Bonnes affaires

Tjalk de habitation 18 x 3.50 m

Numéro référence : A 115

Description :


Here are some of the photos taken from the barge on our travels between Buzet sur Baise and Toulouse. There are almost no other boats on the canal – not like in the UK


Aquaduct in Agen…. Amazing crossing the Garonne river at about 60 ft up


Lollipop is a 1910 Dutch tjalk which is made in riveted iron. Obviously before the 1st world war the quality of materials was much better than today’s steel so maybe that’s why she is still in such great shape.

Depending on how you measure her she is 18.4m, 18m or 17,98m. We have registered her on the UK Small Ships Register as 17.98m which sometimes means you pay a little less in mooring fees but it also means a standard RYA Inland Waterways Helmsman certificate is all you need to captain her. In France they require almost a commercial licence for boats over 18m although not in the UK. With Brexit it could cause problems with a standard RYA certificate if the boat on a French canal is longer….

Lollipop is about 3.5m wide with a draft of 0.8m and an air height of about 2.6m which means she can go just about anywhere. She also still has working lee boards so if you do end up in bigger water like the etangs near the Med then you can lower one or both which act like a keel on a yacht so you don’t fly sidewards. The head height inside is 1.73m at its lowest in the centre of the boat. Further from the middle it is over 1.8m (if I remember right).

One of the reasons we bought her was the great curves, the other was her 80cv Mercedes Benz 3 cylinder motor which experienced barge owners told us and still tell us is one of the best engines they have ever experienced in a barge. It has always started first time, even after 10 months in port without moving and compared to some engines she is relatively quiet.


Based on research by the people who owned her before us, we think she was used originally to transport potatoes and when we bought her there was still a small section at the front of the boat which would have been the crew quarters.

We understand that the previous owners sailed her from the Netherlands down the Rhone and along the Canal du Midi to the site where we bought her at Mas d’Agenais nearer to Bordeaux.

Our background was some sailing but never barging but our objective was initially that she would serve as a home for me and my daughter who was at school in the Lot & Garonne 3 days/week. We bought her in 2014 and immediately moved across the Garonne onto the Lot (with the help of a few experienced volunteers) and she was moored in Castelmoron sur Lot for the school year.

The more we lived on her the more we realised the flaws in the living arrangements so we moved her to Toulouse in the summer of 2015. In the technical port we had a lot of work done on her while:

  • we stripped almost all of the interior out, used hamster litter to soak up water and grease impregnated with diesel and used the Karcher to get rid of the last of the smelly material.

  • Later a new water tight steel wall was welded between the engine room and living space so there would be no more contaminated water in the living area EVER.


  • We had a new hull survey done

  • had a thin area at the water line double plated

  • changed all the cocks

  • painted most of the exterior of the boat and

  • extended the rudder.

While we were in the technical port we also:

  • extended the front roofline so we could create a master bedroom at the front,

  • welded the steel partition between the engine room and the living accommodation,

  • changed all the windows for new double grazed windows with a thermal break which we had brought in from the UK (important if you don’t want condensation dripping on you in bed during the winter). About 2/3 of the windows open and the front window is designed to be an emergency exit in case of fire.

  • We added a winch for a new anchor since there was old an anchor on a short rope.

  • Other work included renovating the original stained glass entrance door and roof lights so they didn’t leak.

  • We added a 2nd hatch to the engine room because before you had to squeeze past a hot engine if you wanted anything stored below

  • We moved the water filler plug and fuel filling plug and of course fitted a new one for emptying the black water tank

  • The internal areas which were exposed were treated with foam insulation and in some areas metallic insulation was added as well. Metallic insulation was put under the floor.


New windows being made in the UK and photos during the process of foam insulation

  • A solid teak floor is laid on marine ply boards which can be removed in case you need to access the bottom of the boat for some reason.

  • Solid bamboo was used in the bedrooms and bathroom.

  • The water tanks were changed where needed

  • there was a new fuel tank added plus an emergency shut off valve.

  • 2 isolated battery compartments were created with new batteries – one for the engine and the other for domestic.

