Historical sailing ships

Klipper or Stevenaak

With us you can sail on the Noordvaarder, a so-called Klipper or on the Victoria S which is called a Stevenaak. What is the difference now?

Sail on Stevenaak de Victoria S on the Waddenzee and the IJsselmeer with your (sports) friends, family or colleagues. The ship is equipped for 24 guests for multi-day trips and 30 guests for a day trip sailing. The ship is very suitable for a weekend of friends, family weekend, reunion, company outing, staff outing, team training or just to get a breath of fresh air on the Waddenzee or IJsselmeer. A sailing adventure with the school class is very suitable for team spirit and individual development!

We have owned the Noordvaarder since 2001 and since October 2017 we, Michael & Elske, are the owners of the Victoria S and have sailed with her and our guests across the Wadden Sea and the IJsselmeer. It was completely refurbished in the winter of 2017-2018. We have also carried out a historical investigation into the Victoria S and there appears to be quite a bit known about the ship, with some contradictions regarding her age. We assume that in 1882 with a length of 23.56 m under the name Therefore! the water ran up from the Jonker shipyard in Kinderdijk (a somewhat unusual name, but a few years earlier her sister ship, the stern barge Why was built on the same shipyard. This ship also sails as a charter ship under the name La Bohème). In 1898, the Victoria S was extended to the current length of 28.38 m at the shipyard “De Hoop der Drie Gebroeders” by the Paans brothers in Roodevaart (near Moerdijk). The ship then sailed under the name Grevelingen and Vios II. In the 90s of the last century, the ship was converted into a charter ship and was given the name Victoria S.

Some of our guests will not care, as long as it is fast and cozy. However, we can imagine that there are also guests who want to know more about the specific differences and the history. Both types of ships fall into the flat-bottomed category, a typical Dutch design: because of its shallow draft, it is able to navigate very shallow inland waterways, where ships with a keel can never come. On tidal water, the ship can easily dry up without dangerous tilting because of its flat bottom. The side swords take over the function of keel to prevent the ship from gluing too much (not sailing straight ahead while sailing, but going more sideways). Flat bottoms were built for freight and fishing but also for pleasure boating. Each application led to specific design. For fishing, the ship had to be seaworthy, depending on where it went fishing, well built for casting out and retrieving nets and whether or not to sail quickly: fishing grounds nearby or further into the sea. For cargo shipping it was often important to be able to carry as much cargo as possible, depending on the waterways and the size of the locks.

The sailing clipper De Noordvaarder and the Stevenaak Victoria S are historic (also called classic) sailing ships that were built in the past to transport cargo on the Dutch (but also German, Belgian and French) rivers, canals and lakes. Originally these cargo ships were built in wood, but since the thirties of the 19th century the ships were built of iron. You can see the development of the iron production industry in the age of the ships. Initially, the so-called puddle iron had a relatively high carbon content, making the material more brittle but more resistant to rust than the steel (iron), the ships of which were built after about 1905. This steel iron is tougher and more flexible, which also allowed the ships to have more curvature.

Our Stevenaak Victoria S is an example of an iron ship (building in the period 1876 – 1882) and De Noordvaarder from 1909, built from the new steel at that time. The ships have only a shallow draft (80 – 130 cm) and can therefore sail in many shallow places. In order to limit the lateral drift, the ships are equipped with side swords, which may or may not be carried in or above the water, depending on the course and the wind direction. These side swords replace the centreboard or keel that you see on other ships. The ships are designed to sail, but under the influence of the industrial revolution, engines were built in or on the ship. The engines made the ships less dependent on the wind direction and the current on the rivers and the mudflats.

Many of the cargo ships literally went ashore after the Second World War and the final verdict was passed in the late 1960s with the so-called scrapping scheme. Inland shipping was cleaned up and larger inland vessels were built that were able to transport cargo more efficiently, such as the pushed convoys and container ships on the Rhine.

Many of the old cargo ships were cut to scrap, but others were converted into storage or houseboats. In the big cities you encountered many of these houseboats because of the housing shortage at that time. But ships that had been converted into instruction or passenger transport also continued to sail. At the end of the sixties, ships such as the tjalk de Pallieter, the clipper de Lichtstraal (training ship for sea explorers), the tjalk De Horizon (from sailing school De Kaag) and the wooden galjas Cecilie carried guests over the IJsselmeer and Wad. In the early 1970s, the market for sailing trips on these historic ships really got going. The old hulls were sometimes literally surfaced and made suitable for transporting guests. Charter pioneers who invested time, a lot of energy and money included Frans Eissenloeffel (including with the Pallieter and the Kraak), Evert Verkerk, Jan Bakker, Herman Brandsma, (Rooie) Gerrit Portengen.

