Boat Owner Reviews


"Something unique… this is where Van Dam really excels."

I wanted something unique—unique to the point of being one of a kind (Is that redundant?), and this is where Van Dam really excels. With Van Dam, it is not just “Sure, we can do that!” but more like “let’s take a look at it (on the computer) and see how it looks, how it works, what are the implications…” While your quality is again “a given,” I think that the strength and importance of the interplay of your craftsmanship and technical resources is too easily overlooked.

Just take Jacqueline out, put her up on plane, trim her out, open her up, take your hands off the wheel and you will see what I mean.

Step bottom, custom engine, custom Arneson surface drive, custom ratio gear box, put them all together and few other builders would know where to begin, much less understand the complex interplay of the components. Oh yes, I forgot, let’s finish it off with a carbon fiber drive shaft.

I won’t take any more of your time up with this other than to point out that she came in on budget, on time—virtually unheard of in the world of custom (and I mean custom) boats. If you want a boat like your brother-in-law’s, don’t bother with Van Dam; but if you want something truly unique, take a trip to Boyne City.

- Chris Freihofer (Jacqueline)




"Handles beautifully, cruises effortlessly, sips fuel…"

Cruising easily at 25

I can say without contradiction from anyone who has dealt with Van Dam boatbuilders, that they are the most accommodating, brilliant, and precise builders on the Great Lakes. Probably in America and beyond!

I have had many old classic cars restored, and the stories are often gory with cost overruns, shoddy workmanship, and endlessly postponed finish dates. Not so with Steve Van Dam and his great team of designers and builders.

After nearly a year of work on design, I changed my mind as to cabin configuration. Expecting groans of annoyance and disapproval, I was surprised to hear nothing but praise for my ideas (perhaps because those ideas didn’t alter the hull design!) and an immediate change was put in place.

They were very sensitive to the kind of boat I was looking to build and were delighted to resurrect some old shapes and styles to accommodate me. I was given a price and a finish date, and the boat was delivered exactly as promised, in perfect running order and finish. She handles beautifully, cruises effortlessly, sips fuel, and can laugh at the four foot seas of the Straits Of Mackinac. I could go on, but I would only add more superlatives. If you are looking to build a boat of any size, style, speed or pleasurable use, to the most exacting standards of workmanship and finish and seaworthiness, there is simply no better place to do it than Van Dam Custom Boats. I will happily repeat that to anyone who asks!

- Ed Herrmann (Iris)



"The most beautiful boat on the lake!"

I drove to Boyne City to visit the Van Dam shop because I was looking for a special boat that I would use and cherish for a lifetime. After visiting the shop and seeing their work, I knew that Steve and his team would produce a boat with the utmost attention to detail and with the best available technology. But more importantly, I felt they would listen to my needs and wants, but would not let me make a mistake. They gave me confidence every step of the way. It was a delightful process working with them.

The result was Nokomis. She is strong, fast, and well-balanced. She can corner like a jet ski at high speed when you want to make your guests smile. She attracts attention wherever my wife and I go.

She is the center of our social life on Geneva Lake.

From cocktail cruises to watching sailboat races to shuttling people to concerts on the lake, she handles it all. The surprise has been that the boat has needed remarkably little maintenance over the seven seasons on the water. She’s been back only once for a “buff and puff.” We keep her on a lift under a canopy with side curtains and she’s ready to go at a moment’s notice. It also doesn’t hurt that I get glowing comments about her at every boat show I take her to. She is a standout!

I'll never forget the day she was launched. An older gentleman stood and watched us unwrap Nokomis and set her up to be dropped in the water. When she was going in, the gentleman signaled my wife to come over and said, "You win!" To her confused look he added, "The most beautiful boat on the lake!" I know I feel that way still, and believe I always will.

- Charles L. Colman (Nokomis)



"Beautiful mix of art and engineering…"

Everything about working with the Van Dam organization was first-rate. I often tell people of their commitment to excellence and that they have that beautiful mix of art and engineering—of conceptual elegance mixed with the pragmatic know-how to effect it.

- JZ Morris (Patrician)



"Knowing I had the best."

I think the best part of owning my Van Dam was being involved in the design - and after watching it being built, knowing I had the best.

- Greg Fisher (Chiara)