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Changing position #1


This summer Stijn used his vacation to renew the wheelhouse. I worked more to earn some extra money and next to that spent as much time as possible on the wheelhouse as well. After a full month of working on the wheelhouse the new one is not ready yet. It’s easy to say, take the wheelhouse off and replace a new one, but there’s something more to it.

In addition to renew the wheelhouse we also lower it because it will ance Atlas’ sailing qualities. This means that we lower the floor of the wheelhouse into the engine room. We also want to make a shed below the wheelhouse. Which will be accessible from outside through the entrance on port side or through the new hatch at the front. This shed will become an ideal place to store ropes, sails and a dinghy. Previously this space was part of the engine room were all kinds of installations were installed such as the steering system, the day fuel tank, coolant tank and a heavy generator.

Last winter Stijn worked at the port side entrance. Previously it was one of the main entrances of the ship. By entering it now, you will get into the shed by a few steps. With help of Bert and Auke Prinsen, Stijn constructed steel beams in the engine room which will serve as the mast foundation. They also made the new floor of the shed. After this work, the old installations could be removed through the new hatch. Instead of a new day fuel tank there is a new fuel system installed in the engine room. In this system the gasoil can be taken directly from the main storage fuel tanks.

So many things come together on this few square meters. It’s fascinating how everything is connected and must be in balance on a ship.

During the summer Stijn made molds. He used these molds to build the new parts of the wheelhouse. The shape of the new wheelhouse are based on the old one. After that we cut the wheelhouse and a crane company removed the wheelhouse in just a few hours. The Atlas was a kind of amputated.

Still a few things needed to be done before the new parts of the wheelhouse could be placed. The steel connections needed to be made, welded and painted. The polyester parts of the wheelhouse will be bonded onto these connections.

Now, early in September we are ready to place the parts. A special moment in the project!


Laura Schippers

Veilingkade 12b, Breda, Netherlands

Blog series: 'Changing Position'

Starting point of this blog is the Atlas, a former Polish fishing vessel (1974). In 2015  Stijn de Geus and I bought this ship in Hamburg. In the same year we sailed to Breda, where the Atlas Initiatief became part of the cultural area Haveneiland. From this place we rebuild the ship into a self-sustainable sailing boat and we are preparing ourselves to sail into the world for an indefinite period from 2021. Until then, there will be art projects onboard on a regular bases.

The Atlas Initiatief is an experiment, we pursue a nomadic, self-sustainable (autonomous + environmentally friendly) and adventurous life. People who need the Atlas for their scientific or artistic research are very welcome to submit their research or project plan. All oceans, coastal areas and harbor-cities are part of our working field. The Atlas is suitable for small research and projects that, for example has to sail to a very remote area or requires a specific sailing route.

To travel, physically moving through the landscape, is an important aspect from where my visual work can be generated. Traveling fascinated me already from when I was a child. Back then I went sailing in vacations with my family. A slow way of traveling, where I experience the changing landscape and I’m subjected to the elements. Getting somewhere on your own, by means of wind gives me a rich feeling. The Atlas would be an ideal studio for me, because of the constantly changing position and the varying projects onboard. The projects take their own 'world' and look with them, what makes me questioning the changing world over and over again.

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