Stay aboard a 100 year old Skûtsje, possibly the oldest vessel on the beautiful Rio Guadiana
|De Gebroeders, Dutch for The Brothers, is a Friesian Skûtsje, a small form of Tjalk, built in Heeg, Friesland in 1912 - the same year as The Titanic. The boat is built from rivetted iron, is 17.12 metres long by 3.70 metres beam. It's mast is around 17 metres high, but is counterweighted to allow it to pass easily under bridges. The vessel weighs 25 tons, has a flat bottom with a draft of 90 cm. It was built as a commercial cargo sailing barge and carried 32 tons, mainly of sand and gravel. At that time there was no engine, so when there was no wind the family donned harnesses and towed the boat.
Today life's a bit easier as it has a 100 hp diesel engine, fitted when it’s yacht conversion was done in 1972. It also has an electric flush toilet, tiled shower, washing machine and tumble dryer, espresso machine, combi microwave-oven-grill, two fridges, a gas hob, CD/MP3 and even a vacuum cleaner. What works when is a function of pontoon power and that from the solar panels and inverter.
Don’t imagine for a moment that a stay aboard will be a five star luxury experience. It's not: it's a hundred year old classic sailing boat, and it's foibles and limitations are a part of it’s charm. And it’s probably the oldest vessel afloat on the Rio Guadiana. I’ll leave you to count the stars after your holiday, but staying on a classic boat on a beautiful river with a fantastic climate in good company usually creates a good ambience.
Wherever possible, at Guerreiros do Rio, at Laranjeiras and at Alcoutim, I aim to moor the boat on the visitor pontoons. With an unlimited water and electricity supply life becomes much easier with visitors unused to the sailor’s art of economy of water and electric consumption. At times, however, and often at Alcoutim with it’s popoularity with visiting yachts and consequent lack of pontoon space, I need to anchor and transfer crew to the quay by tender. But that lack of certainty can all be part of the interest and excitement of a stay aboard.
The saloon of the vessel has a dining table where six peolple can eat in comfort. This area can convert to a double bed if needed. With this facility the vessel could accomodate 6-8 visitors. The practical problem to consider for the visitors, however, is that those that sleep in the saloon are always the last to go bed and the second to wake up in the morning! In the saloon there’s even a wood burning stove for the chillier evenings in January and February.