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Historical Details

Sources for this information include Mr. Piet Sybranda, his mother, Mr. Wim deRidder, his wife and the historical archives The Haag.

1928

  • Bertha was ordered by Mr. Willibrordus de Ridder (senior)
  • Bertha was registered on 7th August 1928
  • The purchase was partially funded by a bank and from a loan from a Mr. Visser (fellow bargeman who mostly hauled cattle feed, e.g. hay)
  • Bertha was built at the Dageraad, Fa. Boot Shipyard, in Woubrugge
  • Business set up to dredge sand and gravel from riverbeds, store it in a yard in Leiden, and ship it to clients, mostly in the south of Holland
  • Mooring place: near current cinema in Leiden centre

1930s

  • 1929 to 1930: Crisis years for Dutch boats. Height of depression; overcapacity of tonnage
  • Mr. de Ridder Sr. lengthened Bertha by an additional 5 meters to 38.54 meters (riveted construction)
  • Kalffdek added to increase the minimum freeboard
  • Mrs. de Ridder left Bertha to live on shore and help run properties (small rental homes). Mr. de Ridder Sr. came home on Sundays, and worked the other 6 days/week. Mr. (Wim) de Ridder Jr. remembers his father being uncomfortable on land, and always being happy to go back to Bertha

1940s

  • Wim de Ridder returned (reluctantly) from serving as soldier in Indonesia, to help his father to run the barge
  • German invasion of Netherlands. Many Luxe Motors and other ships ended up in the Russian lakes and the Mediterranean, and many were also converted to troop landing craft for Operation Sealion (the planned invasion of England). However, Bertha was forced into service of the occupying military forces for helping to build the military bases needed in Holland
  • Late in 1944 (possibly November) Bertha was based in the Ammer River. German troops were stationed on one side of river, Allied Polish forces on the other side. In order to prevent the Allies from making use of the barges, German authorities informed Mr. de Ridder Sr. that they would sink Bertha after giving him time to remove household/personal belongings. In order to prevent this, the de Ridders, together with 7 other barges in the same predicament, moved their barges to a shallow part of the Ammer, and ran them aground at high water. However, the Germans located them later and blew a hole in the hull with an explosive charge. Bertha lay partly submerged in this place for the remainder of the war (7 months)
  • In March 1945 the liberation of Netherlands took place. Mr. De Ridder Sr. then hired a local farmer to weld a patch over the hole in the hull at low tide. Bertha was then pumped out and floated, pulled off at high tide, and towed to a shipyard in Ramsdonksveer for a complete overhaul, including all new woodwork in the skipper’s quarters (roef). At this time Bertha was still operational with the original 2-clylinder Kromout ‘Gloei-kop’. During this overhaul the wheel house was enlarged.

1950s

  • Between 1950 and 1955, the ‘Gloei-kop’ was replaced by a 3 cylinder Kromhout.
  • In 1955, Wim de Ridder took over the barge from his father, married, and took his new wife to live on the boat with him (she did not come from a barge family)
  • For the next 5 years, business was very good. Sand and gravel (from the Maas River) continued to be the main cargo, for all the post-war construction projects, e.g. hospitals, airports, etc. During this time they had no children. Mrs. de Ridder remembered this as a carefree time. Going out to eat with friends was a common treat, with Maastricht as the most cozy (gezellig) harbour.

1960s

  • Wim de Ridder kept the family tradition going until January 1960 when he decided to change career to that of a jeweller. Bertha was then sold to Raaijmaekers (sand and gravel company) on the Roode Vaart waterway near Moerdijk, where she was renamed Roode Vaart. 
  • Roode Vaart stayed with this company for two years before being sold to Ruurd Sijbranda in Leuwaarden in March 1962. During this time, ‘Nova Cura’, as she was renamed, was used as a general cargo ship around the Dutch waterways.

1980s

  • In October 1988 Nova Cura was taken over by Ruurd’s son, Pieter who carried on as a single general freight skipper. At this time the Kromhout was replaced by a Scania DSi 11 (R. 80) delivering 230 pk. At a later point the cargo capacity was increased to 302.963 m3.

2000s

  • 2000/2001 Piet decided that he would sell the ship in order to purchase a 50 meter ship (617 tons) and still use it as a single manned general freight ship.
  • We purchased Nova Cura in March 2002 and then directly began the restoration and conversion process.

Details of the ribs (spaanten) can be found in this XLS spreadsheet download.