Early in our research into Neo Vita, we found her on StreetView, moored in Medemblik. You can see her on towards the end on the mooring, with the rear sun deck and burgundy colouring.
So, yesterday, when we went to see Neo Vita for the first time, naturally we checked where Google had directed us in the past.
No Neo Vita there!
As we had arranged the day before to meet Paul, one of Neo Vita’s ex-owners, we hopped into the car to continue our search. Off to the nearby town of Middenmeer.
(Actually, all along we knew Neo Vita had been moved. Mooring at Medemblik is far too expensive in summer, and in April, Paul had moved her to Middenmeer – nearby and much cheaper.)
Paul met us on his bicycle and we followed him towards the canal.
There she was.
Not the best photo; far, far, far t0o excited to compose something that could do justice to the vision resting in the dappled sunshine; with her beautiful lines; decked out with flags and bunting fluttering in the gentle breeze; resplendent in her shiny cream and burgundy paintwork.
Let’s say there were tears all round, and leave it at that.
Then Marianne presented us with the keys – more tears.
Then Lisette unlocked the wheelhouse and we went inside for the first time – more tears.
Impossible to really convey the wonder of those first few minutes as we crept around. Paul and Marianne waited patiently out on the aft deck while we took in the beauty of our boat. Awesome comes close, but still falls short. She was all we had imagined but real – and ours!
Marianne and Paul had placed a wonderful plate of lovely cakes and freshly brewed coffee so we could sit down at our table and recover. There was also a bottle of wine and two glasses set out for us to celebrate once we were alone.
This photo was taken a bit later, we were too much in the moment for photos at the time, so half the cakes have gone!
Also, flowers to welcome us.
We chatted, laughed, shared remembrances and dreams and finally set down to business: getting familiar with Neo Vita. We spent the next few hours going over her intensively, then had some lunch – also thoughtfully provided by Marianne and Paul. Next, our first cruise.
We did a spring from the canalside ( a , technical term for a mooring manoeuvre), reversed out and set off on a short cruise down the canal.
We took turns at the wheel and practised keeping position and a straight line.
It’s obviously a long way to the wheelhouse to the bow, and impossible to hear spoken communications from either point over the noise of the engine (which is really quite unobtrusive).
Most people use signs, but you can see the speaker low down on the mast, which also has a microphone, so both helm and crew can hear each other clearly. Never seen or heard of his setup before. She is the best barge!
We moored up again after turning Neo Vita around in the very broad canals that seem to be the norm in the Netherlands. We could look out of our windows at the canal as we packed away all our gear, and moved in.
We said farewell to Paul and Marianne, and asked them not to turn their phone off!
Next, we were off to the local supermarket to stock the lard and begin our wine cellar.
After a false start with the cooktop (needed to run the genny to allow it to work), our first meal was ready.
Night had fallen by then, on one of the best days of our lives, and so we retired to our enormous bed to prepare for the tomorrows aboard Neo Vita.