After 120 years, Merwelands Shipyard is into yachts

ROTTERDAM _ Merwelands Shipyard here has begun taking on yacht projects. At first blush, a vast cultural shift for a yard that has been toiling in the Port of Rotterdam for over 120 years. It builds and maintains the 70 or so launches that nudge ocean-going vessels from and into their docks 24/7. It also makes crew and passenger tenders, repairs pilot craft and, now also, yacht hulls.

Merwelands, says Leon Marijnissen, head of the yard’s yacht building initiative, boasts a great reservoir of experience.

“We manufacture in steel and aluminum,” he tells this newsletter. “Besides, we are one of the few Dutch yards mastering round-bilge building. We also shape all sheet metal ourselves. We work with a team of 6, but we can scale that up to 10.”

Right now, his yard is building the bare hulls of 2 Korvet yachts: 14m (46ft.) left,  and 18m. (59ft.) below. The Willem Nieland design that was a 2015 HISWA Boat of the Year and is marketed by Deep Water Yachts. Korvets can handle ocean conditions yet have a shallow draft for inland and tidal waters and can dry out on a shoal. Korvets are delivered unpolished and unpainted as aluminum creates a protective oxide coating.

Merwelands is also working on an 8m (26ft.) Korvet, a cutting-edge concept for pleasure or commuting. It can go on a trailer and is unsinkable. It will be launched at the 2019 HISWA Amsterdam Boat Show. Says Deep Water Yachts’ Peter Bost. “We’ll show it as a prototype. We are very pleased with the work of Merwelands. They are professionals delivering high-quality.”

Marijnissen sees more projects coming but adds, “I cannot now talk about that, but we have serious contacts from the yacht building sector.”

His yard has an unusual legacy. As the home yard of the Rotterdam boatmen association ‘Eendracht,’ it looks after its fleet. Association members dock ocean-going vessels of +75m (+246ft.), a job once done by muscled men in rowboats. The group’s Dutch acronym for the association _ KRVE _ refers to a ‘rowers’ association.