My Travel Blog

Rabelo is Officially Mine!

Today was a very exciting day. I officially became the owner of a BFB.  For those not familiar with this yachting acronym that would be Big F-ing Boat/barge. Rabelo was built in 1929.  When we pulled the old girl out of the water, before signing the final purchase documents, the surveyor announced that she was in fine shape.   For the past 83 years Rabelo had been maintained as a treasured member of the family.

She is 127 ft., a small ship, weighing 150 tons with plenty of interior volume and deck space.  She is literally a moving home that is in need of some re-decorating…  Lisa can hardly wait to get her hands on my wallet!   Some of Rabelo’s systems will also need to be modernized but for the most part – all appears well.

Fortunately I have my friend Wilco, a Dutchmen that use to own a boat yard.  He is responsible for making changes to things like the fuel and water systems along with adding an air-conditioning system and sound proofing to the engine room.

It’s a gray overcast morning with the temperature hovering around 25 degrees. Inside my floating home it is toasty warm as I can see white exhaust coming out of the heater vent.  The decks are covered in a layer of frost and the Meuse River is a mass of moving ice.

The owners had done me a favor and moved Rabelo from La Havre, France to Namur, Belgium.  I said goodbye in my best fractured French to Mr. and Mrs. Deprez, the former owners, and their friends. They had spent the morning packing their car along with a small trailer, but it was obvious they were not going to have enough room.  An argument ensued.  The end result was that I became the beneficiary of a case of toilet paper, a wine holder and most important a brand new washing machine. When the trailer was finally secured everyone had to take pictures of the official passing of the gavel.

A pose with Mr. and Mrs. Deprez, the former owners, and their friends

It was no doubt as emotional for them as it was for me.  The Deprez’s had spent many a wonderful vacation aboard their big baby, and now it was time to say goodbye.  With one last handshake their BFB had a new owner.  I assured them that I would take good care of her.

As soon as everyone was gone we started unpacking the four large suitcases of supplies I had brought.  My friend Scott went to work organizing the galley, as he was going to do most of the cooking on our trip to The Netherlands.  Wilco, and I went back to the original owners cabin and worked out a solution for turning one of the bedrooms into a useable bathroom.  When we were done unpacking we went to a local supermarket to provision for our upcoming voyage.

Shopping in a foreign market is always an adventure, but it was nothing compared to what we were about to face!

-Tom Miller


About the Author:

Tom Miller graduated from the University of Southern California with a Bachelor of Science in Geology. He is a consummate adventurer with over 1,000 dives as a recreational scuba diver, and an avid sailor who has traveled 65,000 miles throughout the Pacific including the Hawaiian Islands. Miller has also cruised the canals of Europe on his canal barge and given numerous lectures on cruising the canals of Europe, as well as sailing in the South Pacific. Piloting is also an interest of Miller's, and He has completed over 1,000 hours flying everything from small Cessnas to Lear jets.