In 2017, Van Dam Custom Boats celebrated 40 years of craftsmanship. This family business, founded in Michigan by married couple Steve and Jean Van Dam, has always had a passion for perfection and is today synonymous with all things deemed uniquely fluid, luxuriously dynamic and intricately detailed.
Trained as a wooden boat builder in the early 1970’s, Steve is one of those on board early in the use of epoxy as a part of wooden boatbuilding in North America. The company is still using the finest materials and the latest in technology when designing and manufacturing its unique hand-crafted boats. A vessel from Van Dam Custom Boats is always the only one of its kind.
When classic wooden boat designs are incorporated with highly evolved engineering, the finished product is strong, beautiful and extraordinary. “If you want to differentiate yourself by the boat you own and you want it to be a true representation of you…or if you want to show your appreciation and love of true craftsmanship, we are the right solution for you,” says company president, Ben Van Dam. A naval architect in his own right and son of founders Steve and Jean, Ben notes that the company has never intended to build a production model and looks past the fact that there are cheaper, faster and less structurally sound methods of building boats.
The cold molded process used at Van Dam Custom Boats affords owners a strong, lightweight vessel that is watertight and impervious to rot or cracking from swelling. Van Dam boats are built so that the raw wood never has to interact with, or react to, the element of water. “We build a variety of sizes and types of cold molded wooden boats and have had a relationship with Diab for over 10 years”, says Steve Van Dam. “When we have had an application requiring a structural core, our go-to product has been Diab’s Divinycell core material. We have used this product between wooden skins, and also with carbon fiber or glass fiber in certain applications.”
The construction of the stunning 50′ Motor Yacht Sunray, designed by Michel Berryer of Van Dam Custom Boats, began during the fall of 2015. Classically styled with a nod to vintage 1960’s watercraft, Sunray sports a beam of 13′ 6″. The boat will be built from mahogany with a displacement of 35,000 lbs. A core material is used in key areas such as the cabin and wheel house, allowing for a lighter boat that still has a beautiful wooden finish. “For Sunray, we will be using the HM80”, says Ben Van Dam, “primarily for insulation in the Florida sun but also as a structural component between wood skins in the cabin sides and top.” A 450 gallon fuel tank feeds two Cummins 8.3 L-600 HP diesel engines that give Sunray a speed of more than 35 knots. Sunray is full of custom details such as inlaid with SS Mahogany trim and a unique double wide helm seat. It is also equipped with a complete Garmin navigation package, including two big screen displays and autopilot, a Seakeeper 6 gyro stabilizer, a full galley with state-of-the-art appliances. It features plenty of fresh water tankage for a hot shower in the beautifully detailed head compartment and underwater lighting for that night time swim off her teak swim platform.