It began in winter 2007, when there was only an idea and a couple of drawings. Discussions with the shipyard about practicability and a first blueprint followed. An impressive illustration, (Willner-Design), attracted the interest of banks, sponsors and customers. After only four months of construction time the finished raft arrived in Stuttgart in August 2008.
Further technical details: Facts
Today the Party Raft is a well-known and established party location in Stuttgart. At the same time it serves the relaxation in fresh air, as a means of transport to the region's sights and as a “platform” for meetings and presentations.
A virtual tour and more photos: Gallery
How did it come to Stuttgart's 1st Party Raft?
A short interview with Wolfgang Thie, the “Neckar Käpt'n”, and his wife Susanne.
Mr. Thie, how did you get the idea to build a raft for the Neckar?
“To be honest, we always wanted a passenger ship with a capacity of more than 100 passengers on one level. Furthermore we wanted to have a ship which is able to stop in the middle of the river, without the need of a shipping pier.”
Why precisely a raft?
“I grew up in a seafaring family. My parents and grandparents still experienced those times, when shipmen used to tow, to punt, or to sail ships on the river. Later on tugboats towed ships up a hill. The tradition of river navigation goes back even longer, back to the times of timber rafting. With our raft we wanted to set a monument to the traditions and the importance of the Neckar as a waterway.”
Have there ever been rafts on the Neckar before?
“Oh yes, of course. Rafting as a method of transporting wood has been used here for ages. In the Middle Ages up to the 19th century the paths and streets in Germany were so damaged, that transport ashore for longer distances wasn’t possible. Due to high density of population, high consumption of wood for fuel purposes, and due to an increase of wood used in shipbuilding, enormous quantities of wood had to be transported down from the mountains. In the 19th century industrialisation caused even more consumption of wood. By the end of the 19th century the railway took over the wood transports step by step.
While in 1869 there were 18 rafts with softwood and 46 rafts with hardwood passing by the river at Muehlhausen, there were 6 rafts during the year 1899. Finally, the last raft on the river Neckar was transporting its goods in 1899.”
Surely you don’t want to transport wood nowadays, do you? What do you want to offer your guests on the raft?
“Nowadays we want to use the raft only for cruises and to show, even if it's just partially possible, the cultural possessions and great history of timber rafting in those days. So take a chance to jump through history to experience the joy and excitement between past and present on a raft tour.”
History of the 1st Stuttgart Party Raft
May 5th, 2008 – keel laying
On 5th of May 2008 the keel was laid at the shipyard and service centre Mittelrhein in Remagen. The pictures from this important day show the first transverse bulkhead with the vertical frame and cut-outs for the longitudinal frames or stringer. This bulkhead will later be set up on edge.
The raft gets an unusual keel. It is formed by a continuous tube; the base plates are screwed on both sides of it. Any contact with the ground will be gentle for the hull.
The basis for the shipbuilding are several detailed plans, here you can see an engineering detail drawing of the superstructure deck with wooden planking.
Construction progress 25th of May 2008
In the meantime the bottom plates were welded to the keel tube. The first bulkheads were placed vertically and also welded. You can see the keel as well as the room layout below deck: storerooms, tanks and the passage to the engine rooms, (in the picture).
Construction progress 5th of June 2008
In the meantime a part of the upper deck has been completed. You can see the part of the deck that covers the engine room.
The rear bulkhead and the wheelhouse walls are already visible. The last picture shows a view into the port engine room.
Construction progress on 26th of June 2008
In the meantime the hulk is finished, the tanks and the engines are installed. The deck is already installed. Interesting is the anchor pile you can see in the middle of the photo. There'll be a second at the bow. If required, the anchor piles can be hydraulically lowered to the river bed and anchor the raft so that it stands firmly on the river bed.
- 2 propellers are ready for the newly built raft with the construction number 150.
- 32 tons of larch wood are used as half trunks for the cladding and as beams for the deck.
- The bow thruster and its propulsion motor are already installed in the stem.
- The diesel generator and electric motor work together in the drive system.
Construction progress 8th of July 2008
The 9.8 m wide stern and parts of the side walls are already clad with larch half-trunks. Above the wooden cladding you can already see a part of the superstructure behind the anchor post. A picture shows the view from the galley forward to the open deck which is just being covered with wood. The raft will have a draught of only 80 centimetres, which you can see very well on the photos.
Construction progress 15th of July 2008
The stern and side walls are fully planked. Part of the superstructure, the wheelhouse, is ready. The prominent anchor pile at the rear is clearly visible.
Construction progress 28th July 2008
You can already see the raft covered with wood. The wheelhouse is clearly visible with the covered area in the background. The striking anchor pile is in the foreground.
Construction progress 8th of August 2008
The raft's almost ready! It just has to be cleaned up.
Construction Progress dated August 12th, 2008
Finally the Raft is on the water!
Up the river neckar, August 20th and 21st, 2008
Finally the raft hits its elements. After three days and 21 locks on the river Neckar the 1st Stuttgart Party Raft has arrived in Stuttgart in best condition. Crew tired, Captain happy, everything and everybody has worked very well. The trip was a pleasant experience for all guests in sunny weather. The atmosphere was excellent.
Raft Christening on August 23rd, 2008
On 23rd of August, the festively decorated Party Raft was christened with the active participation of the invited guests, media and winners of a raffle.
Wolfgang Thie presented the idea for the Party Raft and thanked the shipyard for the good cooperation, his wife and children for their support and the staff for their great work.
Then he handed over the microphone to his son Danny. Danny Thie christened the raft ”King Ludwig“; with champagne and beer. Karl-Heinz Blawert, Honorary Chairman of the Federal Association of the Self-Employed, (Department of Inland Navigation), later rang the ship's bell to signal “In God's Name”.
Afterwards, the good-humored guests enjoyed a short round trip, freshly grilled food with hearty wheat beer.