WAALWIJK – Yoeri Bijker, head of sales and marketing at Van der Valk Shipyard, just got back from the Moscow Boat Show. “How was it?” he was asked on a day when the coronavirus was almost done with China and packing for its calamitous world tour.
“Not a terribly busy show, but serious candidates. And that’s what it’s all about,” replied Bijker. He will not ignore the Moscow show. He has long-standing relationships there with potential clients interested in his increasingly sophisticated portfolio.
In recent years, Van der Valk Shipyard has almost exclusively built aluminum motor yachts to 40m (131ft.), all attractive (semi) custom craft. “We can work in all materials, but it’s often more interesting – for planning and technical reasons – to outsource a steel hull,” says Bijker.
“Our welders know aluminum. And, given the risk of galvanic corrosion, it is better to build steel and aluminum separately. If someone absolutely wants steel, he will get it, but aluminum has such advantages. It’s corrosion-resistant and much lighter than steel.”
Van der Valk builds hulls in-house, from aluminum slabs. “The cutting technology has become so sophisticated,” says Bijker. “Much attention is paid to nesting to extract as much aluminum as possible from a sheet. Today, QR codes are put on hull sections that are then scanned by welders to spot their exact locations. For instance, a red-marked part sits below the waterline, blue above it and green is for the superstructure.”
For 40 years, Van der Valk has worked Volvo Penta engines, but over the last 10 years “we have increasingly come into a segment requiring engines of more than 1,000HP from a single engine block. Volvo Penta does not make diesel engines that have more than 6 cylinders and exceed that output. So, we work closely with brands like MAN, Caterpillar, MTU and, sometimes, John Deere.”
Van der Valk has a payroll of 40 people and works with 25 subcontractors. Bijker: “Additionally, there is a flexible group of workers on standby. They can usually make themselves available within 2 weeks.”
Wim van der Valk, 74, founded his shipyard 52 years ago. He still shows up daily and until 2012, he designed almost all of the yard’s boats. Here are some boats Van der Valk Shipyard is working on right now:
19m (62ft.) BEACH CLUB
The Cor D. Rover-designed 19m Beach Club-600 is a groundbreaking design with 2 Volvo Penta IPS engines located aft in the swimming platform. That setup yields much interior space and cuts a lot of noise. “We can’t have the largest IPS engines, because there are customers who want to sail even faster,” says Bijker. “That is why the 2 Beach Clubs-660 Flybridge, that we are now building, are 20.5m long. While that is only 1.5m longer, it is enough to extend the interior and the swimming platform so there’s space for 2 Volvo Penta D13-IPS1350 6-cylinder diesels of 1,000HP each.” The yard is working on the first Beach Club 600 with a 60-Hertz power net – standard in the US and requested by an American buyer. Soon, the boat will be transported to Cleveland from where it will go to Lake Michigan under its own power.
29m (95ft.) EXPLORER RAISED PILOTHOUSE
Designer Guido de Groot was asked to give this yacht a New York loft interior. Bijker: “Guido is different from other designers. For example, this ship has whitewashed oak ceiling beams, concrete-look saloon walls and bronze-tinted shower walls instead of tiles. And a food lift from the galley to the flybridge!”
16m WATERDREAM California-52
For Waterdream, the Dutch brand of high-end, large-cabin tender yachts, Van der Valk is building a California-52, an aluminum daycruiser of +15m. Waterdream put the job out to tender and Van der Valk won the contract. Soon the Waterdream logo goes on the boat. “They were looking for a good shipyard and had all sorts of conditions,” says Bijker. “It is a nice project. Waterdream wants to use it to compete with the Wajer and the VanDutch brands. The cabin has 4 berths, a bathroom and a kitchen. The idea is to have a luxury day cruiser for Mallorca.”
25.5m (84ft.) FLYBRIDGE
This 25.5m long and a 6m wide flybridge motor yacht – a Cor D. Rover design – has a master cabin, 3 or 4 bedrooms, 4 bathrooms, + crew accommodation. It features large areas of glass that, on the main deck, run from floor to ceiling. Bijker stresses this modern-looking ship does not replace Van der Valk’s existing flybridge, a more traditional model which has many fans in Bijker’s Rolodex.
27.5m (90ft.) LeVen
Like that California 52 for Waterdream, this a custom-built yacht for another company that fell into Van der Valk’s lap by way of the Vripack design studio. “As construction progressed, it became clear to the client it’s tough to bring a new brand to a market that is already saturated. It is now a joint label, with LeVen hitching a ride on our heritage of 52 years. Our logo is now on it and that inspires confidence. Delivered in September 2019, it is a unique ship for the Bahamas. A 2nd LeVen is in the works.
26m (85ft.) VAN DER VALK PILOT.
Cor D. Rover designed the Van der Valk Pilot. Bijker calls it an ‘SUV boat.’ “This 26m, aluminum vessel is a mix between an Explorer and a yacht. Tenders and toys are aft where they are easily put into the water. The Pilot has a robust look, but still the comfort of a yacht. The naval architecture is by Diana Yacht Design.”