See Val’s comparison of our lifestyles: http://wateryways.blogspot.com/2014/06/weberview-week-first-up-lynn-m-dixon.html?spref=tw
Below are the answers to your questions. I really appreciate this opportunity and I hope I’ve given you and your blog readers a few more insights into my boaty world!
1. Is living on a houseboat more economical than living on land in the Netherlands?
This is an interesting question because there’s not really a standard answer to it. Let me say first of all that living on the water is quite customary in the Netherlands. ‘Houseboats’ range from what are called ‘woonarks’ which are like chalets floating on concrete platforms, through old barges that have modern built superstructures and finishing with historic barges like the Hoop and the Vereeniging that I live on. The ‘woonarks’ are not cheap at all and are often more expensive than a normal house or apartment. Add to that the rent for the mooring or ‘ligplaats’ and the high maintenance costs and these are absolutely not more economical.
However, living on what we call a ‘vaarklaar‘ boat, meaning that it’s motorised and can sail, is quite economical. They tend to be cheaper than a ‘woonark’ (although some are very expensive). That said, mooring is always a big cost and that is where the historic boats are better off. There are several historic harbours in the Netherlands and they are nearly all run by sort of heritage foundations, so we have cheaper mooring fees. The condition for that, though, is that we maintain our boats as historic monuments. Apart from this, living on board is no more or less than living in a house, but it’s much harder work!
2. Coincidentally, I have a character named Tyre in my book Warm Intrigues. I saw that you used the word in Watery Ways. What is a tyre in the boating vocabulary?
I don’t remember using this word other than as a fender. We often use old car tyres as protection between the boats when mooring up. Inevitably, the water movement means you cannot always avoid bumping into each other, so old rubber tyres have a second life serving as cheap, but rather heavy fenders.
Lynn: Oh, in the States we spell car tires differently.
3. When the challenges of managing a houseboat alone became great, did you ever seriously consider looking for an apartment? Could you share a time, if applicable?
No, I never considered it because I’d made a choice and I was determined to stick to it (I am a real Taurean bull – stubborn is my middle name). What appeals to me about living on a boat is that if you want to move, you take your house with you. Now I haven’t moved away from the harbour, but I’ve lived in many different parts of it, and that’s lovely. A change of scene without moving anything inside. The other great aspect is when you go on holiday or on trips, you always have your own things with you, so no, I didn’t consider it as this was and is the life I want. That said, I’ve had to spend a spell in an apartment recently due to family circumstances, and I’m very, very happy to be going back to my barge!
4. How important is the boating community to your survival?
The boating community is not so much important to our survival, but it is important to our sense of belonging and being with other like-minded people. We have our harbour in the middle of a large, cosmopolitan city, but it’s more like a village. We all know each other; we all help each other; and if we are ever stuck or have a problem, such as hooligans throwing a gangplank in the water (which they do for fun now and then), there’s always someone to help. So, survival? No, not really, but for warmth, kindness and generosity of spirit, they are a very important part of our, and my, life.
5. What is one of the most precious things you gave up to the “water gods?” I’ll leave this one as I can’t really remember anything precious, but a lot of stuff has been offered up.
6. Are the festivals a time to showcase your skills, crafts and the boat itself? Please tell us why they are so important to the boating community.
I’ve written quite a bit about the festivals and what they mean to the community in Harbour Ways, the sequel to Watery Ways, but yes, in brief, they give us a chance to put up information boards and other displays and to put on demonstrations of the traditional boating crafts like riveting, sail making, rope plaiting and all that kind of thing.
7. When the Hoop was put up for sale and you purchased the Vereeniging, was there a feeling of relief or a sense of added responsibility as you went from renter to owner?
There was a sense of panic! I had to move rather faster than I really wanted, so when I started living on the Vereeniging, my lifestyle was even more basic than it had been on the Hoop. The story of how I turn my empty hull into a home is actually the subject of the sequel, Harbour Ways, but in truth, I didn’t have the time to worry about the responsibility; I had to get on with the business of building somewhere to live and undertake activities like plumbing and furniture making – skills I had to learn because (being a stubborn bull) I didn’t want to wait till someone had the time to help me!
Thank you so very much for your kind interest. It’s really lovely of you! And now I’d better get back to that Research Proposal 🙂
Best of the best!