Discover Benelux | Dutch Design | Made in the Netherlands
The yacht doctors in Urk TEXT: BAS VAN DUREN | PHOTOS: BALK SHIPYARD
Expensive things need care, just ask anyone owning a good car, a big house or a Stradivari. Yachts are no exemption to this rule and it is at Balk Shipyard in Urk, the Netherlands, where ship-owners from all over the world come for care, as well as radical changes to their form of transportation. This special shipyard has been run by the Balk family for seven generations with Daan Balk at the helm since 1998. With a core business of refitting and rebuilding yachts, the Balk Shipyard at Urk has seen its fair share of vessels. With refitting, Balk works on repairs and maintenance for there are many ships that have been a bit neglected right before a sale and thus need something more than just a lick of paint. Rebuilding is far more radical, working on the interior and exterior, making the yacht look completely different. One might ask ‘why not buy a new one?’,
but Daan Balk knows the motivations of his clientele: “A yacht can last a lifetime and several have emotional value as part of the family, but can still be in need of modernisation. That’s what we provide.” Rebuilding a yacht takes expertise and as an example, Balk mentions a yacht he’s working on that used to be owned by Arabs but just got sold. He explains: “It’s more than just changing the floors and curtains. Together with a styling expert, we look at the ceilings, furniture, walls, deck, everything really. We have a staff of 60 people with each their own speciality and if we don’t have the required specialist in-house, we have a large network that can support where needed, from electronics to Italian marble.” Having to work this intensively on a ship, makes you wonder if Balk and his team consider the vessels as their babies. He
starts to laugh and affirms. “Our customers see the passion and pride in us and the connection we make with the ships. They return sometimes and even bring brothers and sisters along, because if our customers buy a yacht somewhere, we usually are their go-to place to remove all the minor nuisances. It’s a testament to the good work we do and we’re still growing; soon we’re moving to a new spot between Urk and highway A6 and will triple our size, making it possible to cater more to the Dutch market.”
Issue 48 | December 2017 | 35
Promoting Belgium, The Netherlands and Luxembourg.