Examples of this development include the clipper barge Zwarte Valk (brought into service in 1971), followed by the tjalk de Liberte 1972/1973, the tjalk de Mercurius by Herman Brandsma (later owner of the Noordvaarder), the clipper Nooit Volmaeckt, the clipper de Risico, clipper Kaat Mossel and the Abt van Starum. In 1970 the last ship still sailed as a one-mast sailing clipper with a side screw (lame arm) from Staveren with freight. From 1971 the parents of skipper Elske sailed for a number of years as a mate and kitchen girl on the Black Falcon of Evert and Gonnie Verkerk. See the accompanying photo during a flat-bottomed reunion on Queen’s Day 1972 in Marken (parents of Elske on the left and Gonnie Verkerk on the right of the ship). The Black Falcon still had a nice long tiller, the engine was a different story. When the ship returned to service in 1971, the engine room contained a 1 cylinder Lister auxiliary engine and a large main engine, a 4 cylinder Lister. If the main engine had to be started, you first had to dive into the engine room, crank up the auxiliary engine by hand and – if it made sufficient revolutions – start the main engine via a leather drive belt. Quite a “cool” action if you were sailing in front of the harbor. Nowadays that is a bit easier, with the push of a button the stuff turns and the skipper can keep his attention while sailing.

In the mid-seventies, the charter trade boomed and several skippers looked for plenty of water and sailed to the Baltic Sea or to the Mediterranean Sea. After first making a few trips with the Zwarte Valk to the Baltic Sea, Evert Verkerk sold the Zwarte Valk and renovated a Katwijk herring logger (ex SCH 316, ex KW 59) into a charter ship: De Zonnevis. When Elske was 3 months old, her parents and her, Evert, Gonnie, took their daughter Marit and a group of guests from the Baltic Sea back to Enkhuizen at the end of August 1977. With a strong Northeast wind it went quite well above Terschelling, so much so that many guests turned green and yellow in front of the eyes. Elske was not bothered by anything and slept peacefully in her basket on the large control box: in the photos: Elske in her basket and the John Dory.

At the moment there are more than 500 ships of the so-called “Brown Fleet” ships in service. The name Brown Fleet comes from the mostly brown-tinged cotton sails that the sailing ships used to be equipped with. Nowadays they are almost all made of plastic (dacron, etc.) and are available in brown and white.

As the number of “brown ships” grew, they also began to organize with the aim of preserving and restoring the fleet remains, recognition as sailing monuments, which, like the pollard willows, windmills and folding bridges, belong to the Dutch landscape (according to Theo Leeuwenburgh in Het Bruin Schuitenboek, 1978 PN van Kampen & Zn). In 1974, the Association for the Preservation of the Sailing Commercial Vessel was established, later changed into the National Association for the Conservation of the Historical Commercial Vessel (LVBHB), as a result of which a wider range of historical ships is represented, such as fishing vessels, tugboats, etc.

At that time, there were sometimes literal fights in the ports for recognition as a “company” and professional skipper. In the beginning, they tried to treat these ships as yachts (with associated mooring fees). Nowadays this is clearly different: the ports recognize the ships and skippers / owners as a professional branch and the berthing facilities have been adapted and expanded. After all, it has become an important tourism industry.

The type of ship

The ships in the charter fleet can be divided into a number of main types:

  • clippers
  • barges
  • tjalk

In addition, you will encounter ships from the fishing industry such as: botters, fireplaces, shockers, barges, etc.

The clippers and barges can often be divided into the shape of the front and back: clipper head, bar head, swept stern, peaked stern or horse butt (round stern). Sometimes the sterns are also named after the shipyard where they were built, such as a “Waspikse butt” from the shipyard Ruytenberg in Waspik. In principle, barges stand for ships without a bow. So typical for this is the stern barge: a barge but then with stern.

Register Ship Measurement Service 1899 – 1989 (Source Maritime Museum Rotterdam)

Article 22 with regard to the ship’s patent of the revised Convention for the Navigation of the Rhine of 17 October 1868 is the origin for measuring the loading capacity of ships. The patent was originally instituted in order to be able to tax this. In 1899, the regulation was amended, whereby the measurement no longer took place on the basis of loaded ballast, but on the basis of displacement of water. From that time, ships are measured to determine the displacement.

The register of ship measurements starts from 1899 and is called “Beams” in ship’s jargon. 24 registration offices are being set up throughout the Netherlands to be able to perform these measurements. In 1979 there are only three Amsterdam, Groningen and Rotterdam and ten years later everything is centralized to Rotterdam. In the same year (1989), an automated system was switched over and manual registration of the vessel’s measurement in the books of the register was a thing of the past. In 2008, the books were transferred to the Maritime Museum Rotterdam in collaboration with the National Archives, as part of the Ministry of Transport, Public Works and Water Management. The books are preserved by the museum and made accessible via this website.

The ship’s survey service register contains two types of books;
– beams;
– branding.

Beams are the registrations of the certificates of ships by the Shipping Measurement Service. A ship is mainly measured to determine the carrying capacity of the ship. The owner receives a certificate of measurement regarding the measurement made. The measurement is registered in the beam book of the place of registration and is given a beam number. The beam number is made up of the abbreviated place name of the registration office of the Shipping Metering Service and a serial number (for example Zs362, R12345, Am12345 or D1234, supplemented with the N of the Netherlands).

