Kupfer – April 2022

Loud hammer blows have been clearly audible for days, even outside the shipyard gate. Staying in the spacious hall is only bearable with ear protection.

About 3500 – 4000 copper rivets are needed to firmly connect frames and planks. This day-long “rivet party” is a case for apprentices Lennart and Leon, who are currently in their first and second years of training at Martin Yachten to learn the traditional boatbuilding trade.

Lennart has taken on the physically heavy work on the outside. After hammering the rivets into the holes pre-drilled through the planks and ribs, he reaches for the 15 kg counterholder to clamp it against the rivet head. In the meantime, Leon places a rivet washer over each of the protruding parts of the rivet nails from the inside. With powerful hammer blows on the rivet puller placed on top of it, he drives and compresses the joints against the counterholder and clamps the plank and frame against each other. From the outside, the holes are later plugged; inside, Leon trims the surfaces with a concave head maker.

To ensure that the right nail is always hit on the head, the two work their way from top to bottom, frame by frame, inside and out, while shouting terse commands to each other through the ship’s side and earplugs.
Lennart’s forehead is beaded with sweat; he doesn’t need a gym, he says, and laughs despite all the effort. He is happy to be involved in this special project right at the start of his training.

It is not the ship that is created by forging the nails and sawing the boards. Rather, the forging of the nails and sawing of the boards comes from the urge to go to sea and grow the ship.

Antoine de Saint-Exupéry,
1948 posthumous “The Wisdom of the Sands” (French “Citadelle”)