Balance – Mai 2022

The hull fully planked, the future underwater hull spackled bright white, this is how the MARABU appears to be perched on her old, restored keel of 8 tonnes (17 636 lbs) of cast lead.
In order to be able to check the alignment of the hull form during their work, the boat builders have attached a plumb line to the centre of the bow and stern. Again and again, Axel and his colleagues are amazed at how precisely the 17-metre-long ship was manufactured at Abeking & Rasmussen (A & R) almost 100 years ago. The port and starboard sides differ from each other by only a few millimetres. Everything is almost perfectly balanced.

How was it possible without today’s precision tools and machines, when steaming was still used instead of moulding with templates, for a ship to be launched in just a few weeks that is now being restored by a handful of boatbuilders over years of work?

A lot of knowledge has been lost, Axel says regretfully. He likes to look at old pictures from that time. The arrangement of the machines and workpieces, how many workers were distributed in the production halls and in what way, all this can reveal a lot about the efficient working techniques of that time.
A renowned shipyard like A & R certainly had enough personnel to carry out one work step at a time on several ships in parallel in highly specialised groups. Sawing, planing, planking, riveting – everything happened simultaneously on one hull. This already resembled industrial series construction including assembly line work.
When dismantling his restoration objects, Axel thinks a lot. Many of the constructions and processes used in the past only make sense at second glance. Sometimes he only realises the “how” and “why” long after he has finished work.

Over the years, an enormous amount of knowledge has grown in the head of the experienced master boat builder. He has accompanied many budding and young boat builders during his career and hopes that one or two seeds have fallen on fertile ground with a curious, motivated colleague.