Twelve metal workers paying a contribution of ten cents a week, a rented plot just north of Amsterdam with a self-built shed made from used corrugated steel, a portable forge and a welding machine. These were the ingredients for the first yard set up by cooperative association Vooruit in 1927. Today, under the name Amsterdam Yacht Service, the yard covers 12,000 square metres of slipways, docks, construction hall and a metal-working shed.
The dream of the original twelve metal workers has come true. Their history started on 23 June 1921 with the establishment of the metal-workers association Vooruit. The members made plans for building their own yard and, to save the necessary funds, they constructed two rowboats which they rented out while also making small repairs. The money earned was spent on advertising in weekly magazines to bring in new orders.
The first slipway
Three years later, the first slipway is in place and the yard is active with everything from maintenance and repairs on barges to new builds. The construction of barges in the so-called Zaanse size (specifically to fit the locks in the Zaan region) becomes a speciality and the yard is booming at its location on Sluispad.
A new location
With so much business, the cooperative finds a great new location in 1935 on Zuiddijk in Zaandam, 500 metres from where the Voorzaan canal flows into the North Sea Canal. The members build two slipways, a shed and a paint warehouse. This perfect deep-water location allows the cooperative to dry dock and repair larger vessels, and the orders continues to flow. With the cooperative concept fading, the first paid employees are welcomed in 1936.
Time of war
The boom ends when the war starts. Because the cooperative refuses to work for the Germans, it struggles to survive. With repair work here and there, the yard just about manages to keep its head above water.
After the war, things quickly turn around for the better and the yard is expanded with plots of surrounding land. The activities are changing with the times too. Motorised vessels are increasingly common and ship repairs and renovations become more and more complex. The number of employees grows gradually to 25 (plus five sub-contractors). All staff are highly motivated and internally trained with a wide range of skills; from new builds and repairs to maintenance, refits, extensions & shortenings, and damage repairs.
Today, the yard has a longitudinal slipway, three floating docks for vessels up to 70 metres, a hall measuring 50 by 30 metres, a metal-working shed and several cranes. Since its establishment in 1921, the yard has focused on craftsmanship, and although things have significantly changed over the past century, quality remains a key driver.
Full speed ahead
Now called Amsterdam Yacht Service after new owners took the helm, considerable investments are being made in the future. This includes the installation of a new boat lift for vessels up to 500 tonnes to provide vessels to with fast and efficient service.