Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Design 126 - Zeearend

There are numerous stories about this famous yacht. She was built by De Vries of Amsterdam and launched in 1936. Here's how it came to be. The boat was commissioned by Claes Bruynzeel of Holland. Many will know him and his company as a supplier of Marine plywood, which is still in operation today.

Rod Stephens had been campaigning Stormy Weather in Europe and just won the Fastnet Race of 1935. He was in Amsterdam with Stormy Weather and was headed south the following day. Mr. Bruynzeel noticed he would have to traverse the North Sea Channel and as Stormy Weather had no engine at the time (Rod had removed it for the Fastnet Race as superfluous weight!), Mr. Bruynzeel offered Rod a tow, using his own large ketch. In any event the next day Mr. Bruynzeel found Rod already departed and he watched him tacking out the channel. Rod estimated he made about 150 tacks to clear the channel. As a result Mr. Bruynzeel never caught up to Stormy Weather. He ordered a new design the following day over lunch with Rod.

Here are the plans.

I apologize that the general arrangement is a poor copy. We pulled this off of a microfiche file we had on hand.

Here's another good story. The original Zeearend ended up wasting away tied to a barge in some backwater down in Maryland. The boat sat for months and months completely ignored. So one day a yard worker decided to go onboard, have a look and make sure she was okay. Apparently the main companionway ladder had been removed and put into storage. The yard man jumped down from the cockpit and went right through the cabin sole and right on through the bottom of the boat! The boat sank on the spot pulling the adjacent barge to which she was tied right down with her. All of the hardware was salvaged and that was the end of the original Zeearend.

Anyway, about 20 years ago the descendants of the Bruynzeel family contacted us and discussed building an exact copy of their fathers' boat. I told them that as their father had already paid for the design there would be no royalty charge, which is our normal practice when an existing design is used for new construction. I also mentioned what I knew about the original hardware sitting at yard such-and-such and what had happened to the original boat. My understanding is they were able to purchase the original hardware, binnacle, and so forth and that this is all installed on the new boat.

Here's an image of the new boat at a stage of partial construction. I have included it as the deckhouse/cockpit geometry in very interesting.

By the way, the name means sea eagle in Dutch.

Principal Dimensions
LOA 54'-8"
LWL 40'-0"
Beam 12'-0"
Draft 8'-4"
Displacement 45,260 lbs
Sail Area 1,250 sq ft


  1. Hello, Bruce:

    Must tell you that I worked at the boatyard where Zeearend was left. I also worked at Lippincott Boat Works, and Zeearend was owned by the Lippincott family. She was in great shape in the early '60s. Later, in Maryland, I worked at the yard in question (I still know the yard owners and former manager). Zeearned was sold to a group of Smokejumpers from Montana. They were all great guys, but did't know much about boats. She sank in a slip during the winter. The story at the time was a failed through-hull fitting - the entire interior and all mechanical systems had been removed, so the through-hulss had no hoses or tubing attached. I actually considered buying the boat, but being poor as a churchmouse, decided it would be too much of a project.

    The boat was hauled out on a sand spit and broken up. Some of the fitting are very likely still in the yard. The mainmast stood for a number of years as a sail test platform and flagpole.

    The original construction was unique; old fashioned "composite", meaning alternate steel and wood frames. She was double planked. The rudder heel fitting was a massive bronze forging, about 3 feet long. I was part of the crew that removed "valuables", and brought them into a shed.

    The boatyard is still owned and operated by the same family. I am also friends with the former manager. He likely knows where some of the fitting are located, that is if they are still around.

    It was sad to see this happen. Zeearend was an interesting boat for me personally, knowing the Lippincotts and then working at the yard where she finally met her end.

    E-mail me if want contact info:

    Jeff Wightman,

  2. I love the Zeearend! My father inherited a beautifull model of the boat with exact dimensions built by the world champion of model yachts Joop Globus. His favourite model (he built quite a few all to original specifacations and using original materials, It took him about a week to make a wooden block and it has working winches(!)) was the Zeearend. It now resides with me and I thoroughly enjoy this boat everyday. Though the model is r/c controllable, I might not use it out of fear of breakage.
    I also looked into some background information of the yacht. One of the crewmembers wrote two books about sailing her. The first is called "the 4000 miles of the Zeearend" (in dutch) and handles everything from being built to the training of the crew and the first races. The second book, I haven't got but deals with races such as the fastnet. If someone has this book around, do let me know!!

