A Dutch barge was just a Dutch barge before we started thinking about buying and living on one. But as it turns out there are different categories of them, Tjalk, Aak, Luxemotor, Skûtsje are a few. But generally they were all built as cargo boats to be used on the inland waterways of the Netherlands. Again, generally they are flat bottomed boats with sails, engines, or both. Some have leeboards, leeboards are large flat boards on the side of the boat (they look a bit like big paddles, but in fact they not actually paddles, but boards that can be dropped below the waterline to act as a keel when sailing). But in essence these boats performed the same function as narrowboats did in the UK transporting goods around the country before the birth of modern means of transport by road.
Dutch barge racing or Skûtsje racing is a popular sport in the Netherlands, and in Friesland Skûtsjesilen (Skûtsje sailing) is a popular event amongst tourists. You can find out more about Skûtsjesilen from the Skûtsje Sailing Central Commission.
However, Hiljo is not kitted out as a sailing/racing boat. But she does have a mast (shorter than those used on racing Tjalks), and one steadying sail. That’s just about all we will need, I can’t see us bombing up and down in full sail on the Thames!