Great moments in yacht design

I am puzzled by this news report that says that Dutch authorities in the city of Rotterdam are considering temporarily dismantling a bridge in order to allow the yacht commissioned by Jeff Bezos to reach open water.

A plan to temporarily dismantle a recently restored historic bridge in the heart of Dutch port city Rotterdam so that a huge yacht, reportedly being built for Amazon founder Jeff Bezos, can get to the North Sea is unlikely to be plain sailing.

Reports this week that the city had already agreed to take apart the Koningshaven Bridge, known locally as De Hef, sparked anger with one Facebook event set up calling for people to pelt the multimillion dollar yacht with rotten eggs.

However, a spokeswoman for Mayor Ahmed Aboutaleb told The Associated Press on Friday that while a request has been submitted by a shipbuilder for the bridge to temporarily be taken apart over the summer, no permit has yet been sought or granted.

The current Hef railway bridge was opened for trains to cross the Maas River in 1927 and taken out of service in 1993 when it was replaced by a tunnel. Public protests spared it from demolition and it eventually underwent a three-year renovation that ended in 2017. The middle section of the bridge can be raised to allow ships to pass underneath, but apparently not high enough for the new yacht’s masts.

What puzzles me is that the builders did not take into account the height of the bridges that they had to pass under to get to open waters when they designed and built the yacht.

Here’s an idea. Rather than raise the bridge, why not lower the yacht as it passes under? How hard can that be? Why not put it in a bottle, cork the bottle, and then push it under water as it goes under the bridge. If Bezos has the resources to build rockets so that he can fly into space for a few minutes, surely he can waste money on this engineering challenge? It would be a lot more fun to watch too.

The thought of Bezos spending a huge amount of money on this latest vanity project and then having it stuck permanently in a dockyard and not able to reach the open ocean will undoubtedly inspire delicious feelings of schadenfreude among many people. I know it will for me. But given the amount of money that Bezos can waste, I expect that he will eventually pay enough to the Dutch authorities to overcome objections and get the bridge dismantled. The rich tend to be able to get their way.


  1. says

    Heh. Probably the builders thought, “Hey, it’s Bezos. Of course the city will do as he wants.” 🙁

    I wish the article had said just how over-tall the yacht is. And can’t they dismantle the top of the ship and then re-install it on the other side just as easily as messing with the bridge?

    Oh, wait. I found another article. The yacht has 3 229-foot masts. The height under the bridge is 131 feet. But yeah, remove the masts, ship them through separately, and put them back up on the other side.

  2. Pierce R. Butler says

    xohjoh2n @ # 2: … a flock of swallows to carry it …

    Why bother the poor birds? Doesn’t Bezos’s company have a handy little fleet of delivery drones?

  3. JM says

    To add to the fun of this mess, the ship is so tall because it will have masts and sails. Sails means that there isn’t space for a helipad. So Bezos will have a second (smaller but still huge) yacht that will shadow the main one so that he will always have a helipad handy.

    It isn’t clear from the articles I saw what the timeline for all of this actually is. The bridge in question was recently rebuilt and it’s possible that this ship was started before that. So it may be the case that the ships could have sailed originally and only the recent work made it impossible. If that is the case then I’m fine with letting the ship out at the cost to the city. If they built the ship knowing it couldn’t get out without the bridge being partially moved or part of the ship being rebuilt then the city should be charging them all of the costs for the bridge work plus some charge for the inconvenience involved (such as redirecting traffic) plus some penalty on top of that.

  4. says

    Bozo can dismantle the boat if he wants to get it out.

    Don’t raise the bridge. Don’t allow helicopters because it’s noisy and polluting. And give him 90 days of it gets confiscated.

  5. Mano Singham says

    JM @#5,

    The bridge rebuild was completed in 2017. I cannot imagine that the yacht was started before that.

  6. Who Cares says

    @ Mano Singham(#8):
    The bridge itself was basically the first large structure in the city rebuild after WW2 to re-enable train traffic.
    What was finished in 2017 was the restoration of the bridge that was started in 2014.
    Since they removed the central section to have it checked and fixed in a more accessible way during the restoration, removal of this section will not be considered impossible. The problem is that they fixed the central section at the maximum height and removed the cables connecting it to the counterweights.

    That said this is all a tempest in a teacup. Once the formal application, instead of the notification of intent that has been issued at this moment, is approved and the costs for the temporary removal are being paid by anyone but the city of Rotterdam, that central section will be on a pontoon at the nearest mooring location while the yacht passes the bridge. Worst thing that will happen is the need to clean the yacht (eggs, paint, etc.) seeing that there will be a protest, even if the disassembly is temporary, by the same group(s) that managed to pressure the city into preserving the bridge as a monument.

