JOURE – “There’ll always be a market for our wooden boats,” says Aaldert de Jonge. Don’t snicker. His shipyard has been in business since 1653. New York was home then to 2,000 Dutch settlers. And Rembrandt was 47.
From Rembrandt to now, Shipyard De Jong has always found clients for its wooden boats but today, its mix of retro and modern serves a niche market. De Jonge acquired the yard in 2009. “A unique opportunity,” he says. “Couldn’t pass that up!”
His yard builds, maintains, repairs, remodels and restores boats. It is now building two clinker-built ‘vletten’ — sleek, open cockpit, classic tenders that are richly varnished, have a smooth sheer and a fist-thick, wrap-around rope fender on the rim of the hull.
De Jong makes them in three sizes: 6.2, 7.5 and 8.4m (20, 25 and 28ft). The two, now under construction, come from the same teak trunk and are built upside down. “We start with the keel beam and work our way down. When the hull is done, we flip it over and install the the frames and floors. Then we sand and paint,” says De Jonge.
Over time, his tenders have adapted to market demands. Rounded seats have appeared fore and aft. The steering position has moved to midship. The tenders have custom-made brass fittings. But that rope fender is still hand-made. Power comes from a three-cylinder, 30HP Yanmar.
Shipyard De Jong shuns polyester but not aluminum which it uses below the waterline of a new, Vripack-designed 8.5m tender. De Jonge: “That is a roomy and fast boat, powered by a 320HP Yanmar,” says De Jonge.
Nor is he averse to mixing classic and modern in the resuscitation of an old, decrepit 15m (49ft) police boat. Its superstructure’s paneling and main bulkhead have been removed. The hull has been sand-blasted; the cockpit is self-draining. The steering position now sits amidships. The new boat will have hybrid propulsion involving a 110HP Yanmar and a Bell Marine electric motor.
“The boat makes a statement,” says De Jonge. “If the combination is right, we don’t shy away from modern materials!”
His yard is also making its 40th daysailer of slatted mahogany.
The boat is popularly known as a Sixteen Squared (the mainsail measures just under 16 square meters). Legions of Dutch boaters learned to sail in that boat of which in total more than 4,455 have been built over the years. And it is still being made!