Gefeliciteerd, Bert! (Goodonya, Mate – in Dutch)

Our good friend and teacher Bert van Baar led an enthusiastic team of Dutch boat builders, guests of the Wooden Boat Centre in Franklin, Tasmania for the 2017 MyState Bank Australian Wooden Boat Festival.  They created a beautiful Dutch-design sailboat that was later auctioned to a very happy new owner on the festival site. Sponsors Hydrowood and Damen Shipbuilding came to the party and the town of Franklin extended wonderful hospitality to Bert and his young crew.  Bert was pretty taken with Tasmania and went home full of enthusiasm for wooden boat festivals and lost no time in planning something entirely new:

Bert van Baar (right) at the MyState Bank Australian Wooden Boat Festival 2017, Hobart, Tasmania, Australia. Photo (c) Ballantyne Photography

My Own Dutch Wooden Boat Festival

In Hobart I was introduced to the Australian Wooden Boat Festival 2017 by team-building a Dutch wooden boat at the Wooden Boat Centre in Franklin. I was flabbergasted by the whole entourage of Tasmania and her boats!!

Back home in Holland I was looking for a reason to organise one myself.

How about this one: the boatbuilding classes at my college in the Netherlands started 25 years ago and the college itself started 90 years ago.  In Den Helder I got a free space for participants in AND out of the water!

(Den Helder is in the province of North Holland, about 85km north of Amsterdam, surrounded by water on three sides. The city has an historic naval base and an interesting Naval Museum.- ed.)

Lots of help from the authorities and a free website, built by a group of students that used it for their own exams in IT.

Free advertisements and lots of help from Maritime magazines and a ‘hunger’ from the wooden boat owners who loved to finally have a first Dutch WoodenBoat Festival of their own. We had about 100 wooden boats coming in, about 50 in the water, ranging from a 100’ minesweeper to a 18’ VOC working boat that also took part in the AWBF some ten years ago. A total of 1000 metres of wooden boat was present!


Indoors and outside on the quays, old and new exam students from the Amsterdam college had their pre-exhibition: the next week the new students had to present their boat at the final exhibition at the College. A lot of private boats came along: pilot-cutter Ezra was my favorite. But many Dutch traditional boats too: 15 botters that got out to sea for a race on Friday, an old eel-barge replica, clinker yachts, too many to mention.

Summer days and wooden boats – the Dutch Wooden Boat Festival

And an annual ABBA (Amateur BoatBuilding Award) was held with 13 competitors!

We had presentations about a range of wooden boat subjects: from new boatbuilding woods like Accoya, to the history of working boats, future of the wooden boat building to new experimental windfinder self propelled boats.

Next year from July 3-5, 2020 you are most welcome to attend our second Dutch Wooden Boat Festival!

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