Let’s start at the very beginning…

Let’s start at the very beginning – it’s a very good place to start

No, this page is not about “The Sound of Music”, although we did spend some time in Salzburg while on Catharina Elisabeth – on a one week side trip – and while the beer, castles and mountains of Bavaria were the main events, we also took in some ‘do re mi’ and Mozart, in the city that made them both famous.

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

Instead, this post is the first about the history of Catharina, with the such details as we have of her construction and original registration during 1915 to 1916.


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 that was also named Catharina Elisabeth. At that time, Pieter Verwer was 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


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 (schepen.rotterdam@kadaster.nl) provided us with a copy of the first registration document for our barge, and or great friend 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”

We have since asked for and received a complete listing of the owners of Catharina Elisabeth from the Kadaster.


Another set of information we have is are formal measurements made of the completed vessel on the 8th of May 1916 in the nearby town of Alkmaar. We found this by placing our barge’s ‘brandmerk’, a unique identification number, in an online database created and maintained by the Dutch Historic Boats Association (LVBHB), which contains 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. An experienced Dutch person states that the name was a mistranscription into the measurement record of the name P Verwer.

First Measurement of Catharina Elisabeth


Original handwritten entry.


The Verwer family initially would have known this barge as Catharina Elisabeth II, as their older, smaller barge was also called Catharina Elisabeth. They used both barges into the 1930’s but what became of the original Catharina Elisabeth is not known to us. We have a separate page detailing what we know of the original Catharina Elisabeth.

Further to this measurement record we also have some later measurements and copies of the original, handwritten entries (courtesy of George Snijder of the LVBHB)

From this substantial beginning, we will document as much of the history of Catharina Elisabeth as we can.

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