By Georgia Tindale
A vision of a more eco-friendly
future for yachting.
What do you get when you combine a prime location with deep technical expertise, a historic shipyard dating back to 1921 and currently the largest travel lift in the Netherlands (480 tonnes). The answer: Amsterdam Yacht Builders. A fresh entry to the superyacht scene which came into being in January this year, Amsterdam Yacht Builders offers the whole gamut of services, from refit to maintenance, new build and more, bolstered by a management team of industry experts.
But how do you make a name for yourself when entering the densely populated Dutch yacht-building market? Here, we speak to director Robert Binnekade to find out how AYB’s recent full-electric workboat project offers a vision of a more eco-friendly future for yachting.
One of the key elements of Amsterdam Yacht Builders’ operation is ensuring that its team is clued up about all of the facets of yacht building. Crucially, this enables them to work closely with the wealth of shipbuilding experts in the Amsterdam area.
As Binnekade explains: ‘What we want to do differently from our competitors is having at least one person in the company that has the expertise for every subset of skills you need to build a ship.’
He continues: ‘They can verify everything to ensure we design the right engine and generators and order the correct components from subcontractors – we get it right the first time, and don’t end up ‘Lego blocking’ a yacht together. This ensures the yacht is made to the best possible specifications.’
Electric: fully charged
AYB has already proven its technological mettle through its recent full-electric workboat project with an Amsterdam-based non-profit organisation, in which they converted the company’s diesel-powered waterway cleaning vessels into electric powered boats.
Measuring 13 metres and with a top speed of 15.5 knots, these are the world’s first-ever fully electric push boats, with a DC to DC fast charging capability of 30 minutes or less to get back to full power. ‘Think Tesla supercharger, then add a bit more,’ says Binnekade.
Sizing it up
But could this technology be harnessed for a larger size? Binnekade thinks so. `We can fully customise an electric or a hybrid powertrain in any yacht. We envision a world in which we use the mother vessel’s batteries to fast charge tenders, dinghies and other craft. As well as silent drive, owners can have the comfort of tenders not powered by gasoline or diesel. This is a unique selling point for us.’
This eco-friendly offering extends well beyond the powertrain. ‘We don’t just look at the powertrain of a yacht, we can add in all the air conditioning and hot water units because everything is an energy source or energy storage. You can combine the batteries with these systems and you don’t quite have a zero-emissions ship, but you have a very energy efficient ship.”
Then there is the question of cost, with this technology potentially making the powertrain 60-70% more expensive. However, as Binnekade highlights: ‘Making a cutting-edge yacht is never a cheap proposition. If you look at it from a whole system perspective, you can get some gains in terms of total power usage – and diesel prices are going up. In the near future it will get to a point where it is comparable.’
With AYB currently capable of building new-build yachts up to 50 metres, Binnekade hints towards larger future possibilities. ‘With some investments, we could go bigger, as our travel lift can lift much larger than that.’
On the new build side, things are looking promising, although it’s still early days for AYB (and there’s been the matter of the global pandemic to contend with), as Binnekade explains: “So far, we’ve had three real expressions of interest in new builds, and we have made some offers. We are just waiting for somebody to sign their name on the line.”
In the meantime, AYB will focus on building its reputation through refit and service work, including for the three-time shipyard visitor, the 28-metre Hakvoort sailing yacht Mandarine, as well as the 35-metre Claassen F-Class Firefly, and many more.
With all of this technical know-how in its arsenal, all that remains is to keep an eye on the sheds at Zaandam to see what innovative projects emerge from Amsterdam Yacht Builders in the coming years.