Master Boat Builder

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Bert van Baar used to be a teacher / boat builder in the Netherlands. In his home he built his own boat, “caladonial yawl Valentinaaah’’

His fascination for boats started in his early age. When he started learning to read en write, he wrote his first letter to his aunt and told her “Aunty I can draw boats very well” .

Growing up he choose to go to the Dutch Nautical College and became a marine engineer and did an internship at the well known company Smit international towing and salvage company. He made two trips half around the world. When he looks back he will tell you it was the best time of his life and he regrets that he, because he fell in love, decided to quit as a sailor. 

He had several jobs in the industry (sailor, diesel mechanic, proces operator in the oil industry, etc.). When he got tired of that he went back to school and learned to be a teacher. He was inspired bij his former wife who was already a teacher on a primary school. Both being a teacher made them start a family life and they got two lovely daughters.

But what about his fascination for boats? There wasn’t much space for that during his marriage.

After being a primary teacher for almost 25 years Bert had a sabbatical leave of 7 months and he decided to follow his heart and start learning to build his own boat! But during that course at the Enkuizer school of Wooden boats by Kees Prins, that took three months, he was asked to take over the boat building school! Wauw! It was like music in his ears: After about 25 years of teaching kids to read and write, now teaching adults how to build their wooden boat! 

It was in spring 2002 that he became the proud owner of “De Bootbouwschool”, he turned to be 50 years old later that year and his marriage didn’t last. Definitely a turning point in his life.

Since than Bert’s having build about 70 boats in courses and for profit.

It not only changed his working-life for the better. In many ways he got less stressed and had more joy. 

He got divorced very soon after the school take-over and met his current wife Johanna with whom he has a pleasant en joyful life since then.

After the financial crisis ‘was organized’ and hit the world in 2008, that slowly dried up his boat building clients, he got involved in boat building as a teacher at the Hout & Meubilerings College in Amsterdam in 2011. Here classes of up to 16 students build their own boat, from 14′ sailboats to 18′ runabouts and everything in between. Even one student did build an 18′ airplane last year! OK, it is a hull too ….

Bert is a very loved en inspiring teacher. He knows how to get the best out of his pupils, even if they are seniors in his own boat building school or the younger boys on his regular school in Amsterdam. His professionalism and his passion for everything that has to do with boats brings him, and often his students, all around the world.

 Almost two years ago Bert was asked by the Australian Wooden Boat festival, that takes place every two years in Hobart, Tasmania,  to build a 16.2m Dutch design sailboat in the in the beautiful township called Franklin, Tasmania. He felt blessed and happy to go there with six students from his school who could use this experience as their internship. If you want to learn more about this project you can read more on:

And then what! Bert is going to retired and although he wanted to continue on the regular school, they did not allow him to go on. 

So suddenly a lot of time to do different things. Actually a boat builder never retires because there are always interesting events to deal with. Because Bert his workshop is in Den Helder he is familiar with the guys from the Tres Hombres and Nordlys. A few years ago he met Lynx, volunteering on the Tres Hombres ( Recently Bert found out that Lynx Guimond and Danielle Doggett had started a familiar project in Costa Rica;

Because Bert’s wife also suddenly came without a job and they wanted to do something useful with their time, Bert and Johanna came to Costa Rica to volunteer. This month Bert starts lofting Ceiba with the volunteers and some local people.

Bert and Johanna both enjoy to be able to contribute to this project and like to spent some time in Costa Rica!