Determining the type of vessel


In the past the majority of wooden boats were built at yards without using any drawings, with the dimensions being determined by the boat builder on the basis of the skipper’s requirements. The boat builder wrote down the most important dimensions on a piece of paper or on the back of a cigar box and then built ‘by eye’ (image 1). An existing vessel was often used as an example, with the skipper’s special requirements being written down. A flat bottom of so many feet was always discussed because that was the starting point for the build. The standard jigs were then adapted which, in conjunction with the boat builder’s experience, once again met the client’s wishes.

Materials and tools

Examples of other vessels, as a guide for determining the characteristics and dimensions of a vessel to be built. Tools: folding rule, pencil, paper.


In the age of wooden vessels, in Zeeland it was mainly Hoogaarzen, Hengsten, Lemmerhengsten, Lemmerhoogaarzen, Zeeuwse schouwen and Boeieraken that were built. Following examples of vessels from the more northerly regions, Botters and Lemsteraken were also built. These were flat-bottomed vessels, built for fishing and for light cargo. Apart from the carvel-built Lemmerhengst and the Boeieraak, the majority of types of vessels were clinker-built. The Hengst is a mixed type.

In the age of iron and steel vessels, in Zeeland it was mainly Rhine waterway, passenger and steam freighter vessels that were built, as well as naval ships. Like others, this was the case for the De Schelde yard in Vlissingen and the TSM yards in Terneuzen and Hansweert. A well-known type was the Zeeland clipper.

Before 1930 the wooden fishing boats were built as sailing boats. Around 1930 more and more wooden fishing boats became motorised. The wooden boats turned out not to be so good at withstanding the vibrations from the engines and often started to leak. The reason for this was that these sailing boats were adapted to carry what were often heavy engines and because the majority were already old their maintenance also became more and more expensive. The new-build wooden boats that were fitted with engines at the same time lasted much longer.

During WWII the Zeeland fishing fleets were sunk by retreating allied troops, commandeered by German troops and once again sunk by retreating German troops. Many vessels hit mines or were fired on when fishing. As a result of this very little of the old fleet survived. Around 1940 more and more shipyards switched over from building wooden vessels to building steel vessels. As time went on the wooden Zeeland fishing boats were increasingly replaced by steel fishing cutters.

The skipper determined the type of vessel that he wanted to have built. The choice of vessel of course depended on the function of the new vessel and its sailing area. For longer distances the choice was more often for a fast boat and for shorter distances the choice was for a vessel that could carry a large amount of cargo.

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Materials Required

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