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The Watergeus is my home. It's an old Dutch Luxe Motor, built in 1929. She was about to be scrapped when we bought her...
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The 'Op Hoop van Zegen' is a lemmeraak from 1916. She is being converted into a classic looking yacht.
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HomeHow to recognize a Dutch Barge?

How to recognize a Dutch Barge?

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Very often, any barge is referred as a Dutch Barge? Why, it sells better on the English market. This article shows the different types of barges built an used in the Netherlands. When finished reading, I don't expect you to recognize what boat it is, but rather to have an idea on what a Dutch barge should look like.

For a large collection of pictures from inland vessels, click here.

Vessels marked with an asterisk (*) are not typical Dutch barges. The were produced in the Netherlands but were not Dutch design.


Like the name mentions, an Amsterdammer is a motor tug suited for the low bridges in Amsterdam. Like a steilsteven, an Amsterdammer has a straight bow. These boats are more used as cruising yacht. They are to small for long time live aboard.


A Boeieraak can easily be recognized for its up going bow and stern. She had a bow mast. There are not many Boeieraken left.

A boeieraak in need of restoration (Photo: R. Verboom)


A less known type of Kempenaar is a Brusselaar. These ships had a width of 7,05 meters, because of the lock in Willebroek in Brussels.

A Brusselaar is suited as a house boat after shortening, just like a Kempenaar.


Dortmunders were vessels built for the Dortmund-Eemskanaal. They had a width of 8,20 meters. There length was around 67 meters. Dortmunders are, just like Kempenaars suited for living after shortening.

Franse Motor

A Franse Motor is a Swiss designed ship that was pre fabricated in the US and Canada. They were assembled in Dordrecht at shipyard De Biesbosh or in France in Cherbourg, Le Havre or Strasbourg. There were two dimensions, a ship of 720 tons, length of 63,31 meters and a ship of 900 tons, length 73,50 meters.

The ships can be recognized on their bow and low den. 120 ships were built, 25 small and 95 large vessels.

The bow of a Franse Motor (Source: Binnenvaart Weblog)

The ships are suited for living, after shortening.

Fries maatkastje

No description available at this moment


Typical for a Hagenaar is the up going stern. The stern is higher because the accommodation is underneath it. The height of the hold was around 2,40 meters. They were able to fit under the Bridges of Den Hague, therefore they are called Hagenaars.

A restored Hagenaar, used for sailing competitions

Hagenaars are these days used for many purposes, such as sailing competitions, house boats, ....


No description available at this moment


See also: Westlander

Kagenaars were designed for shallow water. They carried their goods on deck. These days, the only Kagenaars in existence are built up, having a top heavy construction. They are suited for weekend trips, but not for rough water.

A Kagenaar, converted into a motor yacht for small trips


See also: Brusselaar

Kempenaars were built for the Kempische canals. The boats were 50 meters long and have a width of 6,60 meters. Their cargo capacity was around 500 tons. The first Kempenaars were built without engine, but just as spitsen, they were quickly motorized. Typical for the older generation of Kempenaars were there up going stern. The stern was higher then the gangways around the cargo hold.

Modern Kempenaars have, besides their dimensions, no commons with the older generation of (motorized) Kempenaars.

A Belgian Kempenaar is 52 meters long and also has a width of 6,60 meters.

The different in sizes, a kempenaar and a spits

A Kempenaar is suitable as a house boat after shortening. A good thing about a Kempenaar is the larger back accommodation then most of the barges.

The larger back accommodation on a newer generation Kempenaar


Klipperaken are the easiest barges to recognize because of their bow.

Luxe Motor

Luxe Motors were introduced, around 1920. They were among the first Dutch motorized barges.

A profile picture of a lengthened Luxe Motor

Luxe Motors had a better accommodation in the back. They had a straight bow and a mirror-back. These ships had a length of +/- 25 meters. Most of them were, because of their good quality, lengthened after the war (just like the Watergeus).

The bow of the ???, a typical Luxe Motor bow

Smaller vessels with the same characteristics are Katwijkers. These vessels have a maximum width of 4,5 meters. The smaller the Luxe Motor is, the more expensive he is becoming. Therefore many Luxe Motors are being converted and shortened to the dimensions they were built.

Most of these vessels were built in Groningen and Friesland. They are often referred as 'The Dutch Barge'.


Snikken were had a flat bow, round stern and were around 15 meters long. They were built and mainly used in Friesland. Most of these ships were pulled by women, children or horses. The few that remain today are used for short cruises.


Sleeptankschepen were non self propelling tankers, mostly towed or pushed. There are only a few left. One of them is moored in Bruges and used as a workshop and storage.

Ship in the front is a sleeptankschip built in the 20's of last century


Spitsen are barges, designed for the French canals. They were mostly produced in Belgium and France. The Netherlands also produced spitsen, when there was no other work available on the yards.

Profile of a spits built in the Netherlands in 1957

A spits has a length of 38 meters and a width of 5,06 meters. Important for these boats is the width, the same as the French canals it is mostly sailing on. It has a blunted bow and a round stern.

Spits Scaldis loaded

A motor spits on the left and a sleepspits on the right

Most spitsen were built with a thickness of 5mm. In the beginning the were pulled by women and children or by horses. They were motorized after World War I.

A typical spits-stern with the small back accommodation

Depending on which yard they were built, the stern can have a small difference in shape

The back accommodation on a spits is rather small. These ships were really built to take as much cargo with them as possible.

If the spits is a Dutch Barge, I don't think so. Spits barges are often mentioned by their French name, which is peniche.


Steilstevens were built with a straight bow. Since it was a simple design, most steam en motor vessels were built this way.

The straight bow of a steilsteven

The were originally around 25 meters long and had a width of 5 meters. A few were lengthened and only a couple of the lengthened vessels remain today. Originally sized steilstevens can easily be found, most of them converted into house boats or motor yachts. The back of a steilsteven was up going, having the wheelhouse in most of the models completely at the back.

The back accommodation of a steilsteven with the wheelhouse completely at the end

The Harte 1 is a lengthened steilsteven. She is now used as a house boat.



A Boltjalk is a type of Groninger tjalk with low cargo holds (2,30 meters). These ships were built for the calm inland waters.


The back accommodation caused the ship to have a higher back (pavilioen) then a front She was more square then nicely curved. The handle for the rudder came quit far on the back deck, typical for these tjalks.

These days, pavilioentjalken are, just like the other tjalken, mainly used as a house bat or for sailing competitions.


See also: Luxe Motor

A Wad-en-Sontvaarder is a Luxe Motor with seagoing capabilities.

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Last updated on: Tuesday, 20 September, 2016 11:00 PM
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