Ours is a story of drive. Of passion. Of legacy. Ours is a journey of setting Van Dam apart as builders of the finest wooden boats in the world. We are excited to take our clients on this journey with us. To what end? Van Dam Custom Boats has spent 40 years hand crafting wooden boats that can be called the only one.
When classic wooden boat designs are incorporated with highly evolved engineering, the finished product is strong, beautiful, and singular. Every Van Dam is different, but each fulfills a vision. A dream. Founder Steve Van Dam’s dream of sailing to far off places began with a small wooden boat on Lake Macatawa, not far from his family home in Grand Rapids, Michigan. Motivated by self-reliance and a passion to learn, Steve complemented these qualities with a love of wood and water - shaping the undercurrents of what Old World masters term "a calling."
His dream became reality in the woods north of Harbor Springs where he and his wife Jean launched the business now known as Van Dam Custom Boats. Together they constructed their first small boat building shed just north of Lake Michigan. Their family, sharing a love of boating, the out of doors and their strong commitment to the environment, joined them in their pursuit of doing things the right way. Now located in beautiful Boyne City, Michigan, a visceral belief in legacy craftsmanship drives their mission to design and build the world’s finest wooden boats.
Forty years later with his son Ben, a naval architect, at the helm, the company has the ability to create a world-class custom boat or yacht regardless of its size or complexity. State-of- the-art computer aided design programs are incorporated throughout the planning and building process. Metal fabrication and mechanical systems are accomplished on site. "We make our own parts and pieces—everything from metal hardware to complex electrical systems," says Steve. A crew of 10 to 12 skilled boat builders, divided into smaller teams per project, utilize the finest materials and technology available to build their amazing watercraft.
Whether custom built or restored by Steve, Ben and their talented crew, each custom craft and her owner become part of the Van Dam family. Together, craftsman and client proudly realize building the only one in the world. And it’s quite a journey.