About us

Hello! We are Martin and Sarah Lee (or M & S to our friends). We live on our Dutch Barge Skûtsje at the Top of the river Thames in Lechlade-on-Thames, Gloucestershire. Martin is a gardener (almost retired!) and has always loved boats and anything boaty. Until recently I was a university lecturer, but have now left to concentrate on our boating business that includes self catering accommodation on our narrowboat and running copper wirework craft courses.

When Martin and I first met I knew nothing about boats! But now we enjoy writing about our experiences renovating, cruising, and generally about life on our 55ft Dutch barge Skûtsje, our 50 ft narrowboat Lark Rise III, and more recently, our new little barge called Aaltje. You can read about our journey home with Skûtsje Here.

We hope you enjoy our website, and find some of the items we share useful or interesting.

Our new recruit in 2018

Frobisher in his new harness at 6 months old

At the latter end of 2018, we welcomed a new recruit on board We are now the proud owners of a cream British Shorthair cat from Jococa British Shorthairs

His name is Frobisher (Jococa Bean Sprout). He was born on 20th September 2018. He is now our resident ships cat and self-appointed Admiral on board our boats.

Our boats

Skûtsje and Lark Rise III side by side in the snow. Both have woodburning stoves that keep the boats cosy in the winter.

Skûtsje

Skûtsje on a stormy morning in Hommerts, Friesland bringing her home to Lechlade
Skûtsje on a stormy morning in Hommerts, Friesland bringing her home to Lechlade

Dutch barges are divided into different classes. Our barge comes under the class Tjalk. In addition, the sailing barges developed in Friesland are called Skûtjes. Originally they were built as cargo boats, but many have been made into houseboats or have been restored and used in sailing races known as skûtsjeseilen in The Netherlands.

Skûtsje was built in 1909 and is 16.76 metres in length by 3.57 metres wide. She weighs 38.238 tons and is powered by a 110 hp Volvo Penta engine. Her hull is made of riveted steel, and she was converted for leisure use (by having a superstructure added) in 1954. You can learn more about her and see some early photos of her on the dutch Skûtsje History website.

and it is possible that she was used for transporting grain or tulip bulbs. Her original name was The Exchange. She has had five owners and as many names! When we bought her she was called Hiljo which was a combination of the surnames of the previous owners. We decided if she wasn’t going to stay in her native Friesland, then we would at least acknowledge her Friesland heritage with choosing something dutch for her name, so we simply called her Skûtsje. In addition, we continue to fly a Friesland flag every day, and we fly the orange wimpel streamer on Kings Day.

As she was converted for leisure use, we are making some additions and upgrading her to make her suitable as a year-round liveaboard in the UK.

Lark Rise III

Lark Rise III moored up at Buscot lock River Thames. She is used as static self catering accommodation
Lark Rise III moored up at Buscot lock River Thames. She is used as static self catering accommodation

In the same way that Dutch barges are divided into different categories, narrowboats also come in a variety of styles. Lark Rise III is a 50ft semi-traditional narrowboat. She also runs with a Volvo Penta engine.

She is not as old as Skûtsje as she only dates back to the 1980’s. However, in some ways she is a little more versatile than Skûtsje, as she can travel along the whole of the canal system in the UK being only 6ft 10 inches wide.

We are currently upgrading her to be available very soon as self-catering static accommodation here in Lechlade-on-Thames. She will hopefully be available to book from the end of October 2019. Please do get in touch if you are interested in staying on her by emailing us at craftyboaters@gmail.com

Aaltje

Our newest boat to our fleet. A small skûtsje called Aaltje
Our newest boat to our fleet. A small skûtsje called Aaltje

Aaltje is the newest member of our fleet. As you can see by the photo she is a work in progress. We do not know so much about her other than she is a small skûtsje that was built around 1930 in Friesland. She is 20ft smaller than our big skûtsje (confusingly also named Skûtsje as well as being one).

We will update this section when we know a little more about her. However, we didn’t go to The Netherlands to get this little barge, we towed her up the River Thames from Eynsham to Lechlade in October 2019.

Publications

Articles

3. Hing, M. (2019) Meet Martin and Sarah Lee: No Argy Bargy! Ripples Community Magazine June, 31. 

2. Brexit, paure e speranze lungo il Tamigi. Reportage (2019), Skytg24, di Marzio G. Mian e Massimo Di Nonno, 15th March https://tg24.sky.it/mondo/approfondimenti/brexit-reportage-tamigi.html

1. Lee, S.L.F. (2018) The Life of a Working Couple on a Dutch Barge. Blue Flag, Dutch Barge Association. 128, 18-20.

Credit on other sites

In addition to our publications, we have credit for some of our videos through Storyful for the following sites

7. Sky News (2019) Pink fog looms over parts of the UK this morning. Available at: https://news.sky.com/video/pink-fog-descended-over-parts-of-the-uk-this-morning-11644773 Accessed on 30/05/2019

6. News.com.au (2019) Pink fog shrouds parts of Western England. Available at: https://www.news.com.au/video/id-5348771529001-6005672875001/pink-fog-shrouds-parts-of-western-england Accessed on 30/05/2019

5. Rumble (2019) Pink fog shrouds parts of Western England. Available at: https://rumble.com/v7656r-pink-fog-shrouds-parts-of-western-england.html Accessed on 30/05/2019

4. msn (2019) Pink fog shrouds parts of Western England. Available at: https://www.msn.com/en-gb/video/other/pink-fog-descends-over-parts-of-the-uk/vi-BBTWyPf Accessed on 30/05/2019

3. msn (2019) Pink fog shrouds parts of Western England. Available at: https://www.msn.com/ja-jp/money/other/pink-fog-shrouds-parts-of-western-england/vp-BBTVWOT Accessed on 30/05/2019

2. The Weekly Times (2019) Pink fog shrouds parts of Western England. Available at: https://www.weeklytimesnow.com.au/news/national/pink-fog-shrouds-parts-of-western-england/video/45ed998cca6b9f5abf8bfc99e30c6943 Accessed on 30/05/201

1. The Australian (2019) Pink fog shrouds parts of Western England. Available at: https://www.theaustralian.com.au/video/id-5348771529001-6005672875001/Pink-Fog-Shrouds-Parts-of-Western-England Accessed on 30/05/2019