Hull Speed – December 2021

«I try to write in a different style every time”… Work on the hull of  MARABU has progressed with impressive speed over the last few weeks.

In the meantime, only a few plank courses are still missing below the deck line. In order to make such rapid progress, the boat builders like to fall back on old craft techniques. That’s why Axel is making every effort today to explain to me how the “ree” (a term used by German boatbuilders) works.

A right-angled pattern at plank height made of bendable plywood is applied to the frames above the last, newly installed plank with light pressure. The distances between the upper edge of the plank and the lower edge of the “ree” resulting from the hull bending are measured at rib height and transferred to the template – in variant handwriting, so that a new “ree” does not have to be made for each “measure”.

Speaking of handwriting – how do one actually write “Ree”? To answer this question, Josef Martin has to rummage through his old books in the office – in the 1964th edition of “Vom Bug zum Heck” (from bow to stern) by Curt Eichler, he finally finds what he is looking for: with “double e” *.

In the next step, the template is placed on a carefully selected plank of wood, secured with weights to prevent it from slipping, and an arc-shaped line is transferred to the mahogany with the help of the spacing compound and a straightedge. After marking a parallel line at the distance of the plank height, master boat builder Axel now uses the hand-held circular saw to saw the slightly curved blank of the new plank out of the rough wood.

Theoretically, a compass – called a “passer” – could also be used to take off the distances: For this purpose, their course would be drawn on the “ree” at the height of the frames by means of a straight line, the compass would be set at the lower point of the straight line to the distance between the lower edge of the “ree” and the upper edge of the plank, and then it would be taken off in mirror image to a straight line. When transferring to the plank, the procedure is then exactly the other way round.

Axel, however, works as described above and seen in the pictures with the measuring scale of a folding rule.

However, the curve alone is not enough to ensure that the workpiece fits snugly against the hull. A hand plane with a convex (outward curved) blade is used to work the curve of the frames evenly into the inside. After further adjustment work directly “on site”, the plank is then glued to the frames and the plank gangway below with combined forces. The quickly applied myriad screw clamps and tensioners between the old and new wood hold everything flush in place until the epoxy has fully cured.

Some of the plank courses in the underwater area and at the bow and stern are very warped, however. In the old days, one would have worked with wood grown to approximate fit and then steamed.

Since this is hardly available on the market today, it is easier to use molded glue and, above all, at a higher “hull” speed!


* Eichler, Curt. 1964. Vom Bug zum Heck. Klasing & Co, Bielefeld, 1. Januar 1964