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Celebrating Ireland's Floating Heritage

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Home arrow Vessels arrow Dutchies arrow Paradijs Vogel - Dutch Hevelaak - Netherlands 1911
Paradijs Vogel - Dutch Hevelaak - Netherlands 1911 PDF Print E-mail
21 March 2010


Built in 1911 as a steel "hevelaak" sailing barge.

Previous Names:

"Acht Gebroeders" 1911-1926

"Disponible" 1926-?

"Loekie" ?-?

"Johannes" ?-1990

"Paradijs Vogel" 1990-

Along the hull, just below the front of the wheel house, “GA982N” is stamped into the steel plate, together with loading marks. With this number the Maritiem Museum in Rotterdam and the Kadaster (Dutch Land Registry) were able to unlock the earliest history of the barge.

The Tonnage Certificate Register, courtesy of the Maritiem Museum, Rotterdam

The Maritiem Museum used GA982N to identify the boat's first owner as Johannes Möllers who named it 'Acht Gebroeders' or “Eight Brothers”. Officially, its dimensions were 15,94m x 3,46 m (30,959 kg).

From that basic information the Kadaster (Dutch Land Registry) records identified a barge of that name and owner registered in Leiden on the 8th of July 1911 as “749 Leiden 1911”. It was built by De Bock en Meijer in Leimuiden, a small village 30km from Gouda: they are still in business today building boats. GA982N is described as the "tonnage certificate number".



Drawing of how the steel plates curve at the stern and bow on a typical hevelaak, courtesy of the Maritiem Museum, Rotterdam

Holland’s long shipbuilding tradition can be seen in its construction: timber had given way to cast iron and steel in turn but the traditional “longship” shape persisted, a distinctly different shape to Irish heritage boats. This is a steel hevelaak, meaning the steel plates of the hull curve round to be joined on a triangular plate at the bow and stern, all riveted and welded to steel ribs.

A long counter-weighted mast (for passing under low bridges) would have carried the sails until an engine was fitted later in its life. Long teardrop-shaped “leeboards” of timber on both sides of the hull acted as retractable keels to provide essential stability.

When it was built it was a transporter carrying maybe sand or clay, building materials or farm produce on a vast network of canals and lakes- whatever provided a living for its owner and his family.

On the 15 th of April 1919 the ship was sold back to Pieter Lambertus de Bock and Pieter Meijer in Oude Weterin for 2.500 guilders. Was it repossessed by the shipyard in the post-war economic slump?

A year later in May 1920 the ship was sold to Theodorus Otto in Aalmseer for fl.3.225. On the 26th of January 1926 it was sold for 2700 guilders to Gerardus Hermanus Rotteveel, Pieter Meyer, Josephus Penning de Vries and Hugo Petrus van der Poel in Oude Wetering. They gave it a new name "Disponible" meaning "available".At least for now, from 1926 there is a long gap in its history: perhaps it was one of the 2000 barges requisitioned for Hitler’s aborted invasion of Britain (Operation Sealion) or did its canny owner, like many, protect his post-war livelihood by sinking it in a canal until 1945?

Such gaps are not unusual with these Dutch boats because they only had to be registered if there was a mortgage: it was a point of pride not to be registered.

However, there are clues to its life. The rolled corners of the steel superstructure suggest that it was converted to a houseboat in the 1970s. The history picks up again in 1990 when it was registered as "Loekie ex Johannes” by Gezina van der Leeuw and Henk Louis Los of Leeuwarden in northern Holland; there's still a small brass nameplate of theirs on the boat.

In 1998 it passed to Mr & Mrs Kaminga who re-named it “Paradijs Vogel” and lived on it until it left the Netherlands and was de-registered in 2004.


Paradijs Vogel in dry dock at Rooskey awaiting survey in 2004

Since arriving in Ireland the superstructure has been extended to provide a new master cabin in the bow and the interior has been completely refurbished by Irish craftsmen for the Macfarlane family. A penknife with "Kaminga" carved on it was found in the bilge under the engine when it was removed for complete overhaul in 2008.

The extension to the superstructure

New portholes and roof hatch

The gutted interior for a major refit in 2007

"Paradijs" is powered by a 1970s-vintage 6 cylinder 5.8ltr Mercedes OM352 diesel providing approx 120HP. Fuel capacity is 400ltrs of diesel for the engine, 80ltrs of kerosene for the central heating stove and drinking water capacity is 400ltrs. The hull has been over-plated wherever a century of wear required it.



Paradijs is 16m long by 3.5m wide by 0.8m, approx 29 tons with a max speed of 18kph.

Today “Paradijs Vogel” (Bird of Paradise) is a leisure boat cruising the inland waterways of Ireland.



Last Updated ( 05 June 2011 )
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