The owner of this yacht knew everything about the Feadship story having worked at both the Van Lent and De Vries yards. In fact, at the time he found one of the smallest members of the Feadship Heritage Fleet – the 7.75-metre Robert Jan when launched in 1933, now named after her owner – he was working on the largest Feadship to date, the 101.50-metre Symphony.
“This small boat was moored up in Amsterdam opposite my office with grass growing out of it,” he recalls. “Although she was falling apart, the shaping caught my eye and I often thought ‘one day I’ll buy her.’ That day came in May 2012 when I saw a ‘For Sale’ sign and a week later I owned a Feadship!
“Not that I knew this at the time. Despite taking the boat apart and realising she’d been built with a great sense for detail, I could not find out where she came from. One day I was looking for something related to my work in the Feadship archives and noticed the design of the transom on one of the boats. It was exactly the same as De Keizer and we managed to find enough information to verify that by size, hull plating and frame. It was the first steel ‘Feadship’ and the first time De Vries and De Voogt worked together.
“She was also displayed at the first boat show ever held in Holland in 1933, arranged by Henri de Voogt – and to cap it all I live just across from the Apollo Hall where that show took place. The photos of ‘my’ boat being horse drawn from the yard in Aalsmeer to Amsterdam are amazing: seven were built but only one in this size.”
The owner rebuilt De Keizer in a small shipyard and 99 percent of the steel is still in place, as is the steering. “Now I love to take her out with family and friends,” he says. He still berths the boat in front of his office in Amsterdam. “You can even camp in her with the kids as there are two beds, a toilet, a shower and a fridge. Who would have thought I would ever own a Feadship!”