Up until the late 1960s, Bruinisse thrived on its fishing industry. Mussels and oysters were its lifeblood. But the people of Zeeland faced a major challenge. The Oosterschelde estuary was going to be dammed. This was to herald the end of its fishing industry. Naturally, this was of great concern to Bruinisse. What would the future hold?
The Dutch Ministry of Economic Affairs compensated the village by creating a marina as a new source of income. A project development company quickly built the Aquadelta bungalow park and the Grevelingenhout golf course. This caused quite a stir among Bruinisse's religious population, as it disrupted the sabbath. Over time, they became accustomed to this and they discovered that the leisure industry also brought a touch of excitement, welcome income and a dash of high spirits. So gradually, Bruinisse transformed from a fishing village into a popular destination for tourists and visitors.
The marina was initially bought by the Dreesman family (owners of a large Dutch chain of department stores, Vroom & Dreesman), then Paul Hameeteman (NovaYachting) and ultimately Jan Willem den Daas. Den Daas was a brick manufacturer, but had just diversified into the leisure and recreation industry under the name Den Daas Recreatie. By this time, the marina was already becoming outdated, but Den Daas saw its potential and completed the purchase in 1998.
Both Hameeteman and Den Daas had had plans to relocate and renovate the marina. Everyone was enthusiastic, but getting building permission proved to be quite a challenge. The marina was situated on the border between the provinces of South Holland and Zeeland. It took thirteen years before they could break ground... But their enthusiasm could not be dampened and by 2008 work was fully underway. Sustainability and durability formed the focus of their efforts – thermal energy storage (TES) systems, grey water recycling, solar panels and 100% recyclable jetties. No expense was spared where saving the environment was concerned. A local resident, Henkie the Harbour Porpoise, now swims around the marina, as do rare black-necked grebes.
Every conceivable facility and amenity for in, on and under your boat was built around the central square. Not to mention the new children's swimming pool, restaurant and supermarket. The bricks used extensively throughout the construction are a tribute to the past and in particular to the since deceased Jan Willem den Daas.
Bruinisse Marina is one of four sustainable, full-service marinas belonging to the Thuishaven group and is operated by Den Daas Recreatie, the parent company in Elst. Whereas the Thuishaven group's focus is on water sports, Den Daas actually has its roots in the brick-making industry. Den Daas Recreatie's owners grew up right next door to their brick factory with the smell of hot sand in the air.Even today, their passion and love for bricks, entrepreneurship and nature permeates every aspect of the way they run their business.