Most children learn to cycle by the age of five and I was no exception. Since then bicycles were a natural part of my life. My parents didn’t drive, which was unusual even forty years ago. I’ve had several bikes. Some were stolen from me, others I had sold and changed for another bicycle. I’ve never been very much into one-purpose bikes such as racing bicycles. They really are luxury horses and I want my bicycle to be a multifunctional workhorse. It must be suited to carry shopping bags, but also bring me to another town if I want to, even in rough weather conditions. The average city bicycle with a gear mechanism is strong and good enough for me. It sounds a bit stereotype, but it is true that body and mind become one on a bicycle. You enjoy the landscape, exercise, the air and living creatures you meet on your way. Another nice aspect of a bicycle is that it isn’t expensive. I’ve been owner of several bicycle brands, none of them were bad, but Raleigh is the one I’ve been most familiar with. Usually I ride an English or Dutch brand.
I’ve had another vehicle dream since I first set eyes on them: boats and yachting. Water and a boat represent freedom, beauty and space to me. I can’t help it, but the sight of a boat cruising the elements makes me long to be on it and travel. In my immediate circle of family and friends nobody possessed a boat, so in my childhood yachting was restricted to cruises or renting, and briefly to outboard scouting. To me a boat must meet the same requirements as a push bike. It must be multifunctional, solid and it needn’t be a luxury horse, which is not the same as poor and ugly. It must be simple to handle too. In that case one ends up with the vlet: the traditional work and play boat for beginners and professional users alike. The vlet isn’t an exclusively Dutch ship type, it’s been known in Britain too. It thanks it’s solidity to the round bottom and the fact that it is usually made from iron. It is an iron ship, so it is possible to leave it in deeply frozen water. In winter you must remove the battery and keep the propeller under water, or remove the entire motor from the ship. This is not problematic, since the vlet often has an outboard motor.
Last year I finally decided to get my own ship and a vlet I chose. Beenakker is the brand of my ship. As far as I know it’s not produced anymore, but there is still a large occasion market for them. The Beenakker is the perfect ship for smaller lakes and rivers, also within the city, which is a common situation in a country with many waterways like the Netherlands. It is solid enough to sail lakes as large as Lake Michigan too, at a maximum wind speed of 5 Beaufort. However, it is too small for the open sea, let alone the huge ocean waves. It is usually shorter than 45 feet and slower than 12.5 miles per hour, which allows you to sail it without a license in this country. It needs regular painting, especially on rusty spots. It uses some 4 gallons of gasoline per 38 miles. I sail a gallon in 2,5 hours with a 15 horsepower engine. A little oil must be added to the gasoline, the amount differs per motor type and brand. The prices range between 3,000 and 60,000(!) euros. It’s all in an easy to handle and solid ship, well-suited for beginning water sporters, yet strong enough for larger, more challenging waterways. A boat to enjoy thoroughly!