Living on a houseboat and what needs to be considered.

Houseboat profile:

Houseboat Name: D'n eel
Age: 100 years
Birthplace: Holland
History: former gravel cutter, then church ship

Nom: Isa Leitch
Profession: Naturopath (
Location: Niederschöneweide

What kind of houseboat are we on?

This is an old gravel cutter called D'n Ael.

How old is the houseboat?

The residential ship is around 100 years old; in the past, the ship was used to transport gravel and sand back and forth. The special thing about the houseboat is that it has a captain's bunk at the front. That was something special for back then. Otherwise, the captain had to sleep outside on the ship. Then the church bought the ship and sailed around reading the masses.

What size is your ship?

Almost five meters wide and 25 meters long — it has around 70 square meters of living space.

How long have you been living on your houseboat?

Consistent for a year. I saw the boat and immediately fell in love — I kind of thought it was just mine.

When did your love for living on water start? Was there a specific occasion for you?

I went to England for the first time about ten years ago houseboat discovered for me. We rented canal boats there. First for day trips, then for holidays. Some time later, we also lived on a boat for a few weeks over the winter. But I've never been on a boat for more than four weeks in a row. There are different boats in England than in Germany, canal boats, so-called narrow boats, these are 2-3 m wide, ours was 3 m x 16 m. But somehow built in such a way that you can actually live on them quite well. We had a bedroom, kitchen with living unit and a bathroom. The boats are knitted a bit more simply. You always have to stand outside when driving because the tiller you are working with is in the back. But you can also drive alone, dock and lock the locks, as they are much lighter.

Did it take a long time for you to fulfill your wish to live on the houseboat?

In England, I started to notice how calming water is and how nice it is to live on water. When all the kids were out of the house, I really wanted to go to Berlin. Three of my children live here and my grandson. As luck would have it, I found a naturopath practice that I was able to take over, but I actually only wanted to find out about certain metabolic devices. That was a good year ago. Instead of moving into an apartment, I wanted to get on the water. It took about 10 years from idea to implementation.

Did you bring furniture from your old house?

No, they were all already on. I had the chairs re-strung, the rug was necessarily put in last winter, but it will be replaced by a new, monochrome one. I have a huge table that I wanted to put in here, but unfortunately it doesn't fit through normal access. I had even considered whether I should make the window bigger or have a hole cut in the ceiling because I really would love to have him here — but I'm afraid that won't work.

How did you find this berth for?

I actually had a confirmation of a berth at Tempelhof Harbour and then I bought this ship. Then it turned out unfavorably that the place was gone again, but luckily I was able to live in Rummelsburger Bucht as a sublet. When the original tenant needed his place back in April, I found this berth. That was close just before, but I'm more than happy with this position.

So you don't miss Rummelsburger Bucht with a view of the harbour kitchen?

Everything has its advantages, but here I have more peace and quiet and can sit outside. The other place was very present, on weekends, people were always looking into the boat. It's nice when you're bored, but sometimes it's just a bit much.

Is there a place in general where you would like to lie?

It's already my favorite place in the middle of Berlin.

Where would you like to go on vacation with a houseboat?

I have already with houseboats On vacation in Italy. Even though the houseboats there look more like motor yachts or large plastic ships, it was very nice to cruise through the rivers and canals there — even around Venice. I would love to drive through France. The landscape must be very beautiful. Although I have heard that the canals in France are not being dredged and that it is becoming increasingly difficult to travel through there. But you have to have plenty of time for that. When I'm on the road or when I set off, I always take twice as much time as I actually need. You never know what's going to happen.

What can happen, for example?

You always have to be prepared for something to happen that you didn't expect. Two weeks ago, for example, I wanted to go on the Müggelsee round with friends. There we took a break at Lake Langensee. As we were about to drive on, I noticed that the pump from the main tank in the day tank wasn't working and that there wasn't so much diesel in the day tank anymore. We really had to drive back very slowly. The funny thing is: You can travel with your ship for hours and yet you're only five minutes away from your berth. You could also have walked here from Lake Langensee — in theory.

Is there anything you miss on the houseboat?

I feel very comfortable on my houseboat. The only dilemma is: I'm actually not a person who likes to live alone. I'm living alone for the first time in my life. I have lots of siblings and lots of kids. Of course, there are also advantages to being alone. But I would prefer a large houseboat with a shared apartment — that would be my ideal. It would have to be very big, probably so big that you can't drive it anymore.

Would floating homes be an alternative?

No, absolutely not. Another alternative would probably be — but that is completely illusory in the middle of Berlin — to have berths where you simply live with other houseboat owners with whom you get along well. So that the community is all around it.

Do you have a particular favorite spot here on houseboat?

When the weather is nice, I often like sitting outside in the wheelhouse. And in winter, I often sit at the top of the wheelhouse.

Is there a particular season that you like the most?

Summer is my favorite.

What challenges are there in winter?

The low temperature is actually the biggest challenge. The houseboat technology in here is very old. Sometimes it breaks down, then I have to let it cool down, kick it a few times, then turn it on again and see if it works. Sometimes it took me three to four hours before it worked again. And it's not just the cold itself that you fight with warm clothes, hot water bottles and woolen blankets. When it's minus 25 degrees outside in harsh winters, you start to panic and think: What happens if things freeze over here now? It is physically demanding when it is so cold. Sometimes I set the alarm an hour earlier to quickly make myself a cup of tea and turn on the heat at six or seven degrees. Then I went back to bed for an hour until it was so warm that I didn't stick to the floor. That's why I've now bought a new heater.

Do you keep yourself particularly fit in winter in order to stay on track in terms of health?

Simply living on a boat requires more than just living in an apartment. Just because I'm moving all the time, climbing up and down, fetching water, hauling the hydrant upstairs, hauling groceries here, hauling boxes — that's enough physical things that I have to do to live my daily life. That's when I cycle — not as often as I want and not as often as I should. And otherwise I am a naturopath, specializing in nutrition and chronic illnesses. But being fully aware and implementing them are still two different things. But it usually works.

Why did you want to move to Berlin, what do you particularly like here?

Berlin offers a beautiful combination of nature and city. There is an awful lot of water here, lots of forest. I saw a woodpecker feeding its young in Plänterwald a few weeks ago. In the middle of town. I absolutely love that! Events also include everything from cinema, theatre to dancing to exhibitions. If you feel like doing something, you can always find something.

Perhaps you can tell us your favorite place in Berlin?

There are lots of nice places. I don't like it when there are so many tourists somewhere. It must have something original in some way. My favorite district is Schöneberg, although it is already a relatively large district. I like parks and I like walking along the water. I also find the Prinzessinnengärten beautiful, for example.

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About the author
Tim Krenke

As an experienced houseboat expert, I will be happy to answer any questions you may have about buying a houseboat. I am looking forward to your message!

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