruster had also been installed. It was there that the work
on the conversion stopped as the yard was sold to new
owners that were not interested in completing the project.
It was put up for sale but nobody was interested on taking
on such a project. The project sat unfinished in the yard
for 5 years.
We began negotiating for its purchase in January of
2001. We were concerned about why the barge had been
on the market for such a long time. After we spoke with a
few barge owners they said that it was probably too
overwhelming of a project for the average sane person to
want to take on. We hadn't realized just how massive the
project would be! At the end of August we returned home
to the U.S. to arrange financing, planning to return in time
for our haul out and survey scheduled for the... 11th of
We had chosen a name for her. It was to be JoLi'
Folie. When we told people of our latest adventure, they
either didn't understand exactly what we were doing or
thought us to be totally mad. We liked the combination of
our names: Joe and Lisa with JoLi' and Folie just fit
perfectly. Jolie in french means beautiful, Folie means
madness, folly. So, it could be a play on words "Beautiful
Madness" or JoLi' Folie -- Joe & Lisa's folly.
We returned to Koudum on the 9th of September. The
yard where the haul out and survey was to be performed
was about an hour away. We brought the barge there on
the 10th. On the 11th of September the surveyor we hired
inspected and made chalk marks on each side of the hull.
He made "X" marks on the hull where the yard would
grind the area so he could perform an ultrasound to check
the thickness of the steel. The hull must be a minimum
thickness under water for the buyers to complete the
purchase as insurance companies would not insure barges
under this standard. The seller needed to have plates
welded to result in the acceptable thickness. As the dutch
have a reputation of being excellent welders, we had the
existing side rails removed, new hand rails welded on the
cabin tops, a hatch into the foc'sle made, and the hole in
the forward cabin top welded over while the ship was in
the yard .
It was a long day for us and we were exhausted when
we returned to our hotel from the yard/survey. Joe turned
the TV on and we saw the of the replay of the attacks on
the Twin Towers. The day we took ownership of our barge
would never be forgotten.