An Experience Unlike any Other

You are invited to undertake a journey of discovering true craftsmanship. Building your own curated one of one – the Van Dam way. Here, there is a connection between the past, present and future. There is a partnering of vision and ability; the skill of human hands committed to delivering your dream.  Your want of a perfect watercraft is our labor of love.

Van Dam Custom Boats is driven by a set of values and principles that elevate the meaning of craftsmanship; moving with purpose, engaging the mind and cultivating an attitude of excellence with every build. It results in a custom boat that is built to last; for you, your family and many years of enjoyment on the water.


Be process oriented.

World class organizations are built on a foundation of highly effective, repeatable processes. Look to create processes for every aspect of your work, and then turn those processes into habits to achieve consistent results.

View all of our
cultural fundamentals
Process page


The concept, design and build processes at Van Dam are as unique as our boats. When we design and breathe life into your dream, we explore endless possibilities resulting in a truly tailored fit for you and your needs. Our process honors your ideas and intention while allowing our team to contribute with creativity, ingenuity and imagination.

Starboard view of Dreamboat cruising on Lake Charlevoix

Concept Phase

Forward thinking and a willingness to venture into uncharted territory ensures a never before seen design. During the concept phase we work together to capture your dream on paper and we invite you to dream big.  We strive to select an overall direction for the project including key design components as well as the plan, profile, layout and specifications; giving you the freedom to explore possibilities without committing to a build. If you decide to move forward, we use the drawings generated to provide an approximate cost and timeline for the design phase and build. The concept phase can last anywhere from one to four months depending on the level of engagement and communication you wish to have with us during the process.

Sketches of Dreamboat

Design Phase

Once you are comfortable moving forward with the build, your project moves from the concept phase to the design, engineering and naval architecture (N.A.) of your boat. This is where we take the lead on partnering with a N.A. firm to share the engineering and N.A. work to be done. While the N.A. firm handles the performance, safety and structural studies, our design team continues to dial in the interior and exterior details of your boat. Our goal for the end of this phase is to have a fully detailed CAD model and all necessary shop drawings to begin fabricating your boat, as well as a budget and timeline for the project. The timeline of the design phase varies depending on the complexity of the build, but typically lasts between six and twelve months.

CAD of Dreamboat


This is where we start cutting wood and making sawdust. The hard work and preparation in design sets up a smooth and efficient build. There’s nothing that compares to the feeling of when you step into the woodshop at Van Dam and see mahogany curls on the floor under the skeleton of your boat. As the build progresses, you will stand in the spaces where imagination becomes reality – at the helm, in the galley, on deck. We encourage clients to visit as often as possible during the build to experience every inch of their boat as it comes to life.

Hand planing 5-Star

Sea Trial
& Delivery

At Van Dam, every boat goes through an extensive sea trial process right here in Boyne City, on Lake Charlevoix. Van Dam not only delivers your boat in person, after final review of all aspects of performance and construction, they offer guidance as you and your boat get to know each other. From manning the wheel and rigging the sails, to reviewing the unique details of your original design, we don’t say goodbye until you’re operating and enjoying your boat with seamless confidence.

Launch of Dreamboat

Forever Family

You’ve taken delivery of your custom boat and broken the champagne bottle over the bow. Your relationship with Van Dam doesn’t end there. When you commission a boat from Van Dam, the team is available to you every day for the lifetime of ownership. Whether you call with a maintenance question, drop your boat off for seasonal TLC, or find you would like to freshen up the design, we value the chance to reconnect with you and hear all about your adventures, nautical or otherwise. At Van Dam, building boats also means we are expanding our family.

Ben and boat owner together
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