A seaman’s Fable – November 2017

With the keel a ship gets its identity, it is the basic building block, the backbone that supports everything. It is therefore not surprising that the building of the new keel is also a special honour at MARABU. The first new piece of restoration is created from the best African sipo mahogany.
Solid, resistant to weathering and heavy is the wood, which is cleanly cut, precisely planed and then glued to each other in boards, already has similarities with the old – currently disassembled – deadwood keel of the yacht.

A whole tree lost its life for a keel and backstem, This story inspired the imagination of the people in the North Sea and Baltic Sea region centuries ago.

Even today, the legends surrounding the ship’s hobgoblin are still told in many variations:
If a child dies before birth or baptism, his soul goes into a tree and from then on he lives as a tree-spirit, firmly connected to it. When this tree is felled for shipbuilding, the mythical creature does not leave its place, but passes to the built ship.

As a good ghost, the “Klabautermann” (the ship’s hobgoblin) helps the captain with enviable seafaring skills in storms or shallows, supports the sailors in their heavy daily tasks and draws the ship carpenter’s attention to damaged areas by knocking or hammering at night. But he also likes to be a joker. He is said to have helped many a lazy man with kicks and knocks. Whoever annoys him will feel his anger.

The “Klabautermann” is loyal to a capable captain who takes care of ship and crew. He is always concerned about the wellbeing of his ship. However, he only shows himself to the crew in extreme hardship – even if he can’t help them any more – just before he leaves the ship: a sign of a certain downfall.
When he knocks, he stays – when he is planing, he leaves “, the sailors of earlier times have told themselves.

In our modern world, they seem to have found a far less fabulous explanation for this:
Knocking and hammering noises should indicate the normal “working” of intact parts on a wooden sailboat in the swell. Cockroach sounds – similar to a planer that glides through wood – on the other hand, are said to be evidence of serious damage caused by rotten wood in the area of the deadwood keel and underwater ship.
In such a case, the crew and captain are well advised to hurry to the next port to refitt the ship in a dry dock.
Time pressure and greed for profit have repeatedly thrown this warning into the wind, especially in commercial shipping – often with fatal consequences for the sailors on board.

Perhaps the new captain of MARABU should also always provide a small bowl of milk and a sip of rum – just in case there is a little truth in these old legends.