Dutch Barge Tjalk

A Tjalk is the product of centuries of evolution in shipbuilding. Already in the seventeenth century there were ships in which characteristics of the current tjalken can be recognized. Up until the last century, the ships were built of wood; around 1880, iron construction started to take off, which was completely replaced by steel construction in the early 20th century. These Tjalk-like ships were the most common sailing cargo ships on the Dutch inland waterways at the end of the 19th and the beginning of the 20th century. They are recognizable by their rectangular shape, the curved bow, the recessed bulwarks at the front and aft and the attached rudder. The bottom is flat, like most larger inland vessels. The length usually varied between 15 and 25 meters; the tonnage is between 20 and 150 tons. The width was a quarter to a fifth of the length. As already mentioned, Tjalken were freight ships that carried all types of cargo. In some cases, the ships were also used as shop ships (for example, pot ships) or for transporting fairground attractions.

Most Tjalken were inhabited by the skipper's family. The larger Tjalken of the inland navigation had a relatively large cabin according to contemporary concepts. The smaller Tjalken had a low cabin (often almost as high as the hatch cover) in connection with the crawling height to sail under bridges. In some Tjalken, the living quarters were located under the aft deck. If this was raised, we speak of 'Paviljoentjalken', otherwise of 'dekschepen'.

Although the shape of the Tjalk varies from shipyard to shipyard, it is still possible to recognize Tjalken from different regions. 

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