Old Iron – September 2018

Years of heavy labour in the troubled salt water of the Atlantic ocean, journeys through the Bay of Biscay to Spain, long blows to the west to America or St. Petersburg in the east have especially affected the ribs in the hull of MARABU. The traces of battle can be seen most clearly on the old iron – alternately used with oak ribs. Against the rusted through stabilizers the likewise taken along construction units from wood still work relatively solidly.

The wooden frames are preserved as far as possible or partially supplemented, the steel must be completely replaced. The choice fell on Robinie. Also without chemical protection means resistant against wood rot and other plague spirits, flexible, dense and firm the wood prevails more and more against the oak preferred in shipbuilding for a long time. Despite all its advantages, attention and experience are required when processing the wood.
Even before the planks are cut into veneer layers, Axel makes sure that the grain direction in the longitudinal direction follows the curves of the template as closely as possible (see the article “Unwinding”). Sapwood and growth problems, e.g. caused by knots, are rigorously sorted out. When form gluing the layers, it ensures that the surface is sufficiently wetted with epoxy resin. Cotton fibres added to the adhesive increase the strength of the joint: The high wood density delays a deeper penetration of the glue. By adding fibres, the swelling caused by the contact pressure is reduced over the sides before the resin could set and harden.

The steel used by A&R in 1936 in the German war mobiliation as an armaments factory must now give way frame by frame out of MARABU. Just like other 100 seafaring cruisers produced for the Luftwaffe and thus as a “war machine”, the question of their intended use has been with me for quite some time.
“What kind of bird are you if you can’t fly” asks the little bird the duck in Sergei Prokofiev’s “Peter and the Wolf”, to which the duck answers “What kind of bird are you if you can’t swim? – so it seems to me with the sailing vessels of the flying forces.
In order to be able to train prospective pilots better in navigation, a common and usually the official explanation approach is. But why should you have done such an effort with maintenance-intensive wooden sailing boats, when much faster machine-powered ships were available for larger groups as training vehicles?
It is also often said that high-ranking officers and party officials wanted to fulfil their dream of regattas and leisure at sea. The former had to serve as an alibi for financing. In English sources, for example, MARABU is associated with Hermann Goering. Behind this approach one could suspect a PR campaign by the owners to increase the value of the ships on sale.

However, the use of these ships for an item associated today with the terms “team building” and “assessment” seems conclusive: Where better to test cooperation, group dynamics as well as leadership strength and resilience of prospective cadres than in exceptional situations under “camp fever” and “bad weather” conditions?