Ship's Chandlery is a growing business on the southern Dutch Caribbean islands. Some years ago boat owners in Curaçao, however, had a hard job finding parts and accessories for their precious possessions until 2004, when Dutch-born Bas Reijntjes came to the island, jumping into the open space in the market as Budget Marine's branch manager.
In 2009, the time was right for starting his own business. In the busy ABC Marine office at the Caracasbaaiweg, Reijntjes tells his unconventional life story. "Born in Hilversum in the 1950s, I became acquainted with boats at the 'Loosdrecht Lakes,' a cluster of beautiful lakes near my hometown and hotspot for the well-to-do with several yachting clubs lining the shore. My father owned a boat and at the age of ten I was allowed to go out boating on my own in a little dinghy called 'Bon Bini Chikitu.' I was young and a bit against the grain. It may be obvious that the boat owners didn't like my style. My sailing was quite different!"
When he was 18, Reijntjes' family moved to Curaçao for two years, giving young Bas a passion for the tropics that lasted after they returned to the Netherlands.
"Back in Holland I had to act more seriously which I tried to apply in practice during my job for the Royal Dutch Airline KLM. Being a station manager I also got deployed in Arusha in Africa. Thus I went back to the tropics where I was filled with nostalgia for the days in Curaçao and its crystal clear blue sea. From Arusha I often drove a few hundred miles to the Indian Ocean to dream away about owning a company providing tropical sunset dinner cruises for tourists.
"After finishing a job for Swiss Air, I came to St. Maarten and at the age of 43, I made that dream come true on board the Lagun Princess in Simpson Bay. But blood will tell. Soon I found out that the island was too small for my ambitions and when I heard that Robbie Ferron was looking for someone to set up a Budget Marine branch on the Leeward island, I didn't hesitate a moment.
"From 2004 through 2009, I gained a lot of experience in the business … but also realized that in the year 2009, it was the time to sail in my own direction and dedicate all my energy to ABC Boats N.V. with the assistance of Ismael Gonçalves, who chose to join forces with me."
ABC Boats lives up to the company's phrase: we can help you find or sell your boat! They are dealer for a number of brands like Tiara, Sea Chaser and Apex Dinghies, and closely work together with the local Yamaha dealer. ABC Marine takes care of the parts, accessories and outboards at competitive prices. Both companies present themselves as small businesses with a lot of experience in the field and no pretension to grow big. They rather maintain and consolidate service and prices by adding new products and services like the Brazilian brand Holt Nautus for sail control and rigging parts.
Reijntjes and Gonçalves started their new business in November 2009 and already, thanks to a striking advertising campaign on the local radio stations and in newspapers and magazines, the new chandlery is well known on the island and elsewhere. Plans are in the making for new branches in Bonaire and Aruba, hence suiting the names ABC Marine and ABC Boats. For more information: www.abcboatsnv.com
Els Kroon is a Dutch former teacher who now lives and works as an award-winning free-lance photojournalist on Curaçao.