    In short, I love this boat! if you want pictures of this boat I'd be happy to send them!

    Jelle Dingemans


    1. hallo Jelle
      In "de zeilsport" van H.C.A. van Kampen 4e druk
      staan foto's en lijnenplan etc van de Zeearend.
      In de later uitgaven staat dit niet meer.
      Ik heb ongeveer 50 jaar geleden het model van De Zeearend gebouwd. Daarna er eens een mal van polyester van gevormt waaruit ik er weer een Zeearend romp uitgehaald heb.
      Heb mal nog steeds.
      Mijn zoon gaat er mee verder nu om er weer een RC model van te maken om er samen met zijn zonen mee te varen.
      Prachtige lijnen heeft dit schip.
      Zelf heb ik hier in Nieuw-Zeeland een Vreedenburgh 10.8m schokker (Vollenhovensche schuit) gebouwd.
      Anton Blijlevens Sr.

      navigare necesse est

  3. Bruce,
    I am one of the 'smokejumpers' mentioned in Jeff Wightman's comments. He was very kind. We were young and enthusiastic,but dumber than a box of rocks when it came to boats! I have a couple items from the original Zeearand, including the nameplate. I would be happy to return them to the Bruynzeel family. I also saw a photo of the Zeearand at the Connanicut Yacht Club in Jamestown RI.

    Pat Muri

  4. Sirs,

    My name is Willem Felger, son of Charles Felger who wrote the book "4000 Miles Under Sail" the story of this lovely boat. I was able to track down the movie shot by Jan Hin and have VHS and DVD copies of that very interesting film, thanks to the generosity of Jan's son. It covers the same ground as the book and includes the contruction as well as the racing sadly without sound.

    Back to my late father - he was the liaison between Cees Bruynzeel (not Claes) and the De Vries Lensch yard so was closely involved the the build and was a member of the crew which raced from Newport to Bermuda - winning the magnificent Ida Lewis Trophy and then from Bermuda to Cuxhaven in Northern Germany, which accounts for the 4,000 miles.

    As a keen offshore sailor myself I was saddened to hear a few years ago that Zeearend had been broken up but I couldn't be more pleased to see her reincarnation - will she be named "Zeearend"? I hope so. I plan to visit friends in Washington State next spring and would dearly love to see her - where will she be located? I would of course bring a copy of the DVD with me for the owners.

    Best wishes

    Willem Felger

    Heathfield, East Sussex, England

    1. Dear Willem Felger,

      I am trying to build a model of the Zeearend. But only have the pictures that have been provided in the article here above. Would you have more pictures or a line plan from the designers?
      Please contact me at

  5. Wow. Could you not upload your 'movie' to Youtube? So many would love to see it.

  6. M/V Zeearend was entered in the Bermuda Race in 1964. I was honored to be tapped by Capt. Carl Schoettle, to crew as Harbor Pilot, exiting Absecon Inlet (Atlantic City's hairy inlet) at night, then at sea up to City Island, NY.

    . I was a native of Brigantine so I knew the local Inlets, later a member of the Absecon Inlet CG Aux. Good People. If you wish to contact me: Now sailing Hobies and a Sunfish in Lakewood, NJ. Jeff Gerber
    ----==> JEFFSAIL_NJ732---AT--- Y.A.H.H.O.O. Over & out, shipmates.

  7. here the film! in dutch unfortunately

  8. This is to inform that the new Zeearend has just been moved to Ventis Shipyard, Enkhuizen, Holland, home of other beautifull S&S yachts like 8mR Conewago, 56 ft yawl Impala 2.0 and very soon Circe
    Hans-Peter Baars, Ventis

    1. And the present owner is looking for enthusiastic sailors who are interested to buy her and finish the work

  9. I have the zeearend as a scale build by a onkal off my father and he build also the Groene draak off the Dutch royalties, he was a famous scale builder in the Netherlands and he hasn't finished the build and I want to know measurements off some items like most hights boom etc. can somebody help me out to finish this replica.

  10. Forgot to mark the option notify me, so please if there is somebody whit the please forward. Thank you.

  11. Can anybody send me the tree foto's off the Zeearend send to me so I can start on the miniature I have, the foto's from Internet I can't enlarge them I need the original foto's so I can read the measurements on the second drawing.
    Please send it to there is no limit for my email 📤.

    Thanks in advanced.