Yacht & Coast

Days of Yore

Blockmaker caters to a bygone era

March 27, 2014 by robert in Days of Yore, NL Excel, Sail with 0 Comments

ALMERE _ Soon after the Sultanate of Oman ordered an 86m navy Clipper (above) from the Netherlands’ Damen Shipyards, Jaap Ording got busy. “We are filling an order right now for 800 Lloyds-tested blocks for that ship,” says Ording. His company, Ording Blockmakers, is also working on 400 blocks for the US Tall Ship Oliver Hazard Perry, launched in 2013, and exploring new ways to improve its blocks and bindings.

Ording makes handcrafted wooden blocks and bindings for masts, gaffs and spars. Only 8 years ago, his company made 500 to 600 blocks a year. That has since doubled.

“There are still people with an unusual love for classic wooden ships. They maintain them lovingly, sail them fanatically. There are not just privately-owned ships. They include vessels that provide charter skippers with a livelihood. Some are over 100 years old. And others were recently launched.”

To meet rising demand, Ording is exploring new block-making techniques, including flat-pressed bindings and closed-axle blocks to handle more weight without increasing the size of blocks.

“Most people want smaller blocks,” says Ording. “That is doable from the point of view of the ropes that you run through them. Dyneema and other high-tech fibers let you use much thinner ropes. But the weight on the blocks and their bindings is not getting any less.”

Ording has worked on all the boats of the Pirates of the Caribbean movies. And their models. The Omani training Clipper is a Dykstra Naval Architects design. After the ‘Stad Amsterdam’ and ‘Cisne Branco,’ Dykstra and Damen Shipyards developed a new version. The 86m vessel is to be delivered in the summer of 2014. It will be a training ship for the Omani navy, and a serious competitor in today’s fleet of Tall Ships. It can accommodate 94 _ permanent crew and trainees.

Ording Blockmakers was founded in the 1970s by Jaap Ording’s father who searched fruitlessly for a wooden block for his own boat. Soon George Ording landed in the block-making business. Today it makes a dozen types of mostly Elmwood blocks with bronze, stainless steel or aluminum-bronze sheaves. These days, Ording’s pelican trademark goes on fine yachts everywhere. Like the HMCS Oriole, the Canadian Navy’s 31m-training ketch; the charter schooners Germania Nova, Oosterschelde and Noelani; the bark Europa; the Amsterdam, the Amistad and the Virginia.


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