Frisian Tjotter — What Is It?


(Photos courtesy

I must confess that until loyal reader Erwin van Doeselaar sent me an email last week, I didn’t know what a Tjotter was/is.  I had seen models and paintings of them in the Amsterdam Maritime Museum, and perhaps one or two in the water without knowing what they were.  Now I know, and I will impart to you what little I know about them.

But a word of caution first, please:  I use Chrome as my browser, and it has done the translation from Dutch.  I’m afraid it’s occasionally hilarious, and no doubt not strictly what the Dutch author meant.  Here, verbatim, from two of their web pages:

What is a tjotter?

A tjotter is an authentic Frisian sail boat totaling about 6 meters in length. They have very little depth, making them ideally suited for the Frisian water. Over a century ago, the tjotter work boat of the fisherman, the farmer and the retailer in Friesland. Later there arose also ‘luxury’ tjotters which also matches were dangers. Our fleet is built entirely of oak. The boats are over the centuries formed by the water in which they sail. Thus, the mast easy to iron for the many bridges. They have no keel but retractable leeboards, what makes you the many shallow waters in Friesland from the feet can: tjotter with you anywhere. They perform with a gaff mainsail and a jib. In small Vaartjes they are easy to trees or withdraw survival (hunting). Friesland There is considerable competition dangers tjotters. As a rule, with skipper and fokkenist, but severe weather is going to a third party who submits to windward on the sword clout. The name ‘sticker’ says enough. About tjotters is an excellent book published: tjotters and boatsjes by dr ir Vermeer (Hedeby Publishing, Leeuwarden © 1997 ISBN 90-74541-09-7).”

“History of tjottervloot

Behind a dike of Eilân in Heeg It was in the twenties of the last century a repository for dredging. In 1935 a real villa built in this unique location. Less than a year after that there are already four tjotters built by Wildschut from Gaastmeer. The house is available for holiday camps led by Reverend Schothorst. Until the outbreak of World War II was the youth of wealthy families rightly. During the war, the place is named ‘Joyful Wending “and is used for the Hitler Youth. During the postwar period is the couple Piersma on the scene. They change the name to “It Beaken” (Beacon) and under their inspiring leadership is from extremely primitive conditions pounded a thriving sailing school / hostel from the ground. With the sailing school is also growing fleet. To all guests sailing to places come three existing tjotters at. Later Heit order even at four new Berend de Jong in Heeg. If Heit and Mem Piersma in 1977 say goodbye to their life’s work, they carry their own three boats on the NJHC. In the course of more than 20 years, the couple a great crowd round and flat-bottomed sailors not only sailing, but also the love for tjotters taught. Ships came and went, growing interest in sailing in tjotters. Sailing Instructors have always quite the rolled up their sleeves. After the departure of the couple Piersma of the inn is the care of the fleet in the hands of John Sanders and (slightly later) Rob van Roessel. John led the hostel and Rob the sailing school. On their departure, years later, the concern for the sailing area and the fleet transferred to the hostel. late eighties are 4 tjotters however so badly that they need to be replaced. Three Frisian timber yards are instructed to build. Tjotter a The steel Brüser gets a new riveted hull with the exact same dimensions as the old. It goes without saying the bulwark, behind the house and the mast bench transferred. On May 9, 1987 It takes four Beaken tjotters festive in use: the Brüser, the Wearlamke, the Hoannemosk and Wink. On the same day also The Friends of the Tjottervloot established with the purpose besides the friendship also retain.’s Tjotters Such classic fleet has a lot of maintenance and the members of the association have a lot of work. Initially it seemed that this was the leak up, but after some time the alarm sounds again. The maintenance of the ships came into question and it became clear that this was not meant to last long. The NJHC gave in 1994 also stated that they saw little future for more tjotters within the organization then clear. The Frisian Tjottervloot Foundation was founded in 1996 with the aim to keep as a sailing monument. Fleet in Heeg in position Chaired by Rienk Wegener Schleswig contacts were made ​​with sponsors. And contributions from the Piersma Fund and other lenders have to implement a good maintenance possible. NJHC indicates the end of 2008 (now StayOkay) that they actually do not see Emplooi for the fleet. The board chaired by former instructor Eric Hottentot is a striking shelter at the Classic Boat Harbour in Terherne, from which they rented. Sailors with experience and interest may join the Foundation or simply rent a boat. As (sailing) donor The Board of the Foundation Frisian Tjottervloot is very busy trying to get a new one. accommodation for tjotters In the aftermath of the municipality Wymbritseradiel has already committed funds for the construction of a boathouse. Meanwhile Wymbritseradiel absorbed in the great congregation Súdwest-Friesland and we have confirmation that the commitments made ​​in the past are taken. By the new municipality Under the name Marlan It Heeg we have joined forces with the Watersportvereniging Heeg (WSH), Foundation Water Heeg Heeg and Local Interest. The four of us have made ​​a bid book containing the wishes. The Foundation Frisian Tjottervloot wants with the three other parties achieve a boathouse for tjotters a beautiful classroom, a good space from which tjotters can be rented, and a good mooring for tjotters and boats in the harbor of the WSH. By working together we can make the probability of the realization of our plans bigger. ‘s fleet is at present again in sparkling condition. The story of this fleet is thus therefore still far off. For more information about the history of It Beaken see also Van Eilân for more -60 years Stayokay Heeg / Sailing It Beaken-© 2006 Stayokay Heeg / sailing It Beaken ISBN 908 112 031 X.”


I wish I could tell you how many of them there still are.  I will ask Erwin, who has also been kind enough to offer to take us sailing.

For more complete information, please see the website:

So, what do YOU know about Tjotters?  Oh, and speaking about the Netherlands, if you will be in Amsterdam on November 18th of this year, you will want to attend the Pecha Kucha event being produced by Vripack.  There is no cost to attend, and it is an amazingly good and inspirational time.  For more information, go here:

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One Response to Frisian Tjotter — What Is It?

  1. Look at to see some of these trotters sailing at Morbihan (France) during Le Semaine du Golfe (the week of the golf) last may.
    Boats of 4,8 x 2,4m are the most extreme trotters called Fjoar-Acht, (four-eight)

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