22 August 2012

Some Painted Tiles

As we chomped at the bit to head back over to the Netherlands to take possession of our skûtsje, Nieuwe Zorg, Edi dug-out some old tiles that had been in her family for more than half a century. These hand-painted tiles had come from the renovation of a house on Amsterdam's Keizersgracht. The houses there date from the seventeenth century and were once home to the city's wealthiest families, and some still are.

The tiles measure 152 X 152 millimetres and are about 9.5 millimetres thick with grooves for mortar on their backs. Each depicts a separate traditional scene. One is a scene of grazing cattle alongside a canal flanked by windmills. On the canal are two small boats.

Another of the tiles has several windmills and some people alongside a shoreline. Near the shore is a gaff-rigged barge, possibly a skûtsje under sail.

The third tile depicts three small tjalken, likely skûtsjes alongside the embankment of a small meer in front of some houses. In the background is another sailing vessel and a windmill.

The fourth tile shows a tjalk with a smaller sailing vessel alongside and a couple of punts nearby. On the shore are two windmills and in the background out into the meer are several large and small sailing craft.

The fifth tile is of a seaside scene of a fisherman and his wife lugging baskets of fish ashore from their tjalk, which is dried-out with the low tide. In the middle ground is a second dried-out tjalk with several people around it. In the background are other sailing vessels.

I spent a lot of time online looking for similar tiles, first searching through over a thousand Google images, then browsing over seven hundred eBay listings. I saw none similar, and only a tiny handful as finely done. 
We have decided to have these tiles appropriately framed to hang in the salon of our skûtsje.

20 August 2012

Added a New Website

We have added a new website: Skûtsje ZonderZorg

Zonder zorg in Dutch means without worry. Our intention with the site is to provide a place to share some of the history, geography and culture of the skûtsje as we discover it. We will also use this place to document the refit and restoration of our barge and to follow our carefree wanderings and explorations of the European inland waterways.

There are already a few pages with considerable detail; take a look: Skûtsje ZonderZorg

11 August 2012

Still More Skûtsje History

We continued to attempt to track-down Douwe Albert Visser, who was the owner of Nieuwe Zorg in 1941 when she was re-registered. One of the problems we repeatedly encountered in our online searches was the effect of currently having Albert Visser and two Douwe Vissers as very competitive skûtsje racers, each as skipper of one of the fourteen competing skûtsjes in the annual SKS championship series. Yesterday, Douwe Visser Jzn. skippered his crew in the Sneek skûtsje, Pan to another win, decisively capturing this year's fourteen-day, eleven-race series. This was his seventh championship since taking-over as skipper in 1989. Complicating our search further is that a Douwe Visser Azn. is also an SKS skipper, and he won the series championship twice, 2005 and 2009 with the skûtsje, Doarp Grou. He came second in this year's competition. Further confusing our search engines is that Albert Visser Jzn. is the skipper of the SKS Drachten skûtsje, Twee Gebroeders, a serious contender. With all the notable skûtsje involvement of these modern Douwe and Albert Vissers, Google couldn't get us back beyond very recent history.

I did find a Twitter account for one of the Vissers and sent a tweet. On a website profile for another of the Vissers, I used the comments box to post a question about a possible family connection with our skûtsje's 1941 owner.

During my research, I found a wonderful drawing in a museum archive. It depicts a classic working skûtsje with its small roef (deckhouse) aft for the skipper and his family, and also clearly shows the cargo hold with some of its luiken (covering) removed. The classified racing skûtsjes must retain these original features, while the conversions to pleasure generally had the roef removed to fit an engine and to make a cockpit. The hold was then covered over with a more elevated jachtenroef, like on our Nieuwe Zorg.

In the archive I also found a photo of a well-maintained skûtsje in a classic working configuration, though with a roef higher and slightly longer than usual. The curve of the roofline repeats the sheer of the gangboord and berghout (gunwale and rubbing strake), and this we have seen repeated on the most pleasing looking of the lengthened jachtenroef conversions, like on our Nieuwe Zorg.

On another site I found the proportions of the optimal sailing skûtsje. The mast is 105% of the length of the barge, the foot of the mainsail is 50% of the barge length, the gaff is 100% of the beam of the barge and the rudder length is 50% of the barge's beam, and with its skeg, it extends 30 centimetres below the barge's bottom. These data will be useful as we move toward restoring Nieuwe Zorg to full sailing trim.

09 August 2012

Some More Skûtsje History

While I was researching the history of Nieuwe Zorg, I finally found her first registration details obscured by an apparent typographical error in a transcribed online spreadsheet. She was listed as having been built in 1901 instead of 1908. I emailed the webmaster of the site and pointed out the apparent error to him, and asked for confirmation that it actually is an error.

A few days later I received a reply from Frits Jansen, the webmaster of the site confirming that the date had been mis-typed when compiling the spreadsheet from the original ledger. He told me that it would soon be corrected on the website. Frits attached a photo of a spread of pages of the Sneek registration ledger showing De Nieuwe Zorg as the last entry.

I blew-up the high-resolution photo to show the details clearly: 831 | De Nieuwe Zorg | A. Vaandriks / Koudum | Roefschip / yaer | Gaastmeer / 1908.

On the facing page, the registration continues with her measurements all written-out in words. Her first measurement on 20 March 1909 gave her length as 16.33 metres and her beam as 3.43 metres. A later measurement is referenced with new registration number, G6496N. Under Notations, the final column, is an undated entry indicating the registration was cancelled.

The second registration number, G6496 matches that found in the details page for S831N. De Nieuwe Zorg's owner shown at the time of the second measurement on 25 June 1941 was Douwe Albert Visser of Stavoren. We have attempted to locate some mention of Douwe Albert Visser online, so far without success.

