The Willem Jacob is a Dutch one-masted clipper, she was built in 1889 on a wharf in Slikkeveer, near Rotterdam. She was built to sail cargo, mainly piece goods, for example bricks. In her working life the ship has known many transformations.
The order to built the ship came from a brick manufacturer, Mr van der Elst. His son was named "Willem Jacob" whom he named the ship after. A great part of the history of the Willem Jacob is perserved thanks to Mr. Floor Schaddelee. His ancestors sailed the ship from 1889 until 1980, initially as employees, later his family managed to buy the ship. Over time the ship has been renamed several times, at first she was renamed "Maria", after the owners' wife and when she was sold again she became "Adriana Cornelia" after the new owners' wife.
Back then the skipper and his family all lived aboard in the deckhouse and they used to sleep underneath the aftdeck. As long as the children were young, deckhands were employed, usually 1 to 2. The deckhands lived together with the family but slept near the bow of the ship. As soon as the children were old enough they helped aboard as deckhands.
Initially the ship was built without an engine, in the beginning of the 20th century the owner decided to put in an auxiliary motor. With the economic uprise around 1930 the auxiliary motor was exchanged for more powerful engine and the rigging went off and she became a motor vessel.
The ship had Werkendam as a home port until 1980, she sailed the Rhine and most of her trips to Germany. There have been periods that the ship did not come back to Holland for 2 years. Willem Jacob is a wonderful sailor, which has all to do with the area she was built for. Often sailing the Rhine, she had to battle against the strong current, this requires a swift and well tacking ship. For those days the ship was well equipped with a large rigging, lots of square meters and a fast sailor. These properties are nowadays still well noticeable aboard the Willem Jacob.
Early in the 80's the ship became a sailing vessel again, she was bought by Dick van Andel. He restored the ship within 5 years to make it suitable for sailing with guests. Dick van Andel made a remarkable journey with the Willem Jacob, he sailed her to Leningrad in 1985. During this trip he realized that the Willem Jacob was not built to sail the large open waters and Mr van Andel bought the hull of a threemast schooner and started restoring this new ship, because he desired to sail the oceans. Meanwhile he sold the Willem Jacob to a man in Nijmegen, This new owner did not sail the ship himself, he hired several skippers to sail her, many have learned to sail aboard the Willem Jacob in this period. Her home port was Hoorn and she made countless trips on the Ijsselmeer and Waddenzee.
In the year 2000 the ship was sold again, this time to a skipper in Harlingen which became the new home port of the ship. She sailed there for 2 years, this owner was forced to sell the ship after a fire destroyed most of the interior of the ship. This is when the present owner bought the ship and started restoring her. In the first 7 years he has been busy restoring over 60% of the ship. Read about the restoration activities.