The AVONTUUR is a two masted gaff rigged schooner which was built in 1920 by Otto Smit in Stadskanaal, Netherlands. Until 2005 she was used as a sailing cargo vessel, most recently by Dutch Captain Paul Wahlen. He sailed cargo between the North Sea, Baltic, North Atlantic and across to Caribbean ports where she was widely regarded as one of the last true cargo sailing ships of the twentieth century.

After years serving as a day passenger ship along the Dutch coast and West Friesian islands the AVONTUUR became the foundation of the Timbercoast community in autumn 2014.



April 1920
Birth of the AVONTUUR

The two masted steel schooner is built by Otto Smith in two and a half years at Stadskanaal, Groningen, Netherlands as cargo sailing vessel. It weighs 195 tonnes and is able to carry around 280 cubic meters of bagged cargo. Its first owner, captain J. Wegener uses it for inland and coastal shipping, for example to transport cardboard paper from the Netherlands to London.

January 1923
A New Owner

At the age of 27, Pieter de Wit buys the AVONTUUR for 14.000 guilder (ca. € 84.000,- nowadays) and becomes skipper like his father Adriaan before him. Pieter renames the schooner after his German-born wife Catharina (in the picture with her little daugther Grietje Johanna). 

March 1923
Pieter de Wit and his family aboard the Catharina

"Eemsbode, 03.03.1923: The schoonership 'Catharina' captain Pieter de Wit left here today loaded with turnip greens and bound for Svendborg."

In addition to Captain de Wit and his family, the crew on board the Catharina includes a bosun, a cook and a deckhand.

November 1923
Catharina Stranded!

In a heavy storm off the Eastern coast of Denmark, the Catharina, carrying 150 tonnes of limestone as fertiliser, runs aground. Water penetrates the stern of the ship. His family - including his 4-month-old daughter - and the crew are rescued, but the cargo is lost. The Catharina is subsequently fitted with an engine and is managed by Egbert Wagenborg from 1925.

Catharina becomes SPES

Klaas Pronk buys the cargo sailing vessel in 1932 from Pieter de Wit and gives it the name SPES, which is the Latin word for hope. But even under this name, the ship is left with "little hope": in 1937, the SPES is stranded a second time off the Swedish coast. After being salvaged, John S. Andersson takes over the schooner and brings it under the Swedish flag. During the late 50s and early 60s the ship’s rig is reduced in several steps and finally removed completely.
She then sails as a coastal motor ship.

A New Chapter

In 1977, new owner and Captain Paul Whalen overtakes the ship and gives it back her first name AVONTUUR.

He sails cargo on the AVONTUUR from 1977 to 2005. Under the Dutch captain, the boat becomes one of the last sailing freight ships in the Caribbean.