Shipping News Artist Sets Sail in Life-Sized Paper Boat

He built it, a ship made of Tetrapak material, and dreamed of sailing it down the roaring Elbe. But it was a cruise not meant to be.


Frank Bölter mans the helm on his 9-meter Tetrapak "ship" as it cruises full-float-ahead around Lauenburg harbor.
SPIEGEL ONLINE

Frank Bölter mans the helm on his 9-meter Tetrapak "ship" as it cruises full-float-ahead around Lauenburg harbor.

A man's dreams of sailing a ship he built himself down the Elbe River have been shattered by a local shipping office -- because his boat is made of milk carton material.

German artist Frank Bölter, 37, made the 9-meter-long, 25-kilogram ship out of 175 square meters of Tetrapak, a material made of paper with a helping of polyethylene and a dash of aluminium and used to hold milk, juices and other liquids.

He used origami techniques to fold the waterproof material. "It's surprisingly stabile," Bölter told SPIEGEL ONLINE.

His original plan was to float his unpowered, sail-less vessel downstream along the Elbe from Lauenburg, a town some 50 kilometers upstream from Hamburg, coast past Hamburg's bustling harbor, and cruise to a stop in Brunsbüttel, a town near where the Elbe opens its jaws into the North Sea. It was to be, in his words, his "to the end of the world tour" and "a poetic act of cruising."

Halt camera. Enter stage left officials from the Lauenburg Water and Shipping Office. Apparently Bölter failed to inform them of his planned escapade and he forgot about a little thing called a permit. To do what he wanted to do, he would have had to fork over thousands of euros for documents testifying to his vessel's seaworthiness and ability to carry a load.

Mr. Bölter chose not to swallow the expenses. Instead, he opted for a leisurely cruise round Lauenburg harbor on Thursday evening.

jtw/spiegel

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