The Love Boat and The Bridge

If you thought I was about to start discussing that vintage American TV series called “The Love Boat” and the modern Danish-Swedish police series titled “The Bridge”, I have to disappoint you. Because I am throwing in an entire river and a big chunk of South America too. Sort of.


“What are your thoughts on that bridge in Rotterdam needing to be dismantled so that the yacht built for Jeff Bezos can pass through?” a friend of mine e-mailed me from the US yesterday.

The yacht is 127 meters long and being constructed by an Oman-owned Dutch shipyard in Alblasserdam. It happens quite often that these huge ships squeeze through with literally only inches to spare on their way from a Dutch shipyard to the saltwater realm.

If I recall correctly, the Holland – America Line had it happen to its 7th rendition of the “Rotterdam” last year. (Or was it the Maasdam? I think HAL has replaced four of these ships?)

Last week, I read about one that needed to traverse the country from the south to the north (not going to Rotterdam but to Harlingen):

What I have dubbed “The Love Boat” – as “bezos” is Spanish for “kisses” – is not only long, it is also very tall. On its way from Alblasserdam to the big wide watery world it has to pass a bridge that is not high enough for The Love Boat to squeeze through under it.

That bridge dates back to 1878. It used to be a swing bridge but it got damaged too often and was converted into a lift bridge. It is an official “monument” these days (heritage status). It has withstood WWII bombings and carried trains until roughly the mid 1990s.

The Love Boat needs more than the bridge’s 40 meters. The Dutch intend to dismantle the bridge and then put it together again, even though after a major restoration in 2017, they had made the decision never to dismantle it again.

But well, it’s Bezos… and his fancy three-master may lead to more fancy three-masters being ordered. The Love Boat retails at half a billion euros.

The shipyard and Bezos will pay for the operation and will carefully put everything back together again, they’ve said.

Today, the Dutch Financial Times, which I used to deliver when I was a student, had a spicy piece on the matter. Its author – Han Dirk Hekking – pointed out that not just the The Bridge, but The Love Boat too is a monument, an ode to ingenious tax specialists that keep Amazon from having to pay sales tax in various States, to the ruthless abuse of staff including the firing of those whose breaks are not considered quite short enough to be able to squeeze through Amazon’s business operations and to lots more, none of it particularly positive.

The author also noted that Bezos’ personal fortune shrank to the tune of 24 of these three-masters on Thursday, but adds that, hey, it’s just the markets.

Blame Facebook, excuse me, Meta. Jeff and Mark will have it recouped in no time. Zukerberg lost 29 billion or thereabouts on that day, Bezos a little less. 12 billion.

The sarcastic article ends with the wish that Bezos hopefully won’t want the Dutch island of Texel next to launch rockets into space from. Because, hey, it’s Bezos.

Lees het volledige artikel:

Rotterdam’s mayor Aboutaleb – who happens to be in Colombia at the moment, a surprise twist that creates an indirect connection to the Amazon in this story – apparently added his bit to the news mix too last night and appears to have indicated that the dismantling of the bridge is not a done deal yet for Mr Bezos. But that may have to do with the fact that in contradiction to earlier news, the application for the required permit to dismantle the bridge has not yet been received by the City of Rotterdam.

This Dutch article in newspaper AD informs me that the news has made headlines around the world. A few days ago, I happened to decide to stop checking the news all the time as it tends to put me in a grouchy and depressed mood, so I had missed the commotion until my friend e-mailed me.

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