Frequently Asked Questions
Will you deliver to another country?
We can make the arrangements to deliver anywhere in the world.
Can you teach me how to operate the boat?
We will spend whatever time it takes to make you feel comfortable operating your boat.
Do you deliver?
We can deliver, or we can arrange delivery.
How long does it take to build a boat?
For a project of average complexity, it generally takes 6 months to a year to build. For bigger projects or projects with really complex systems, it can take upwards of a year—but we are worth the wait.
What does a boat cost?
It depends what you want. We build custom boats so we do not have a “price list” for standard models. As we work through the Discovery Phase of the process we can give some ballpark prices. However, we need to do preliminary design work to give accurate budgets. We will quote a price for preliminary design work after our Discovery phase conversations. We can do simple, we can do complex – these affect the price.
How large a boat can you build?
In our current shop configuration we can build up to 75 ft., but if you want something bigger we have room to add on to our shop.
What is your warranty?
When you buy a new boat from Van Dam we warrant the undamaged wood structure and exterior skins of the hull and deck to be free from leaks or rot for as long as you own the boat. There are, of course, conditions which we will review with you as we go through our Discovery process.
Will I be able to see the construction process?
We think it is important to see the construction process, to see the Van Dam difference. You are welcome to visit anytime while your boat is being built. We will also update you weekly with pictures taken during the week.
Can you take care of my boat in the off-season, or if it is damaged?
Yes, this is a service we offer to all our customers. If the boat is too far away to bring to us, we can offer guidelines and assistance to your own service people.
What do your customers say about you?
Check out our testimonials from past clients. We will connect you with past and existing clients if you are ready to take a proposal.
Can I see a finished boat?
All our boats are built to order, so we do not have “stock” boats. In the summer many boats leave; however in the fall, winter, and spring we always have multiple finished boats to see. We always have boats under construction, and at least one or two finished boats on site. You can check out photos of completed boats in our Boat Gallery and if you contact us, we can let you know if there are Van Dam boats in your area that you can see.
What should I look for when trying to compare boat builders?
It is imperative to visit the facility where the boats are built and see a boat under construction. You want to look “under the hood”, and seeing a boat under construction is the best way to do this. At Van Dam, nothing is hidden. We put a clear finish on all the hidden areas of our boats so that you can see every detail. You can crawl into the depths of the boat and it will be finished neatly and in plain view.
We recommend you come and visit us first; we will educate you on what to look for- then go out and compare. When you go elsewhere:
- Check what wood species are used – there are good boatbuilding woods and there is wood that is not appropriate.
- If the hidden areas are painted, look closer. What is being covered up?
- Ask if the mechanical systems are completed to American Boat and Yacht Council (ABYC) standards. Is the builder an ABYC member? We have been a member for over 25 years.
- Check if the mechanical systems are installed neatly. We can show you how they should be done.
- Always talk to the people doing the work. Are they knowledgeable and experienced? Do they enjoy what they are doing? Good attitudes make good boats.
- Look at the tools used in the construction process and the facility it is housed in. You can’t build a beautiful work of art with dull, beat-up old tools, and you can’t do quality work in a shop that is a pile of boards and dust with a few boats mixed in. Look at how things are arranged; it says a lot about the mentality of the work force.
- Ask who is doing the design work. Are they experienced and are they using state of the art CAD systems and software. The use of 3D modeling, while not required, gives you a pretty good picture of how technically capable a company might be. 2D drawings might be sufficient for simple projects, but if you are looking at a project with more complexity, whether it is in the hull form, layout, or the operation of an advanced moving system, like a push button retractable top or an electrically operated fold-out swim platform, 3D modeling is a key factor
Why build in wood?
- It’s beautiful!!
- It is strong
- When done correctly it is durable
- It is an efficient way to build a one-of-a-kind boat
What is your building process?
We build boats using epoxy adhesives to glue our boats together in a process commonly call “cold molding.” This creates a boat that is stronger than traditional wood construction, and when done correctly, is more durable. We employ composite materials when appropriate to enhance the strength or longevity of our boats. You can read more in-depth about this on our Building Process page.
What makes Van Dam different than other boat builders?
We are craftsmen. We pay attention to every detail. We understand there may be similar ways to build a boat, but there are not similar standards. We build each boat to the highest standards. We back up that claim with a lifetime warranty. We don’t have investors or absentee owners whose only concern is the bottom line. Our only concern is doing it right. What we offer is:
- We are invested in these boats. They become part of our family. We are not a production facility so each individual boat consumes our thoughts for the length of the build. We eat, drink, breathe and sleep your boat.
- Low production means your boat gets special attention.We have the technical ability to do a range of projects, from small and simple to large and complex. Want to check your fuel level from your iPhone? We can do that. Want to power your boat with a hybrid engine? We can do that. Challenge us, we are problem solvers.
- Technical expertise
- In-house hand metalworking and CNC machining
- In-house design and engineering
- In-house CAD capabilities using state-of-the-art software
- Versatile - we can do simple and complex
- Open to new ideas and customer involvement
- We don’t do things like they used to – we do it better
- Extreme attention to detail
What kind of wood do you use?
We select wood for where and how it is used. For interiors we can work with any species. For structures we select woods that are stable, durable, and strong. For exteriors we generally stick with mahogany and teak.
What kind of engines do you use?
We use whatever engines are appropriate for your budget and performance requirements. We work with select engine builders if the project requires extra speed or a higher level of appearance, or we can work with stock equipment.
What is vacuum bagging?
This is a method used to remove all the air between an impervious surface (such as a table, or partially built boat hull) and a flexible impervious sheet (the bag). When the air is removed between the two impervious materials by a vacuum pump, the air pressure in our atmosphere pushes the two impervious surfaces together. This can yield a clamping pressure of up to 15 psi. We have been using this technique as appropriate in our boatbuilding since the early 1980s.
What is cold molding?
It is the process of laminating thin layers of wood together with the grain in opposing directions (as in plywood) to form compound shapes such as a boat. In our shop we use room temperature cure epoxy glues (this is where “cold” comes from) to laminate the wood together. Just as a sheet of plywood is stronger and more stable than individual boards, cold molded wood is more stable and stronger than solid wood planks held together with screws. We have successfully been building our boats this way since we started in 1977.