Among the things we have found so far is a photograph of the Wildschut boatyard in Gaastmeer, thought to have been taken in 1907, around the time when our skûtsje was being built. The three Wildschut brothers, Age, Jelle and Jetze are at the far left.

Also, we have found an undated photo captioned Age Vaandriks at work aboard his skûtsje. Age had De Nieue Zorg built by Wildschut in 1908, and later, in 1925 had a second skûtsje, Dankbaarheid built by Wolthuis in Sappemeer. Whether this is our Nieuwe Zorg or his later skûtsje, Dankbaarheid we don't yet know. In the photo Age appears to be sitting and enjoying a pipe.

One very interesting online discovery we made was an interactive page with a detailed drawing of a skûtsje with part names in both Dutch and Fryske. The link to the interactive page is here. This will be very useful to us as we head into restoring Nieuwe Zorg to full sailing trim.

08 August 2012

Some Skûtsje History

On the evening of 28 July Edi and I arrived back in Vancouver from a two-week trip to the Netherlands. During our time there we had searched for and found a skûtsje tjalk, we had made an offer, had it accepted, did a sea trial and had hull, systems and rigging surveys done. We had applied for and received insurance coverage, we had arranged moorage and we had located a yard to restore and refit our skûtsje over the winter.

There are a few items arising from the surveys that the owners must address before the closing date, which we had set as 01 September to allow sufficient time for the comfortable completion of any arisings. Also, before the closing date we need to transfer the balance of the purchase price to the broker's trust account. With the details taken care of, I began researching skûtsje history in general and that of Nieuwe Zorg in particular.

On the brokerage offering she is described as having been built in 1908 by the Wildschut yard in Gaastmeer. From our contract to purchase, I found that the sellers, Henk and Martha had bought her in 1975 and Henk later told us that her name had always been Nieuwe Zorg. I searched online and found a listing of skûtsje registrations. I sorted the list alphabetically by ship names and scrolled through the Nieuwe Zorgs. There are 40 of them plus one Nieuwe Zorgen listed as having been registered between 1895 to 1923, none of them built by Wildschut, nor even in Gaastmeer.

I next sorted the list by registration date and scrolled to 1908. Of the sixty-eight skûtsje built in Friesland in 1908, four of them were named Nieuwe Zorg, but none of these are listed as having built in Gaastmeer, nor by Wildschut. The two 1908 registrations that were built by Wildschut in Gaastmeer, Hoop op Zegen and Zeldenrust, had measurements didn't match those of our Nieuwe Zorg.

I then sorted the list by building yard and scrolled to the Gaastmeer section. There I found a listing for De Nieuwe Zorg built in 1901. Things weren't making sense until I noticed that the date sequence was awry; the 1901 listing was sorted with the 1907s, which is where its Registry Number, S831N placed it.

I resorted the list by Registry Number, and De Nieuwe Zorg's S831N fell in among the 1908 listings.

I opened the details of the S831N line and found her second measurement from 1941. These are the exact measurements listed for our Nieuwe Zorg in the brokerage listing: length 16.38 metres and beam 3.44 metres. She was calculated in 1941 at 31.971 tons.

The listings also showed the first owner was Age Vaandriks of Koudum. I searched the registry and found that Age had commissioned a second ship from a different yard in 1925, a 19.15 X 3.9 metre skûtsje named Dankbaarheid. To its details page had been added a photo of Age, and with further digging I found that he was born in 1876, so would have been 32 when he had De Nieuwe Zorg built.

The Friesian skûtsje was developed between 1855 and 1860 and they were initially built of wood. Then in 1887 riveted iron was introduced, and during the first decade of the twentieth century, the yards gradually converted from iron to steel. Approximately 870 iron and steel skûtsjes were built until 1933. With the closing of the Zuiderzee in 1932, the commercial usefulness of the skûtsje dropped. During the ensuing years, many skûtsjes were converted to homes and some to pleasure or racing vessels. There are currently about 90 of these historic vessels restored to full sailing trim and competing in regular races in Friesland.

Between 1857 and 1953, four generations of the family Wildschut had a shipyard in Gaastmeer, a short distance from Sneek in southwestern Friesland. Beginning with ship repair and maintenance, they soon began building building wooden sailing tjalken, and as the demand for more nimble barges grew, they developed the predecessor of the skûtsje. At the end of the nineteenth century Wildschut began building in iron, and then from 1904 they appear to have specialized in iron and steel skûtsjes, building eighteen of them in the ten years leading up to The Great War. The yard also built tjotters, tjalken, klippers, palingaken, plus a variety of smaller inland water craft.

We are looking forward to doing some much more in-depth research on skûtsjes and on Wildschut. Meanwhile, we are yearning to return to the Netherlands to take possession of Nieuwe Zorg; she has already taken possession of us.

Meanwhile, we haven't forgotten about Sequitur siting on the hard in St Augustine. We have been monitoring the weather there since we left her in early July; after all, it is hurricane season. Since Tropical Storm Debbie passed directly over us on 27 June, there have been no named storms until Ernesto this week, and now there's Florence.

Ernesto grew and was upgraded to a Hurricane on Tuesday, then on Wednesday it was downgraded back to a Tropical Storm as it came ashore on the Yucatan. Meanwhile Florence seemed to peter-out, but behind it is an as yet unnamed system with medium potential to develop. Sequitur weathered one hurricane and three Force 11s in the Southern Ocean, so she is not concerned, and is likely straining at her lashings to get back out into the fray, while we are looking forward to a more gentle kind of boating.

This post is also on our Sequitur Blog at: SailBlogs