Freedom is a loose English translation of Vrijheid and it is the feeling of freedom and mobility that a “lifeafloat” gives the owners of this classic ship.
Bruce and Caroline are both New Zealanders, having lived and worked in the UK for more years than they care to admit, most of those years on board Vrijheid, her current home mooring is in Gravesend, Kent. Vrijheid is 92ft (28m) long and built to a traditional Dutch barge design known as a Stijlsteven. During her working life she traded between Holland and Germany on the Rhine River carrying bulk food products and general cargo until her retirement from trade in 1952. She was converted to living accommodation in the years that followed and Bruce and Caroline bought her in 1993 sailing her from the Netherlands to the UK. Her interior and systems have been sympathetically extensively upgraded and modernised resulting in a very comfortable London home while still retaining her historically important heritage.
Vrijheid is seen regularly on the river, her owners require little excuse to slip their moorings for a weekend’s cruising. They have taken her as far upstream as her size will allow – Dorchester – as well as regular trips to Whitstable and their favorite haunt of the Swale at the mouth of the Thames.
“Believe me, my young friend, there is nothing — absolutely nothing — half so much worth doing as simply messing about in boats.”
– from “Wind in the Willows” by Kenneth Grahame.