Went to the Den Helder Dutch Wooden boat Festival -the first edition- and was overwhelmed by woodenboat goodness .
I saw a wooden boat workshop available for all, found books I really wanted for a long time, talked to people sailing the same craft I like, building the same craft I like in the way I like. Was invited to big boats I admire, talked to the builder/owners and saw a boat I was even too starstruck to get near to (the Boeier “Uiltje” built by Harmen Timmerman, the boat that made the front cover of Water Craft n°135) . Well, Harmen was sorting his breakfast so I thought it would be good manners to not interfear.
The wooden boat community really was there, people I know, had seen before, have a third connection with (building a Francois Vivier boat, a Cat-boat, a sail-maker we met two years ago in Britany), Den Helder was for a moment the center of Europe wooden boat building.
The encounter with eighty year old Kees owner of a Botter inviting us for a chat shelterd from the rain inside his cubby was a highlight. He restored 40 years ago an abandoned hull to perfection and sails the ship for pleasure now, having done with racing her.
Yes ok, sailing for him goes in a different scale: I asked him how he removed the mast; He frowned and said “we take it out every now and then when needed, it’s only 600 Kg”.
Right, that’s where my mind pops as a dingy sailor, Kees was my superman of the day.
Even more dwarfing was the visit aboard the “Palingaak” Korneliske Ykes II by the captain himself, telling us about the building of the replica and her latest sail to London. The latter seemed to be the old scoolmate of my sailing mate Frans who joined me at the boatshow.
The long trip to Den Helder was more than worth while. I hope the makers of the festival evaluate this first edition positive and there will be a next edition. I’ll be there again.