  • A new automatic bilge pump was put in the engine compartment and the original one serves the living cabin

  • The whole boat was rewired,

  • new plumbing

  • the hot water tank was connected to the engine so water is heated while you are underway.

  • We also added a 2nd water intake for the engine to stop it blocking which it had done once with algae in the river Lot.

  • We had a gas locker built to UK standards and a French certified gas technician fitted the pipes which lead to the gas hob inside

  • We bought solid barge fenders although we still use the old balloon ones as well.

  • We had a mast made for lights and flags and added 2 antennas to capture wifi better in ports.

  • We also fitted a high quality electric marine toilet

  • Added a shower pump on a new shower,

  • 60lt black water tank (still in virgin condition).

  • Under new stairs are the original electronics including a battery charger and an inverter which converts 24v battery power to 240v to power the refrigerator and a few small items while you are moving or off grid


The photo above shows the finish when we left the port in Toulouse to head back to Castelmoron at the end of the summer.

Luckily we found a British carpenter who had trained in marine carpentry so he took over the slow job of all the carpentry to make her liveable. This took nearly 2 years but now she looks great. This included making a new tiller.


Eventually came the final touches. We had always intended to spend 4-5 years sailing her along the canal drinking wine and having a great time. For me that meant all the luxurious comforts of home so that is the reason internally she doesn’t look as much like a boat as a 2 bedroom apartment.

The last work was finished at the end of May 2018 which was a complete repaint of the boat above water level by a professional boat painter who had all the tools to take parts of the paintwork back to metal where necessary.

Today she is has upper deck lockers with gas bottles, petrol generator, rope and hose pipe. The new decking at the back has lockers which double as seating and a simple hatch cover doubles as an outside table. We spent ages moving a plastic one around when we were moving so this one drops back down over the hatch when you are moving. There is a stainless steel frame for a canopy although at the moment we haven’t found anyone to make it so there is a temporary awning acting as a sun shade.


The rear windows are single glazed with a separate glass panel with poppy painted on. We liked these and kept them although they cannot be separated now as the 2 panes are “glued” together. Between them are the original doors with stained glass and a sliding hatch.


New steps cover the electronics for the boat and lead directly down into the kitchen. This is completely new (plastic came off the doors at the end of May 2018. There is so much storage it seems impossible for such a small area.


The table retracts into the drawers so it is only left out when you are eating and will seat 4 at a pinch. When there are more people there is a red coffee table in the living area and it can be used next to the kitchen table as it is possible to adjust the height. We have seated 6 inside the boat using this coffee table.

The counter top is in Corian with a moulded sink. Appliances include a washer/dryer, dishwasher, multi-function oven/microwave, 4 ring gas hob, an under counter fridge with small freezer section and a water filtration tap for drinking water.


The living room continues on from the kitchen with solid teak floors. There is a full height storage unit where we have reused an original door, for coats, taller items like an ironing board and shovels etc, shelf storage for tools etc. Inside is built a unit on wheels which pulls out and houses the wet/dry vacuum (this is quite unusual on a boat to find a full height cupboard). There is also an emergency shut off valve for the gas and an electric gas detector.


The living area has lots of natural light because of the large windows and sky light. There is more storage built in oak including an open area for a media centre, another for logs and a wine rack.

There are shelves for books including the navigation books we have will be left. There are multinational sockets with USB chargers (these may need replacing in the future since the rocker switches seem to go on these)as well as French sockets. Separate USB chargers are throughout the boat and work on 24v from the battery.

2 cables lead into either side of the boat to support better wifi capture and we have left the Alpha “dongle” but even these cannot capture really weak signals.

There is a vent for the reversible air conditioning but it is not powerful enough to cool/heat the whole of the cabin area. We have tended to use it for the bedrooms and bathroom. There is a beautiful ceramic clad wood burner and this was fitted by a professional installer in 2017/2018. This means that with the level of insulation and double glazing you usually need to open the skylights because it can get too hot even in winter.

In terms of furniture we are leaving a brand new IKEA 800€ double sofa bed, an arm chair and a really clever red glass coffee table which can be raised or lowered to suit.

