PROFILE: Gaastmeer Design

As part of an ongoing series of profiles of Dutch yacht designers and naval
architects, we talked to Gaastmeer Design about its large and varied portfolio

GAASTMEER – Look at Gaastmeer Design’s sprawling portfolio and you’ll be overwhelmed by the ambition and scope its work.

It takes you from classic side-board sailing yachts to ocean cruisers. From custom-built motor yachts to work horses. From tenders to trawler yachts. From square rigged passenger ships to J-class replicas to modern daysailers.

“Large or small vessels, at heart, we are ship builders,” says Jorgen Brand, co-owner of Gaastmeer Design BV with founder Hans Ritzema. Explains the latter’s son, Roel, “Interior styling is not our expertise. For us, function trumps esthetics. We are a maritime engineering firm, but we do strive, of course, for appealing underwater lines and above-water design.”

Gaastmeer’s activities include general construction, consultancy, hull strength and stability calculations,  detail engineering for boats to be built in wood, steel, aluminum or composite. It deals with yards whose clients want exceptional, often classic vessels. And with charter companies looking for sail plans, rigging and interiors for clippers and modern sailing ships.

Frysks boatsje
Frysks boatsje

Gaastmeer gave the 49.5m classic sailing yacht Eleonora, built in 2000, its striking interior. It worked on the Frysks  Boatsje, a small, classic side-board sailing craft. “That Frysks Boatsje derives from wooden fishing boats of yore,” says senior engineer Aldert van der Meer. “It was a customer request and the plan was to perhaps turn it into a steel-hulled sailing class. We designed a boat that was easy to assemble for both hobbyists and yards. We made a kit and sold 20 or so of them.”

Gaastmeer Design is located in Friesland, the northern Dutch province of emerald farmlands under big skies, cross-crossed by lakes and canals. It is a region where classic boats’ unplugged lifestyle thrives. And that is reflected in Gaastmeer’s work on replicas of classics that in the 19th century hauled fish, produce and people.

They have curious, old names. Working from old photos and drawings, Gaastmeer has drawn 6 new-built “tjalks,” the 12m “skutsje” Eabelina (launched 2009), the 28m cutter Eems (2004) and the Korneliske Ykes II, an eel fisher (2004) whose forebear landed fish as far away as London. (main photo by Klaas Smit)

“We ‘translated’ those drawings to the safety standards of today,” says Van der Meer. “We installed the engine in a section of the fish tank.”

In the tender category, Gaastmeer updated the Antaris brand giving its Sixty6 hull grooves that create a sheer line and an underwater hull making the craft stable at low and high speeds. Van der Meer: “the Antaris Sixty6 was a hit. The detailing was very precise work. The commissioning yard knew the client’s wishes, so the job required intensive interaction between the yard and us.”.

In the commercial sector, Gaastmeeer engineered a hydrogen-powered Amsterdam tour boat and a twin diesel bulk cargo vessel with an electric crane that regenerates electricity in loading and unloading operations.

12.5m trawler in build

Heijsman Shipyard is working on a Gaastmeer-drawn, 12.5m custom-built trawler yacht. Brand: “It is a voluminous, hard chine, steel vessel whose owner wants to make long sea voyages. So we gave it ample fuel capacity. Its 125HPO John Deere is a relatively lightweight engine but it has a 76cm prop which is the optimum screw efficiency. For stability’s sake, the superstructure is made of aluminum.”

The trawler yacht has no active stabilizers. “It has underwater torpedo-like paravanes that have a roll-dampening effect,” says Ritzema. There are also no gangways (better stability, more inside room), anchor gear with a draining dirt pan (no mess on deck), indoor steering, or outdoors by remote control.