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Janetje's history



Barge Nilaya's had three names in her lifetime
Janetje, Vitesse and now Nilaya



Launched - 29th August 1922 

Nilaya was launched on 29th August 1922 as the motorschip Jannetje. She was named after the owners wife and built by 'Boot de Woubrugge' in the Netherlands, possibly the finest barge builders in existance at the time. From that day forward, she would always be known as a 'Boot' boat and over the years I've met numerous retired Dutch boat owners who remember seeing her distinctive lines when she worked as a cargo barge on the waterways of Holland and Belgium.


She was one of the first generation of dedicated motor barges and fitted with a 26hp Kromhout "Oliemotor" or deisel engine.  Janetje was one of a vast fleet of new fangled 'motor' barges being construced as barges evolved from horse drawn to the era of being motorised. Her old engine was replaced by the current 'modern' Mercedes OM321 engine in 1955. It's still going strong too!


Jannetje was lengthened in 1927 and carried potatoes around Friesland and the Ijjselmeer until 1937 when she relocated to Antwerp in Belgium. The above 1930's picture is of Janetje fully laden with potatoes in the Hague, Netherlands. You can see laundry drying on a washing line, so was the family owners were obviously enjoying a day or two off.


Renamed Vitesse on 9th September 1937, she carried cargo throughout Belgium until world war two intervened. Together with hundreds of other barges, Vitesse was requisitioned by Germany's Nazi government for the planned invasion of southern England or "Operation Sea lion" as it was to be known. Thankfully it never took place and she survived the war, eventually being returned to her owner by the General authorised for the Dutch reconstruction department in Rotterdam.


She retired from commercial work in the early 1980's because her size and capacity no longer made her commercially viable. Luckily she escaped being scrapped due to the exceptional condition of her riveted steel hull and beautiful counter stern. She was converted into a comfortable static houseboat until 2004 when I came upon her in Drachten. Thankfully Vitesse's mechanics were in excellent condition considering that she'd moved no more than a hundred miles in twenty years.


It was love at first sight and within two weeks I signed on the dotted line. She received her new name on the full moon of October 2004, Nilaya simply meaning 'Heaven' in Sanskrit. What's more amazing is that in all those years until I bought her, she'd only ever had one loving owner! The photograph below is of Janetje, cargo hold open, on the Ijjselmeer in Holland.


Since purchase, I have continually upgraded Barge Nilaya and every day, in every way, she gets better and better.