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It took nearly five years before Phil Hart found a boat that he felt met all his needs for living aboard. He found Avontuur in Vlaardingen, the Netherlands and brought her over to the UK to a mooring in Chertsey, Surrey, on the River Thames, where he now lives aboard. She is a 100ft (30m) long ship of a traditional Dutch design known as a Luxemotor.

She was called Cornelis when Phil found her but he reverted to her original name which he preferred – Avontuur translates as ‘adventure’.

She was built in 1912 and spent most of her life carrying sand until 1966, when the skipper who had worked her for many years bought her and converted her for living aboard. Phil bought Avontuur directly from him so he has a good knowledge of her more recent history.

Phil has lived onboard for two years and during that time has refitted much of her interior which was in need of some modernisation. It’s not quite finished yet but it’s getting close. The skipper’s quarters in the stern of the ship are still in their original condition, so Phil plans to restore them to their former glory.

Avontuur can occasionally be seen travelling the upper reaches of the Thames as Phil likes to slip his mooring and go exploring when work permits. She contains everything needed for a life afloat when travelling, thanks to a large generator which can supply enough electricity to power all the ship’s systems. She has gas and electric cooking facilities as well as a diesel-fired central heating system.

Phil chose a life afloat because he liked the idea of an alternative lifestyle and doesn’t regret his decision for one minute. He loves the tranquility of the river and the community spirit of the other boaters in the area.

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