The Idea

Overview:

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?

Wolfgang Thie:
“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?

Wolfgang Thie:
“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?

Susanne Thie:
“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!


Maiden voyage

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.