As a friend to Hans and father of Yorrith, I’ve been involved at Steeler Yachts for many years. Following a long maritime career in shipping and becoming owner and captain of a 40-metre-long passenger ship, I’ve gradually become more and more active within Steeler Yachts after selling my own company.
We had 5 cruising tour boats built, so I’m no stranger to shipyards. However, I’ve never before come across the atmosphere I find at Steeler Yachts.
After selling my company, Yorrith and Hans suggested that it might be fun to do some work at Steeler, and so it came to be. An hour became a day, a day became a week and I’ve now been involved full-time at the company for nearly 4 years, in the role of chief Chameleon.
I was away from home a lot during my past life in business, but it’s the day-to-day activities at Steeler that actually keep me away from my wife even more, but I reckon my marriage can withstand an extra lover.
My work at Steeler Yachts is pretty varied, as I function as a skipper on test sails, I transport boats but I also help on major works abroad, or at the shipyard, and I’m part of the regular team to be found at boat shows.
I really love the boat shows, but my captain’s heart beats faster when at the helm and helping the team in complex assignments.
That’s what makes this shipyard so special, a relatively small core group works together to build and maintain the ever-growing fleet. I nowadays also really appreciate customer contact, and although I still haven’t developed a knack for languages, I can get along with customers whether they are from Norway or France, together we have a great time.
It’s hard to define my favourite Steeler because I visit so many owners, but I also look back with a sense of longing at the past, and the larger the Steeler, the closer the steering position comes to what I myself captained. When transporting the NG50 Lady Grace to Hamburg, I get a taste of the sea, and also when sailing the Li-Janne or the Kwintebank, I get that feeling of being back on one of my own ships, they each have their own features which makes them so much fun.
I’ve sailed quite a few nautical miles since Yorrith joined Steeler in 2015, but a number of the trips have been pretty memorable. Together with my brother-in-law and Yorrith, I almost drowned to the north of Guernsey following a leak and malfunctioning deck equipment on board a Van der Valk trade-in. That experience reminded us that the sea should always be treated with respect. I’ll also never forget the delivery of the Evalou. From Steenwijk to Lorient in French Brittany, a 3-day sail. Not to forget the trip on board the Steeler Panorma FF 53. Beaufort 6 heading for Dover, at a speed of 15 knots, and back with a tailwind at 21 knots. 48 hours on the go and home again, who says Dover is a long way away?
My number 1 is most definitely the trip on board the May-Lillian. Alongside my work at Steeler Yachts, I also run a Christmas hamper company together with my brother-in-law. December is not exactly the quietest month of the year for us, but my services were required as usual and I always try to stay flexible. The 57 S ‘May-Lillian’ needed to be sailed from Portsmouth to Steenwijk for sale. My brother-in-law and I had exactly 2 days to do so, including the flight over and the trip back. The weather was challenging, and with hindsight it’s very energising to hear from people who had encountered us, looking down from a P&O ferry from Dover to Calais, and declared us lunatics. What a fantastic yacht on those choppy seas. We set sail at 01.30 hours on 18 December and arrived in Steenwijk at 16.00 hours the following day. It’s that versatility of work, the beautiful trips and variety of harbours which I hope to be able to continue for many years, making many new friends along the way.