The Houseboats of Amsterdam

The Hendrika Maria alongside the Prinsengracht

The sitting room features comfy 50’s style easy chairs

How gear was stored when the museum was a working vessel

Entry to the head. What’s wrong with this picture?

Sleeping Nook: not for the claustrophobic

The museum even displays flyers for other houseboats for sale
All houseboats must have utility hookups to shore  |  photos and post by Larry Clinton

On a late April visit to Amsterdam, Jane and I discovered the Houseboat Museum, and were struck by the parallels between the Dutch waterfront community and our own.

The museum is housed in the Hendrika Maria, a former freighter, built in 1914. Until the 1960s the boat primarily transported sand and gravel, then was converted into a residence for more than 20 years. Today it is still furnished with a homey décor, supplemented with informative plaques and display materials.

The Hendrika Maria is moored alongside the Prinsengracht in the center of the city, bordering the Jordaan district known for beautiful houses, nice restaurants and original shops.

We entered at the stern, down five steps. Measuring 23 x 4.5m, with living space of 80m², this houseboat is equal in size to the average Amsterdam apartment and has plenty of headroom. After registering, we were given laminated guides and were free to explore at our own pace.

Plumbing is similar to our homes, though the terminology varies a bit: “Wastewater is pumped away by a mill-pump which is located behind the toilet. The mill-pump mulches the waste and pumps all waste water through a small pipe and into the sewer system.” As we left the museum, we could see the gas, water, electricity, telephone and sewage lines connecting the houseboat to shore.

The museum is part of a 22-stop self-guided houseboat walking tour, which brought out other similarities to our community. There are far more houseboats in Amsterdam─2256─but as in Sausalito, there are no available berths. Amsterdam houseboats cost slightly less than homes but require a lot more maintenance. Plus, owners pay mooring rent, and taxes, based on the houseboat’s value.
While most of the houseboats in Amsterdam were originally freighters or canal barges, there are a number that were built from scratch as floating homes, some with concrete barges. It is an eclectic, colorful community much like our own, with whimsical touches like those on our own docks.

At the Houseboat Museum’s website, you can find more information, including a link to a PDF guide for the walking tour.