To officially register ships with Kadaster, a brand number is affixed to the ship and entered in the Kadaster Register of Ships. The brand number was burned on a wooden ship and chiselled on iron / steel ships. This can be done on the wheelhouse or on the den or board of the cargo hold. The registration number identifies the ship internationally and the ownership is also established. With a mortgage on the ship and with a valid measurement certificate, a brand is mandatory. From 1929, a beam therefore always refers to a brand. The number of the brand is structured as follows: serial number, type of ship, place of registration with the Land Registry and year of registration (for example 31 B TIEL 1927, 274 B Leid 1927, 262 Z ARNH 1952 or 596 V HAARL 1948). The following types of ship are distinguished: B for Inland Shipping, Z for Sea Shipping and V for Fisheries. The place of registration are the cadastre offices. The composition of these places is not the same as that of the Beams as they are other offices. This concerns 35 places in the Netherlands as opposed to 24 for the Beams.

In addition to the marking on a ship with a brand mark, a ship may be marked with one or more beam numbers.

The history of our ships can be traced using these archives.

The sailing clipper De Noorvaarder

The Noordvaarder was built as a sailing clipper in 1909 at the shipyard of the Gebroeders De Boer in Lemmer as the ship’s 79th ship under the name Martha. Thanks to the digitization of archives, a lot of original data is known: we were able to find out the original building specifications and construction costs ourselves. The construction order was given on February 12, 1908, it was launched on June 29, 1908, launched on October 28, 1908 and delivered on January 26, 2009 to G. Zijlstra in Kampen. The total costs then amounted to NLG 5,544.35. It appears from the construction specifications that the owner exchanged his iron tjalk ship Martha for this and paid NLG 3,200.00 extra, the ship later yielded NLG 3,500.00, so the yard made a profit of NLG 1,155.65. construction, not bad when you consider that the hourly wages were between 8 and 15 cents!

The original length of the ship was 25.46 meters with a displacement of 126.8 tons and was extended in 1930 to 30.56 meters and a displacement of 155.896 tons. In the meantime, a so-called crude oil engine had been installed in 1923 and around that time the ship passed to the son of the owner. In 1932 the ship was sold to Mr. Woning in Groningen and was given the name Jan, in 1945 the ship was converted into a motor freighter. Subsequently, the next mutation only took place in 1973, when the ship was given the name For Life. In 1986 Herman Brandsma bought the ship and converted it into the current sailing clipper. Michael then bought Herman’s ship in 2003.

The Stevenaak Victoria S

The word Stevenaak is actually a contradiction, the two parts of the word contradict each other. A stern barge refers to a timber vessel with a butt of a Dorsten barge and with a head that is built on the stern with the stern. This type of ship was a model to rebuild in iron for private drivers who wanted to continue sailing. To make such an iron ship look like its wooden predecessor – for the sake of beauty – it was given a hollow box bow. In the same way that the iron tjalk got its bow.

A historical survey of the Victoria S shows that quite a lot is known about the ship, with some contradictions regarding her age. The document opposite shows a year of construction of 1876 with a length of 23.56 m under the name Therefore! was launched from the Jonker shipyard in Kinderdijk (a somewhat strange name, but in 1876 her sister ship, the stern barge Why was built on the same shipyard. This ship also sails as a charter ship under the name La Bohème). So the year of construction of 1876 seems to be correct and perhaps the ship was only sold to the N. van Daal from Waspik in 1882 and entered service. This means that the ship was initially built in-house by the yard. That could also explain the separate naming of the ships: a joke from the shipyard.

Jonker’s yard in Kinderdijk

In 1898 the Victoria S was extended to the current length of 28.38 m at the shipyard “De Hoop der three Gebroeders” by the Paans brothers in Roodevaart (near Moerdijk).

The De Hoop der three Gebroeders shipyard in Roodevaart

The ship then sailed under the name Grevelingen – 1914- (with owner M. Fonteine ​​of N.V. Koleninpormij “Gevelingen” in Rotterdam), later it was called

ship Vios II. At the end of the 1990s, the ship was converted into a charter ship and was given the name Victoria S. As Grevelingen, the ship made several newspapers due to collisions: The newspaper Het Centrum dated 11 February 1921 reports a collision of the Grevelingen on the Maas and the Nieuwsblad van het Noorden of February 7, 1923 reports a collision of the Grevelingen at Brouwershaven. Nowadays sailing with these ships is considerably safer, they have a good engine and the skippers and sizes are well trained. In the past the skippers depended on the wind and the current and then only with a sail and no more than 2 men (or women) on board was maneuvering a ship loaded to the side deck was no easy task. At some point, the Grevelingen was equipped with a side screw installation. The propulsion engine was on or under deck and powered a propeller shaft that was hanging next to the ship. The propeller shaft could be lifted if one only wanted to sail on sail (less resistance) or when mooring.

The VIOS II has been located in the Amsterdam wood harbor for years with its owner Mr. Bakker.






The VIOS II spotted near Schellingwoude around 1978












The side screw (also referred to as a lame floor) on the Vios II

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