  7. John Morales says

    Intransitive, what I see is a large-scale waste of perfectly good food.

    (I don’t love that; why not feces, instead?)

  8. Deepak Shetty says

    Rather than raise the bridge, why not lower the yacht as it passes under?

    Maybe Musk can also help by using his min-submarines to drag this under water ?

  9. StonedRanger says

    Mano, Im surprised that you find this puzzling at all. In this world, money talks and bullshit walks. Bezos waves ever increasing bundles of money at them til he gets his way. Or someone will wake up and tell him to take a walk. Come on, I can dream cant I?

  10. file thirteen says

    Shurely there must be another way. Can’t Beezelbub get a bunch of rockets to lift the yacht up over the bridge, orbit the earth a couple of times, and drop it exactly where he wants it?

  11. Mano Singham says


    What I said was puzzling was that the ship builders did not take the height of the bridges into account at the beginning.

  12. kenbakermn says

    It has to be easier to simply disassemble the masts, tow the boat though, and put them back on. Either that or tell Bezos sure we’ll do that for you, but you’re paying for it and the cost is $100E6.

  13. Ice Swimmer says

    kenbakermn @ 19

    And if it isn’t easy to disassemble the masts, the yacht is badly designed.

    BTW, if the masts are 70 m high, the yacht is too high for many places. These include Panama Canal (which has a 57.91 m height restriction). Then, if the exact height of the masts is actually less than 68 m, it could fit the Suez Canal. Both Panama and Suez Canals are crossed by bridges that limit the height of the vessels transiting the canals.

    Cruise ships built in Finnish dockyards have a similar problem due to Great Belt Fixed Link in the Danish straits between Baltic Sea and the Atlantic, which has a 65 m clearance below. The solution has been to build the ships with collapsible funnels (smokestacks) and masts and, if necessary, drive the ships under the bridge when sea levels are low, at full speed so that they will swim as deep as possible.

    The upside of the design of the Bozoboat if it were indeed as bad as it is made up to be is that it couldn’t enter the Baltic Sea and wouldn’t be ever seen in these shores. Apart from the Great Belt, Øresund Bridge over the Sound (between Copenhagen, Denmark and Malmö, Sweden) has a 57 m clearance below and the Little Belt Bridge (between Snoghøj on Jutland and Middelfart on Funen) has only a 34 m clearance below. Furthermore, in the Kiel Canal all bridges have a 42 m clearance below.

  14. sonofrojblake says

    the yacht is too high for many places

    Two observations:
    1. it’s a big world, and the far side of the restrictions is probably just shitholes anyway (at least in Bozo’s mind) and
    2. those places have restrictions that will keep out the world’s richest man’s yacht for as long as he’s not that bothered about going there, and not a day longer.

  15. mnb0 says

    “I am puzzled by …..”
    Why? Read

    He’s even more a lackey of the big companies than JoeB.

    “the builders did not take into account the height of the bridges ”
    Why would they with authorities like Rutte?

    “I expect that he will eventually pay enough”
    Of course. For him it’s peanuts, the costs are several 10 000s of euros.

  16. mnb0 says

    @5 JM: “The bridge in question was recently rebuilt”
    at the same height as before.

    @8 MS: ” I cannot imagine that the yacht was started before that.”
    It is irrelevant when it started. It was build in 1927, exactly as high as it is now.

    Search for Joris Ivens De Brug and you can find some real old footage.

  17. says

    Ice Swimmer@20: “BTW, if the masts are 70 m high, the yacht is too high for many places. These include Panama Canal (which has a 57.91 m height restriction).

    What’s the big deal? Bezos will just demand that they re-dig the Panama Canal.

  18. Holms says

    The Mayor of Rotterdam has denied reports that the Dutch city would dismantle the Koningshaven bridge to allow Oceanco’s 127 metre sailing yacht project to pass through.

    The news follows a report last week appearing to confirm that a portion of the bridge, known by locals as De Hef, would need to be removed to accommodate the record-breaking build as it makes its way from the shipyard to the sea. The mayor of Rotterdam, Ahmed Aboutaleb, has since made a statement denying the claims.

    According to Dutch newspaper Algemeen Dagblad, Aboutaleb said the news had been “exaggerated” and that “no decision has yet been taken, not even an application for a permit.”

    The earlier reports may have been hasty to generate sensationalism… or maybe this reporting is not to be trusted. Not sure.

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