Happy New Year everybody! I wish you all: health and happiness.
Last year’s new year’s resolution, was to start a blog and share with you my thoughts and experiences in dredging. As you are reading this, I succeeded so far. I really hope you enjoy these little stories on my professional interests and by now have already bookmarked my site to your favourites.
Last year we had the CEDA Dredging Days1 as a starter and continuing story arc for a couple of blog posts. Now I will probably only update you on the progress of the Dredging Management Commission, I am participating in2. Any other current events that will happen will also be covered as they come along. One big project worth covering will be the ¡VAMOS! project3. It will have its final tests and the total conclusion of the project. So, there will be some reports on that. We have several students working on interesting projects that will be highlighted on a case by case basis.
A real cornucopia of dredging related topics is our own Damen Dredging Experience4. Here in Nijkerk, we have a small museum with exhibits that explain the processes of dredging in a very tangible way. They are very suitable to fill in the gaps between the other stories.
I think, that with all the ideas I already have on the shelf, the ‘Chapters page’ of this website will nicely fill out and start to become the reference page I intended it to be.
The first stories that are on the shelf, are about my last year’s holiday. In our Christmas break, besides reading other author’s books (Did you also?), we were compiling our own picture book about our summer holiday in the United States. Sorry, I am a passionate dredger and even on my holiday I had some observations and experiences about dredging that I want to share with you also.
This year is coming to an end. Two weeks of holiday for me. My favourite pastime is reading. So, I thought to recommend you something to read on your holiday, also. Mmh, what kind of book should I suggest? It should be entertaining, maybe educating and for all: about dredging. And the first book that springs to my mind is ‘Mannen van Sliedrecht’ by the author K. Norel.
Jan Baan is the hero of the book. As a young, intelligent and energetic boy, he is withdrawn from school, to earn some money digging peat in the Biesbosch. There he uses his intellect to organise his work and improve the equipment. From there, he works his way up through a brilliant career, ending as one of the most influential captains of dredging industry. Although Jan Baan is the protagonist, the story unfolds through the life of Dirk Punt. He is the average really hard working crewmember on the dredges. No frills, no aspiration, only loyal, honest maybe even devout and modest. Sliedrecht had thousands of those men in their workforce and in combination with the innovations by people like Jan Baan, Sliedrecht became the biggest village in the world.
Whereas Dirk Punt is modelled after a non-descript Anybody, Jan Baan is mainly based on the historical person Adriaan Volker1. He really was an innovative engineer, threading new paths in the dredging business and managing his people effectively. He became the founder of one of those big dredging companies from Sliedrecht, eventually incorporated in Koninklijke Volker Wessels Stevin2.
K. Norel was not the first to write about this subject. Herman de Man started out to collect data by interviewing people that were part of that era. Alas, the second World War came along and all the collected documents were lost and Herman de Man had other priorities after losing his family. K. Norel took over and had to start from scratch again3. So, even the story behind the book is interesting. It is out of print, but over the course of time, had several reprints. You will find it in most second hand book stores and markets. You will even find copies online4.
I do have my own copy, but am reluctant to lend it out, as I am very attached to it. It was handed to me personally by my grandmother. As a twelve year old girl, she was the nanny at the Volker family to take care of Adriaan’s descendants in the mansion that is now the National Dredging Museum. She received this picture for her services. So, there you have it: my personal connection to one of my hero’s in the dredging industry.
Happy reading! Enjoy your holiday. Best wishes for the new year.
Did you ever visit your home town? How many of you have been living in the same place, without even going to the local attractions that are advertised to lure tourists to your own city? I know I didn’t. I was brought up in a beautiful medieval city and never went into the city center to gaze at all the beautiful things that are there. Years later, I visited my city during a conference and we had a guided tour there in our program. That afternoon I discovered my own hometown again.
As our local expert in the dredging division, I took my colleagues on tours through the wonderful world of dredging. Most of them already well seasoned in dredging engineering, but sometimes unaware of hidden treasures of special knowledge that make dredges really work or how elegant some dredging solutions are executed. Helping them discover those details really helped them relate to the particular problem they were working on.
There are several ways to guide people through the intricacies of geophysics, fluid dynamics, and material sciences that are all part of dredging knowledge. I have been giving internal courses, writing academic papers, lectures. But also a lot of knowledge transfer happens in working groups, committees and at the coffee machine. I know even have a dredging experience center at my disposal to demonstrate those special phenomena hands on.
As our company expanded and we were also cooperating more with other divisions, the number of people that can be reached by these roads is limited. I started a journal of my discoveries through dredging, but this was not working well enough. Hence we were contemplating extending my reach by using the internet. So, my employer persuaded me to share my personal professional experiences with a wider audience. Both accessible to my colleagues and our customers alike.
Cue this website. This will be a platform to show you parts of dredging knowledge that you might be familiar with, but will be interesting to be discovered in a new perspective. You will find here explanations on geophysics, fluid dynamics and material sciences. But also hidden features of common dredging equipment. And some perspective on historical episodes, current events and future trends. Maybe even some personal touches or my own opinion.
I hope you will enjoy my stories and share them with anybody who has the same passion for dredging like you and me.