Born in 1948 on the shores of the Alkmaardermeer (Lake Alkmaar) in the village Akersloot at the Northwestern part of the Netherlands, Simon Koppes was as a child already familiar with ships in general and sailing boats on the lake. The Alkmaardermeer is part of the ships route between Amsterdam and the navy harbor Den Helder.
Each summer the lake was crowded with sailing boats, when series of regattas with various types of boats were held. Contrary to this summer hustle, in winter the lake was deserted and sometimes serene, but when the lake froze, which happened only in the winters of 1954 and 1963, again a crowd gathered on the lake, these times for skating and icesailing.
After his study and tour of duty in the military he in 1972 started a career at the large Dutch electronic firm Philips. Shortly thereafter he became acquainted with Elly Bakker, with whom he married in 1977. They bought a house in Wognum near the picturesque town of Hoorn with its beautiful harbor.
In the Middle Ages Hoorn was part of the Hanseatic League a commercial confederation of cities along the coast of Northern Europe from Holland to the Baltic. Already a trading city Hoorn became one of the chambers of the VOC (Dutch East India Company) the first company with businessman shareholders in the world. After 1800 the trade declined and Hoorn became a fisherman city.
Nowadays, although no longer at open sea, Hoorn has still a touristic harbor with yachts and historical vessels.
Three years later he transferred to a job in The Haque. The couple with their first born son moved to the suburb Waddinxveen, which is partly located in the Zuidplaspolder the lowest part (6,76 meter or 22,18 feet below see level) of Holland and Europe. Their three sons (two born in Waddinxveen) were raised there.
In 1953, when the Southwestern parts of Holland were flooded, the Zuidplaspolder and therefore Waddinxveen escaped the disaster. When the dyke along the river Hollandse IJssel broke and seawater was flooding into the deep polder, a rivership was navigated into the hole in the dyke.
With this heroic action of captain Arie Evegroen the center of Holland and many lives were saved.
In 1994 the family moved again, due to the fact that Simon accepted a job at the Dutch headquarter of Philips in Eindhoven in the Southeastern part of the Netherlands. They bought a house in the nearby town of Helmond, safely located at 10,5 meters or 34 feet above see level.
While trade is concentrated in Amsterdam and transport in Rotterdam, the two towns Eindhoven and Helmond and the surrounding villages are the industrial heart of the country. The industrial revolution of the area started when the construction of the Zuid-Willemsvaart (South Willem's Canal) between 's-Hertogenbosch and Maastricht was finished in 1823. The canal connected the town of Helmond with the river Meuse. Today high-tech industry is concentrated in the region with among others companies like Philips, ASML, DAF, VDL, APTS and FEI company.
Retired in 2002, he became active in volunteering activities for the local community. As a child Simon was gifted with a painting and drawing talent. From time to time he did some drawing and painting. Experimenting with various techniques like watercolor and oil, pencil and charcoal but also with computer aided art. But a busy job with lots of (international) traveling, working late and in the weekends did not left much spare time.
Now free of the daily business pressure, he took up this habit and developed an interest in painting large sailing ships, inspired by Sail Amsterdam in 2005/2010. This interest eventually resulting in the ship catalog presented at this site.
Simon Koppes and his wife Elly are still living in Helmond, their three sons have left the house.
Alkmaardermeer: nl.wikipedia.org/wiki/Alkmaardermeer (only in Dutch)