Emptiness – September 2017

From the outside, MARABU looks much as it has done for the last weeks. Its lines convey tranquillity and stability even when it is standing dilapidated in the workshop hall. But appearances can be deceptive… . On the sides – in the area where planks, deadwood and ballast keel meet – there are big gaps. In order to be able to assess the condition and thus the expected workload precisely, the most sensitive area of the underwater vessel had to be made accessible. Even though the deadwood has survived the years to some extent, the same cannot be said about the iron frames and wranges.

The nuts, which have held the weight of the lead keel with bolts on the hull, I find crumbled as rusty bits in a bucket. The remaining metal parts do not look much better either.

It has become quiet around MARABU, because more important projects are currently requiring the attention of the shipwrights. So I set out on my own, accompanied by Olaf’s encouraging words, which summarized say: “Refresh your tetanus vaccine before entering the construction site”. As he is working on a new building project next to MARABU, I know that he will stay in touch.

An empty shell has remained of X10 – rusty, dirty and largely dilapidated. The cabin sole is missing, the bilge is peppered with sharp-edged, rusted or loose metal remains and on the steeply rising, planked side walls wich cannot provide me or the tripod with the camera on it a secure hold.

A sense of unrest spreads in me. Just taking a few photos today seems to take an eternity. I am anxious to avoid any wrong footsteps and try to position the image in the viewfinder as accurately as possible from my huddled-up position. From time to time, my muted rumbling and cursing may be heard from the outside – whenever I try to change the position with my equipment.

After two hours I am glad to escape the oppressive atmosphere and look around in the workshop hall, standing high on the remaining deck. My eyes fall on a workbench.

Maybe there is still a part of MARABU’s “soul” to be found there? Some old fittings, the  propeller and two small mirrors leaning against the wall did not seem to find their way into the trash dumpster. While I take pictures, I wonder how many people in these mirrors probably looked themselves into the boodshot eyes of those who were not sleeping, after days at sea before arriving in the harbour, they quickly cut their beards or brushed their teeth in a hurry at an incline of 30°.

Silently,I hope that some inconspicuous remnantss of a past time will eventually find their place on MARABU and accompany the sailors of a new generation on a long journey across the sea.