Apprenticeshop grad at home shop in the Netherlands

Dec 14, 2013

Rockland — After spending more than three months as a student in The Apprenticeshop’s intensive boatbuilding course last spring, Dutchman Henk Roelvink sold his shop-built 12-foot John Atkin-designed Nina sailing dinghy to a local Waldoboro man and set off on a tour of the northeastern United States.

A retiree and lover of boats, boatbuilding, sailing and all things maritime, Roelvink had to return home to the northern Netherlands city of Enkhuizen, a seaside community on IJsslmeer Lake.

On a 2012 tour of New England, he found The Apprenticeshop, the school for traditional boatbuilding and seamanship in Rockland, after visiting one of his boatbuilding heroes, Walter J. Simmons, who lives in Lincolnville.

“Simmons told me to visit also The Apprenticeshop while I was in the Midcoast, and I did,” Roelvink claims. “And then, The Apprenticeshop came into my heart, and it will never go.”

The Apprenticeshop was fortunate enough to catch up with Roelvink in Enkhusizen recently and got the grand tour, including The Zuiderzee Museum, a history museum peppered with centuries of Dutch maritime heritage. After having raw herring and onion sandwiches, a local specialty, they drove on the 32 km dam Afsluitdijk and paid a visit to the campus of the Enkhuizen Maritime School.

But the highlight of the trip was visiting the small boatbuilding shop, into which The Apprenticeshop grad has converted his basement. It was too expensive and too complicated to ship his Nina back to the Netherlands, but he was not ready to let go of owning a sailing dinghy he had built himself. After returning from his summer travels, Roelvink got right back into the shop. His latest project is another 12 footer, this time by designer Francois Vivier. The boat is a Morbic 12, not too far from the Atkin Nina, but is made of plywood instead of pine.

“I love making boats and sailing them,” he said. “I will always have a build going.”

Interestingly, Roelvink also introduced The Apprenticeshop to his good friend and local boatbuilding teacher Bert van Barr who specializes in teaching nine-day courses in wooden boatbuilding. At present, The Apprenticeshop is negotiating to fly van Barr to Rockland in the summer of 2014 to teach a similar class.

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