Erik Groenenberg, a BVI Shipwright who was born in the Netherlands, hails from a family that supplied both sailing and artistic genes. His father André was a marine engineer, his mother Betty was a fashion designer, and Erik grew up on his father’s homebuilt 21’ wooden sloop in Holland on which the family sailed during vacations and on weekends. As a builder, André had tools everywhere and Erik, the only son, grew up helping him in his shop. Erik provided maintenance on the family sloop and assisted his father for several years in rebuilding a home in style with its surrounding land-marked town.
After attending public schools, Erik went to Middle Technical School (MTS) for a four year university program in boat building, design, and boatyard management, where he specialized as a shipwright. He then worked for four+ years rebuilding a replica of the Batavia, a 1620 VOC 68 meter ship, which was used historically by the East Indian Company for trading. The project took a decade to complete.
He then worked for a boatyard in Zealand, a southwest province of Holland, where he was a shipwright. When Boat building in Holland went into a lull, Erik switched professions and spent the next three years as a finish carpenter/plumber and installer in the housing industry. When boat building resumed, he spent several years building mega yacht interiors for Ruiter Interiors, for some of the major shipyards in Europe and one of the top companies, in this genre, in the world. He worked on such famous yachts as Aphrodite II and Sapphire. During this time Erik also had his own company in Amsterdam where he designed and built custom interiors for exclusive apartments.
Erik moved to the BVI in 1999 when he was asked to help manage The Woodshop at Baugers Bay. In 2002 he bought his own company with his wife Sheryl Horing, a professional sailor and Tall Ship Captain. Their company E&S Yacht Maintenance (email@example.com) is located in Nanny Cay Marina and specializes in interiors and exteriors for private, charter and mega yachts.
Recently Erik had the opportunity to show his full artistic talent when he was hired to make a new forward salon floor with an inlaid Compass Rose on board Canim, a Ted Geary Designed 1929 classic cruiser. “Although I have spent many years as a shipwright designing and building, crafting the Compass Rose was one of my more challenging projects. It took more than 40 hours and five different types of wood before I had the Compass Rose designed and built the way that I had seen it in my mind’s eye. In this case I really appreciate the freedom that Canim’s owners gave me artistically and they were delighted with the results.” When I interviewed Erik for this article, we met on Canim and I can certainly see why the project met with such high approval. It is truly a work of art, something not often found in today’s mass-produced market.
“Most of my designs, which I have crafted in wood, are in interior yacht furniture,” Erik says. “I travel to Puerto Rico to find woods that match to a specific interior that I am working on. I have redesigned interiors for yachts such as Hinckley’s, updating and changing nav station layouts, galleys and building custom furniture. It is very important to me that the product I produce not only matches, but is superior, to the original. Although I am a boat owner, racer, sailor, etcetera, I feel that the challenge of yacht interiors, which are always unique to the vessel, require an artist’s eye for aesthetics and line.” In looking through Erik’s portfolio, I certainly acknowledge the artistic sense and the professionalism of his skills – Erik’s Compass Rose is a joy to behold.
Nancy Terrell is a freelance writer who has lived in the Caribbean for 21 years. She holds an MA Degree in Literature and is currently cruising on her trawler, Swan Song, throughout the Caribbean.