Kicking Around Dutch Waterfronts

The work of putting together the Calendar of Wooden Boats is not all work. To find wider-ranging examples of beautiful boats to feature, the team has left no stone unturned; in other words, they’ve done a lot of travelling. In the late summer of 1990, Anne and Maynard Bray accompanied photographer Ben Mendlowitz (who publishes the calendar) on a tour through Europe to capture scenes and stories.

One leg of the trip found them in the Netherlands, where they discovered numerous examples of traditional Dutch sailboats. These are a captivating sight, with their varnished oak hulls, whimsically curved stems, and teardrop-shaped leeboards which when pivoted out of the water resemble shields on the rail of a Viking longship. The CWB team were all impressed by the meticulous care given to these boats by their owners.

During the Holland jaunt, the trio got a spontaneous invitation to join local boat-owning friends on a weekend cruise on the canals. Maynard recalls that the scene unfolded quickly due to the schedule of a bridge being raised for the last time that day so that they were rushed aboard their hosts’ boats. He and Anne had brought along an oversized, metal-frame backpack for their belongings which barely fit below deck. The situation was explained to the Brays as they passed under the bridge: they and Ben were heading to a traditional boat rendezvous next day and would be spending a couple of nights onboard. This turned out to be an unforgettable experience!

Also noteworthy: the three visited a yard where shipwright Willem Vos and his crew were building a replica of the massive (and ill-fated) Dutch East India Company ship, Batavia, which sank during her maiden voyage in 1629.  Vos had found funding for the construction in 1985; it was devised as an employment project for young people. At the time Maynard took these photos, the builders were five years into the ten-year project. When finished, the replica matched the original in particulars and stunning detail, including many finely-carved figures adorning the hull. She was massive: 186’ long, 34’ of beam, and a displacement 1200 tons.

Image Captions provided by Maynard Bray