Erne to Inverness – Dutch lady sails to promote wellnes

In May this year an epic adventure will begin when a 126-year-old traditional Dutch Sailing Barge and its ‘Motley Crew’ will sail from the gentle waters of Lough Erne, to the breezy eastern Scottish coast and back again.
This “barge for well-being” will attend not one but two maritime festivals along the way, raising funds for the mental well-being charity Inspire-wellbeing.
The vessel taking on this journey is called Drie Gebroeders. The ship began her working life on the waterways of the Netherlands in 1898, carrying cargoes of farm produce, manure and bricks with a family of six sleeping in the small area which is now just her engine room.
When World War II broke out she became the property of the invading German army, but she survived to continue her work after the war until it was transformed into a houseboat around 20 years ago.
An adventurous crew sailed her from Kent, around the south coast of England, and up the Irish coast where she moored in several parts of the country before moving inland to Lough Erne in December 2022.
The ‘Motley Crew’, so named for its diversity and spontaneity, draws from all ages and sections of the community.
“When Drie Gebroeders first hove into my sights I was so impressed. I love helping to crew her, giving people a chance to be a part of the new chapter in her story, whilst finding a new focus in their own lives,” crew member Becky Thomas explained.
The itinerary for the trip includes the Antrim Coast up to Rathlin Sound Maritime Festival, some of the Western Scottish Isles, the Caledonian Canal, the Scottish Traditional Boats Festival in Portsoy, and on the return voyage where the Crinan Canal will be navigated.
Danielle Sheridan, Fundraising Manager for Inspire, said, “We are delighted to be the chosen charity partner for Barge for Wellbeing. Hilary and the team have an exceptional challenge ahead of them but we will be cheering them on every step of the way.
“Inspire conducted polling in December 2023 that showed 60 per cent of people won’t open up about their mental health because they don’t want to worry others,” she added.
More details on the trip may be had on request from and the story will unfold on the website or Instagram @the_old_dutch_barge or Facebook DutchSailingBargeDG.
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