Tideman Boats Are Basically "Unsinkable" Milk Jugs With Motors and Low Carbon Footprints

There I was, watching a movie, and before I knew it, I was staring at a scene where I didn't understand what was happening. I was so intrigued about seeing the acronym HDPE on a boat that I paused the flick and started searching for answers.
Tideman Boat 9 photos
Photo: Tideman Boats
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In this way, I ran across a crew dubbed Tideman Boats. If this name sounds familiar to you, you probably have a job working at some dockyard, pulling in a massive superyacht, assisting in directing the flow of vessels, and/or being responsible for carrying crew members to and from work sites, a proper tender, as they say. This is a short story of a manufacturer that sought to do things differently and succeeded in the process.

This story began in Holland in 2006, the year Tideman Boats could be seen on the market for the first time, well, the modern version, anyway. In truth, the name Tideman has been a staple of shipbuilding in the Netherlands since 1854. Yet, there's little information on what happened to the original company. Nonetheless, this name is back.

What makes these vessels so unique is precisely why I paused the movie I was watching; they're built out of High-Density Polyethylene, or HDPE, as it's known to most of us. Oh, and if you're wondering where you've seen this acronym before, just check out the bottom of your plastic cola bottle, milk jug, or water cup.

Tideman HDPE Boat
Photo: Tideman Boats
What is the result of building boats out of HDPE? Nothing more than the essence of this article: indestructible yet recyclable vessels with which we can go about day-to-day business. If we consider that Tideman allows you to customize your future craft based on size and requirements, you can even create a motorized 'milk jug' that suits your particular needs, even if it means cruising on a lake on Sunday morning. Sure, this isn't their innate purpose, but you can do whatever the heck you want, considering you can drop well over $200,000 on one of these buggers.

Why build boats like these out of such a material? Well, I already mentioned that these buggers come across as indestructible, but most importantly, in researching more on HDPE, I learned that 1 kilogram (2.2 pounds) of this plastic leaves a carbon footprint of 3.11 kilograms (6.85 pounds). To put things into perspective, that paper bag you received your lunch in requires 5.5 kilograms (12.2 pounds) of CO2 to produce. Oh, and single-use plastic bags need 1.58 kilograms (3.5 pounds) of carbon to be manufactured. All those numbers are according to co2everything, and this sort of information should give you an idea why our society is shaped as it is.

As I explored more of how these boats are designed to serve all sorts of situations, I ran across a configurator, and curious as I am, I embarked upon a journey of creating my own "unsinkable" craft. Because I wanted speed to be a part of my experience, I chose to select an RBB 1100 tender used for patrol and intercepting pirates or any other evildoers.

Tideman HDPE Boat
Photo: Tideman Boats
It's here that I can unlock 48 knots (55 mph) of max speed, offered by up to engines with outboard propulsion and a payload of 1,500 kilograms (3,306 pounds). Best of all, this sucker only weighs 3,400 kilograms (7,495 pounds), making it easily maneuverable on dry land even though it comes in with a length of 10.7 meters (35 feet) and a beam of 3 meters (9.8 feet). The draft sits at a mere 0.5 meters (1.6 feet), so there's no place you can't go with this craft. Once I was done adding things like 10 seats, GPS, night vision, and countless other gear to my boat, I was looking at a trinket priced at a tad under $300K (€305K at current exchange rates).

Heck, when I started writing this article, I thought I was researching nothing more than some boats made of plastic. Boy, was I wrong! At the end of the day, I understood why a manufacturer like Tideman would ever use HDPE to build craft designed to be a sort of workhorse of the seas. It's light, strong, and requires 5,372 kilograms (11,843 pounds) of CO2 to build a 3,400-kilogram plastic hull. Luckily this stuff can be recycled.

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Editor's note: Images in the gallery showcase an array of custom Tideman craft.

About the author: Cristian Curmei
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A bit of a nomad at heart (being born in Europe and raised in several places in the USA), Cristian is enamored with travel trailers, campers and bikes. He also tests and writes about urban means of transportation like scooters, mopeds and e-bikes (when he's not busy hosting our video stories and guides).
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