Moving forward from the living room is a corridor which has a full length mirror on a door at the end leading to the master bedroom (another rarity on a boat). There is more storage and sliding doors lead to the twin bedroom/study and further along another reused original door leads to the bathroom.

The study/2nd bedroom has glass panelled doors to maximise the light when used as a study. The glass in the upper panels has been hand painted at eye level in a similar design to the wallpaper in the living room and corridor and gives a sense of privacy but still lets the light in. Curtains inside the room can be used to close off from the corridor and give total privacy when it is used as a bedroom.

The study/twin bedroom has a 90x200cm bed with IKEA mattress and lats which can be lifted up for storage. At the moment there is all the paint, spare tiles, silicon etc under there because it is a bit of a pain to access so we used it for things we wouldn’t want too often. At the end of the bed is a small amount of storage for


The 2nd bed uses open storage boxes underneath and these have been designed so that if the 2 top boxes are stacked one on top of the other in the centre, the solid bamboo desk top can be lowered to the same height as the other bed. Under the master bed is stored a wooden futon frame and a futon mattress so this can be used as a 2nd twin bed. The storage boxes are the right height for IKEA containers so can store computer/printer equipment at the back and IKEA storage is at the visitors’ front for clothes etc.

There is also a small hanging rail storage between the beds. At the foot of each bed has a USB charger and there is a triple French socket next to the desk/bed. There are also 2 shelves for additional storage.


The bathroom is tiled in a light wave pattern tile with black and silver mosaic highlights. It has a mixer shower in a 90x70cm tray but to stop it feeling cramped like most barges we have put a glazed upper half panel with glass pivot door. It is right under a skylight so this can be used to let steam escape. There is an access point in the floor to reach the elecric shower pump if needed.

The 60lt black water tank is in the wall cavity and can be accessed from a handmade lower cabinet which is left open on one side. There is also a small access point behind a towel rail to reach the Y-valve to send waste to the tank instead of the canal. In France there is almost nowhere to empty black water tanks so no one uses them.

It has a glass hand basin and above a mirrored cabinet. The toilet is a high quality marine 24v electric toilet with 3 flush options. This works from batteries so still works when the boat is moving. Behind is storage for towels etc.

The bathroom door has also been re-used from the original boat so has really nice glass but for additional privacy there is a small curtain on the outside of the door.


Behind the reused mirrored door is the master bedroom. The important thing was we wanted a bed which you could walk around on both sides. Too many boats we saw had a bed against a wall and one person had to clamber over the other. We’re too old for that so you can walk round the bed on 3 sides.

Because the bow of the boat starts to sweep up there is a step at the head of the bed so you can get into bed. It is a 1.4m wide bed on a frame which lifts to give extra storage (suitcases and bigger items can go in here easily and the futon base for the 2nd twin bed is currently stored here). The mattress is a high end IKEA mattress.


The room is decorated with Japanese influenced wallpaper and so the headboard has been handmade and decorated to represent a Japanese temple gate. It is difficult to describe but it has 2 sections which come up to stop pillows dropping off because the handle to open up the bed storage is in between.


At the end of the bed is more storage which is where the futon is currently stored. There are 2 closed hanging units for clothes, shelving designed to take IKEA boxes to store what would normally go in a drawer and then into the bow of the boat on both sides are more hanging rails. The furthest side also has a small floor height flat shelf to take a washing basket.

On both sides of the bed there are 2 small shelves for phones/glasses etc and a USB charging point.

The front window is designed as an emergency exit in case of fire somewhere between the bedroom and the main rear doors. The glazed unit is supposed to come out and is not hinged in place, however when it arrived the aluminium side supports which hold the glass when it is open don’t have a steep enough angle to pull the glass out and it is held in place by the ceiling. We have always taken the view that if there is a fire you would bend the supports out of the way and drop the glass but the company did subsequently supply supports with a bigger angle if a new owner wants to swop them over.

There are at least 3 large fire extinguishers on the boat but I cannot guarantee they are still in date. There is also a smoke detector in the study although it may need batteries. There is also a small safe for valuables although the boating community seems to have its own code of looking out for each other.

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