100 years Catharina van Mijdrecht
Finally, the Catharina van Mijdrecht gets to celebrate her centenary.
1916 timeline 2016
1916 ConstructionDedemsvaart is a busy place, on the border between the peat colonies of Overijssel en Drenthe. Peat is brought in and loaded into barges and tjalks, to be sailed across the Zuyderzee and across the main rivers. It is brought to the factories and bakeries in the west, and brickworks in the south.
The Catharina is being built at J. Mol's shipyard in Dedemsvaart. She will be one of the last sailing cargo ships. R. Snippe, the first skipper, names her “Linquenda”, meaning 'I shall have to leave her'. It is a promise that the ship will outlast the skipper. This occurs sooner than expected: Snippe goes bankrupt and has to sell his ship in 1919.
1919 sailing cargoShips are the main mode of freight transport in the Netherlands. For most skippers this is a free but hard life. They often work day and night, for in unfavourable weather there is no sailing and no income.
Lucas Otter from Giethoorn buys the ship in 1919, and changes the name into Catrina, after his wife. He sails out mostly with peat, and on the way back he carries whatever is on offer.
1932 First engineIn the narrow waters where sailing is impossible, ships have to be towed or punted. There's usually no money to rent a draught horse, so the whole family helps to tow the ship.
The Catrina gets her first engine, a 22 horsepower diesel that powers the so-called "lame arm", a side propeller on a long shaft. It also powers the winch, making loading and unloading easier. Sailing remains the main means of propulsion though. Otter's son Geert is the foresail mate at age twelve: "I've had plenty of spray on me head", he tells us when he visits the ship more than fifty years later.
1940 – 1945 War yearsSailing continues during World War II; it is the only way to get food on the table, even if it means shipping goods to Germany.
Geert Otten takes the helm more often, and in 1942 he officially becomes a partner. In 1944, the Catrina is severely damaged in a shooting. Repairs take more than 18 months, partly due to lack of materials. For long after that she sails with provisional rigging and the remains of the old mast.
1950 End of an eraAfter World War II, sailing ships quickly disappear from the Dutch waterways. New roads and bigger diesel engines get the freight to its destination more quickly.
Geert Otter takes over the Catrina completely in 1950, and has a 57 hp Deutz diesel engine installed under the deckhouse. He has to go down into the engine room every two hours to grease the gland and valves. Geert usually sails alone, except on trips to Paris or the Soviet occupation zone; then you have to have a crew of at least two, so his sister comes along for those.
1971 Scrap metalCargo ships are getting bigger and bigger. Engines are stronger, and new locks and bridges have greater capacity, so the human scale is no longer a factor. The former sailing ships are getting too small for cost effective freight transport, and most of them are scrapped.
Geert Otten buys a bigger ship too, and it looks like the Catrina is doomed for demolition. For years she lies in a channel, awaiting an uncertain future.
1974 New hopeSome people recognize that the old vessels are an important part of Dutch history, and deserve to be preserved as such. This doesn't take much of an investment to start with; old ships are sold for their scrap value and can be turned into cheap housing or workshops.
The Catrina is bought by Klaas Pater of the "de Dissel" (the adze) shipyard, who starts to renovate her. Pieter van den Brandt buys her in 1976 and uses her as a houseboat and studio.
1982 Old gloryThis next generation of skippers means to restore their ships to their original state. They search for old pictures and ask retired skippers about how things went in the old days. Forgotten crafts are brought back to life.
Rob Goud takes over the Catrina and gets her under sail again, together with his wife Jannie Bosman. They restore her further, paying close attention to her original appearance.
1986 Charter shipRestoring a ship takes time, and quite a bit of money. The young skippers offer to take friends, family and tourists to come along for a sailing trip, for a small price. The money goes towards the restoration. This creates a new hospitality sector that still keeps around 400 traditional ships afloat today.
Rob Goud is also bitten by the charter bug. He refurbishes the interior so that up to 26 people can spend the night on board. He also renames the ship Catharina van Mijdrecht, after his mother and his hometown.
1990 ProfessionalizationCharter sailing becomes a professional business; the skipper becomes a host. Others make a living from the supporting business, producing and repairing sails, masts and leeboards, or start a booking agency.
Rob Goud is not a sailor himself, so he hires Udo Verlaan as his skipper. Udo takes the ship on hire purchase in 1990. With his partner Hennie Varwijk he makes a lot of technical improvements, like a new engine and central heating. From Monnickendam they sail the IJsselmeer and Wadden Sea for many years with their -often returning- guests.
1999 New rulesThe relatively flexible Dutch regulations in the 90s allow charter sailing to blossom, but in the new millennium it comes under threat of stricter European legislation. However, things don't turn out badly, and after a transitional period all vessels comply with the new safety regulations.
Hennie and Udo want to expand their horizons in 1999, so they sell the Catharina to Jos Rodewijk and his later wife Sandra Fox. Some very busy years follow: they sail the Wadden Sea in summer, offer B&B accommodation in Amsterdam during the spring, and in winter Jos modernizes the ship while Sandra studies in Germany.
2005 Direct contactFrom the early years of charter shipping skippers have relied on agencies for their bookings. However, as it becomes easier to maintain Internet communications on board, Jos and Sandra start booking trips themselves more and more. Direct contact with their customers is important to them; their guests often have personal wishes, especially on daytrips. From 2008 they take all bookings into their own hands. In spite of the economical crisis they manage to reach a good turnover.
2006 Next generationAt less than one week old, their daughter Elies comes along on her first sailing voyage. Many trips follow, often with Sandra's mother Renate as nanny. Daughter Mia is born in 2009. Sailing a full season with children and guests on board is hardly possible on the Catharina, but Jos can spend more time at home with the family by focusing on daytrips. In 2012 Jos' new girlfriend -now fiancée- Danny takes on the catering. They hope to be sailing on the Catharina together for many years to come.
2013 Nederland WaterlandDuring the summer of 1913 the IDTV film company records “Nederland (Netherlands) Water land”, a documentary series for Dutch TV. For five weeks, the Catharina van Misdirect serves as accommodations for the film crew, and as an important feature and backdrop in the series. The series is broadcast during the winter of 2014-15.
2016 A hundred yearsFinally, the Catharina van Mijdrecht gets to celebrate her centenary. She was launched a hundred years ago, starting an eventful life that she has undergone with flying colours. Of course we are not just going to let this milestone pass us by; we will be celebrating with festivities and anniversary offers!
Old photosThe here displayed old photos are unfortunately not all of the Catharina of Mijdrecht, from before 1970 there are no pictures available. These are "sister ships"; identical ships built in the same period on a shipyard.