With a history dating back to 1849, and nearly 135 years being run by the same family, Feadship’s Royal Van Lent shipyard has a long list of accomplishments to its name. While it has dabbled in semi-custom megayacht construction in addition to fully custom megayachts, it is firmly focused solely on custom craft these days. It’s also, interesting enough, focusing on two primary size ranges, these being 131 to 197 feet (40 to 60 meters) and 262 to 328 feet (80 to 100 meters).
We say “interesting” because, unlike some other Dutch shipyards—and even other European shipyards in general—Feadship is still pursuing size ranges that others have deemed too small for their future. Dick Van Lent, a Feadship director, sees opportunities in both the so-called smaller and upper ends of the megayacht market. “Customers drive your size requirements in one way…but if you build bigger boats, they are more complicated, so not as many yards can compete,” he explains.
Royal Van Lent certainly has a bigger, more complicated project in its build shed at present. She’s hull 808, measuring 333 feet (101.5 meters). A confidentiality agreement prevents Feadship from divulging additional details at this point, and prevented us from taking photos during our visit at the end of May. Regardless, hull 808 will be the largest Feadship to date, eclipsing the recently delivered Madame Gu (known as project Dream under construction) upon her handover next year.
Also at Royal Van Lent during our visit: the family-focused Sea Owl, pictured at top outside the shed and set for delivery this summer. Just like with the owner of hull 808, which was sitting in the adjacent bay, Sea Owl’s owners were keeping a lid on most details, since the 203’5” (62-meter) megayacht had yet to head out on sea trials. (The first series of tests took place in early June, which we covered in the link above.) They did permit publicity with their previous yacht, a 142-footer (43.3-meter), so here’s hoping they’ll do the same with this Sea Owl once they’ve enjoyed some time aboard. If they acquiesce, we’re betting that the decor will be quite a sight, since the interior design of their 142-footer featured impressive, intricate carvings of wildlife. They have a tight-knit family, too, so areas dedicated to the small set should be equally impressive.
While Royal Van Lent’s 300 full-time craftspeople work on these two megayachts, they’re also working on some projects that won’t make headlines. Nonetheless, they’re just as significant. Each week, a representative from each of the yard’s departments—furniture makers, welders, you name it—give a presentation to all employees. Lasting about 10 to 15 minutes, according to Koos Zitman, sales director for Royal Van Lent, each presentation is designed to help fellow craftspeople understand the various roles played at the yard. Besides this, Royal Van Lent’s craftspeople are building a handicapped-accessible electric boat for the greater community of La Kaag, the small island where the yard is located.
Also in the meantime, the Feadship Heritage Fleet continues to be developed for Royal Van Lent and Royal De Vries clients alike. There are a number of Feadships that are 30 years old or older still out on the waterways, including the 1966-built Ammerland, which treated the media visiting the shipyard to a tour of the local waterways. Arthur van Berge Henegouwen, Ammerland’s owner, restored her himself, quite a challenging task that he says he’d do all over again if the opportunity ever arose. “I loved the project,” he raves. “I loved the project.”
It’s a sentiment other Feadship owners share, new and classic craft alike.