Friends and guests, past present and future:
Rijnstroom IV was almost destroyed by fire on Thursday 21st of May 2015, see link below.
The cause of the fire is still uncertain, but it would appear to be the result of an electrical problem, somewhere in the control panel behind the helm. The fire took hold very quickly in the timber structure of the wheelhouse, and the new roof which had only just been built, and has completely destroyed the entire structure. The heat was so intense that it completely melted the original cast alloy helm wheel, and all the other barge controls.
The fire spread down the back stairs into the Captains Cabin which had been made up ready for the bank holiday weekend guests, and destroyed the bathroom, closet, entrance and ceiling. The wall mounted TV melted and set fire to the carpet!
The fire also spread down the main saloon stairs and across the ceiling, destroying the entrance to the saloon which included my desk and most of our personal effects, papers and documents. As the superheated smoke, estimated at between 800 to 1,000c, spread across the vaulted ceiling it melted anything plastic below it, and set fire to the furniture and surroundings.
This all happened in less than 30 minutes as the Bembridge & Ryde's finest rushed to the scene and got the fire under control. In less than an hour it was out and the full extent of the damage could be seen. The fire door at the end of the galley did its job, and there is no damage, apart from boot prints from mucky firemen as they made sure there was no one else on board, and we wont be holding that against them, as they are all heroes in our view!
So what of the future for Rijnstroom?
We are very pleased to be able to let you know that none of the barge's hull or superstructure has been damaged, apart from burning off all the old paint, so she can and will be re-built! We are already working on plans for a brand new Wheelhouse, and are considering all our options for the Captains Cabin, which can be re-built exactly as it was, and the saloon & galley area which we will announce plans for as soon as we have completed them.
A realistic time table for the re-build is about 12 months but we will aim for completion by next Easter 2016. A clearer picture of the exact time table will be published on the website as soon as our plans have been finalised.
We are extremely grateful to the wonderful men and women of the Isle of Wight fire service whose prompt action and bravery prevented the entire barge from being destroyed, and our thanks go out to all our guests, especially those booked in with us for the holiday weekend, who had to find somewhere else to stay at the very last minute, for your understanding and patience.
Rijnstroom IV may well be down at the moment, but she is by no means out! She will be back better than ever, we just need a little time!
Rob & Elaine Lowe