Let’s start at the very beginning…

…it’s a very good place to start

No, this post is not about “The Sound of Music”, although we ARE going to spend some time in Salzburg this year – on a one week side trip with Gill and Graham – and while the beer, castles and mountains of Bavaria are the main events, some ‘do re mi’ and Mozart, in the city that made them both famous, are highly anticipated attractions.

'Do' a deer, a female deer ...
‘Do’ a deer, a female deer …

Instead, this post is the first about the history of our barge, something we will document extensively in its own page, but we’ll drop some highlights in this blog – especially when we are not cruising.


According to the history of ‘Zaanlandse Scheepsbouw Maatschappij 1899-1972‘ (Zaanland Shipbuilding Company), during WW1, the shipyard, which was then known as “Czaar Peter Wharf”, records that “on the 20th July 1915, one P. Verver of Krommenie wants to build a motorboat. He is well known, and good for a loan for  f2,000 [sic two thousand florins or guilders] at 5% interest.”

P Verver wants to build a motorboat
Extract from “Zaanlandse Scheepsbouw Maatschappij 1899-1972”


What we know from a great book compiled by Letty Swart “De Wormerveerse Schipperij” (The Wormerveer Skippers), is that ‘P. Verver’ was actually Pieter Maartenzoon Verwer, who at the time was the owner of 15.5 m motorboat of 36 tons powered by a 12 hp motor that was built in 1891. Pieter Verwer was then the principal of a family shipping company ‘Expeditiebedrijf’, that had been founded in 1777 by his great grandfather Adriaan Verwer. Pieter had decided to build a larger boat, of about 20 m powered by a 28 hp motor. He, and his family lived in Wormerveer, the town next to the locality of Krommenie.

The small, Czaar Peter wharf would go on to be a very large shipbuilding company before eventually falling afoul of competition from overseas.

Czaar Peter Shipyard around the time of WW1
Czaar Peter Shipyard around the time of WW1


Another piece of information we have is a formal measurement made of the completed vessel on the 8th of May 1916 in the nearby town of Alkmaar. We found this placing our barge’s ‘brandmerk’, a unique identification number, in a database that has been placed online, that contains of all the dutch barge measurements. Her name was ‘Catharina Elisabeth’, she weighed nearly 53 tons and the owner was listed as P. Zermeriks, who lived in Wormerveer.

First Measurement of Catharina Elisabeth
First Measurement of Catharina Elisabeth

The Verwer family would have known this barge as ‘Catharina Elisabeth II’, as their older, smaller barge was also called Catharina Elisabeth’. The different owner (‘Eigenaar’) name – P Zemeriks – is a little confusing. Perhaps it is someone from the shipyard, or associated with the loan or else simply a transcription mistake whilst copying the measurement record from the paper to electronic version.


The definitive records are those that show the registered owners. These are held by the Kadaster, which holds all the ownership records for large assets such as houses and ships. Peter van der Welle of the Rotterdam Kadaster ( provided us with a copy of the first registration document for our barge, and Michel from ‘t Majeur provided us with the transliteration into readable Dutch, and a literal translation.

First Kadaster Entry for Catharina Elisabeth
First Kadaster Entry for Catharina Elisabeth

The translation reads:

Journal Part 16 nr. 422, May fourth 1900 sixteen.

                     Declaration of ownership

The undersigned Pieter Verwer Maartenszoon skipper at Wormerveer declares hereby to be sole owner of the steel motorvessel named Catharina Elisabeth for his expense in 1915/1916 built at Zaandam by the Unlimited Company Zaanlandsche Scheepsbouw-Maatschappij established at Zaandijk measuring about 60 tonnes having a deck and one mast, belonging at Wormerveer, which vessel has never been at the Mortgageoffice been registered and requests the mister Keeper of the mortgages and Shipscertificates above mentioned motorvessel to be in his name registered.

Wormerveer Mai 3rd 1916

(sig) P. Verwer Mz.

Nr. 31 registered at Amsterdam fourth May 1900 sixteen volume 190, folio 164 verso

Section 4, one page, no crossings out. Received for rights f1,20 for 10 cents tax f0,12 for which One guilder two and thirty cent f1,32.

The xx receiver i.a. n x (sig) van’tHaaff.

For certified copy,

The Keeper (signed)

On the reverse is:

Steel Motorvessel
“Catharina Elisabeth”
±60 tonnes
According declaration
van xxx Ships measurer J. Visser at Alkmaar
dated: 8 May 1916
Branded “5614 Amst: 1916”

Upon that substantial beginning, we plan to discover and document as much of the history of ‘Catharina Elisabeth’ as we can.

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