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My skûtsje was built in 1908 by the Wildschut Brothers shipyard in Gaastmeer, a small village in southwestern Friesland. The barge had been commissioned by Age Vaandriks of the nearby village of Koudum, and on 20 March 1909 it was measured and entered into the ledgers in Sneek as De Nieuwe Zorg, registration number S831N. Her length was listed as 16.33 metres, her beam as 3.43 metres and she was calculated at 31.064 tonsDe Nieuwe Zorg means The New Concern or The New Worry, which was a common name for skûtsjes at the time; between 1895 and 1923 there were nearly four dozen skûtsjes commissioned as Nieuwe Zorg, De Nieuwe Zorg or Nieuwe Zorgen.

The next thing I've been able to trace about her is from an online transcription of data from the registry ledgers. She was re-measured on 25 June 1941, and her new data were entered Into the ledger: length 16.38 metres, beam 3.44 metres and tonnage 31.971. Her new registration number was G6496N, and her new owner was Douwe Albert Visser of Stavoren.

 

I tried to trace Douwe Albert Visser, but I kept coming up with modern versions of the name. My online searches were seriously affected by there currently being an Albert Visser and two Douwe Vissers as very competitive skûtsje racers, each as skipper of one of the fourteen competing skûtsjes in the annual SKS championship series.

 

In August 2013 Douwe Visser, Jzn. skippered his crew in the De Sneker Pan to his third consecutive championship in the fourteen-day, eleven-race series. This was his eighth championship since taking over as skipper in 1989. Complicating our search further is the fact that a Douwe Visser, Azn. is also an SKS skipper, and he won the series championship twice, 2005 and 2009 in the skûtsje, Doarp Grou. In 2011, 2012 and 2013 he was runner-up to his cousin Douwe.

 

Further confusing search engines is that Albert Visser, Jzn, brother of the Sneker Pan’s skipper, had for years been the skipper of Twee Gebroeders, the SKS skûtsje from Drachten, and in 2013 he moved to take over as skipper of the Lemster skûtsje. With all the notable skûtsje involvement of these modern Douwe and Albert Vissers, Google couldn’t get me back beyond very recent history.

We found a photograph of Douwe Visser and his wife Tjitske Salverda posing at the tiller of Nieuwe Zorg with their first two sons Albert and Taeke in 1931. From this, we can assume that they had bought the skûtsje in 1931 or earlier. Further communications confirmed that Douwe was the grandfather or the great uncle to more than a third of the skippers of the current SKS fleet. The family members have won the SKS championship nineteen times since 1945 when the organization was established.

 The next piece of information we have is an undated entry in the final column of the original registration ledger, next to the 1941 entry. This indicates that the registration was cancelled. This cancellation presumably happened when she was converted to a houseboat, but we have not been able to determine when that might have been. We do have a photo of Nieuwe Zorg taken in 1975 showing her as a rather ugly houseboat. We have a simple bill of sale dated 03 September 1975 showing Henk van der Zon of Hoofddorp bought Nieuwe Zorg from T. Olderhage of Lisse for Fl 15,000, which was about CA$10,000 at the time. 

Henk was a professional welder and between 1975 and 1977 he and his wife Madij restored and converted the skûtsje to a jachtenroef. Henk told us that for the design of the beautifully curved roef, he had used the design of the Groene Draeck, the Lemsteraak that the people of the Netherlands had given to Princess Beatrix, their future Queen on her eighteenth birthday in 1956. This is a photo dated 1977 showing Nieuwe Zorg restored to sail and looking rather yacht-like.

Henk and Madij had enjoyed and maintained Nieuwe Zorg for thirty-seven years until I purchased her from them in the summer of 2012. Her mast had developed a large longitudinal split, and it had been removed along with her boom and rigging,