We crafft unique furniture pieces from reclaimed shipwrecked timber
Where it all started! The “Kunene”
A brief history
The Kunene was named after a river which is the border between Namibia and Angola. The Kunene’s keel was laid in June 1958 and she was launched in October 1958. The hull was build by Louw & Halvorsen in Cape Town. The aluminium wheelhouse and “whaledeck” was build by Globe engineering in Cape Town. The Kunene had an identical sister ship – Trachurus. The Trachurus was launched in September 1958. Both vessels was owned by the Department of Sea-fisheries until 1986, and was fitted out with bottom trawlers for research purposes. Each boat could accommodate 9 crew members, a Skipper, navigation officer, engineer and 6 crewmen. The navigation officer and engineer’s cabin was behind the engine-room, while the Skipper had a cabin in the front of the boat below the whale-deck. The 6 crew had below-deck accommodation in the “focsle”. A compartment was located in the “focsle” that housed 2 scientists as well. The boat had 2 laboratories – one in the wheelhouse on the deck and the other below deck.
Length: 70 feet
Year build: 1958
Shipyard: Louw & Halvorsen / Globe Engineering
Engine: Burmeister & Wain (180 hp.)
After being sold off to private owners she served the long-line tuna and chokka fishing industries in South-Africa. As with all sea going vessels she faced many trials and was blown onto shallow reefs 3 times in severe gales. She survived a life at sea thanks to her sturdy construction and was finally decommissioned to the harbor of Port Elizabeth where she lay at anchor with her bilge pumps working around the clock to keep her afloat. After the latter failed one night she came to the unfortunate demise of sinking to the bottom of the harbour floor.
After being bought for ZAR5.00 by salvagers Jimmy Uys and Paul Durandt from South Cape Salvage she was raised off the harbour floor in a mighty salvage operation. The Kunene was beyond repair and was stripped for scrap metal. As part of the deal her timber hull had to be removed and was nearly burnt. She finally came to rest on a grain farm in the Swellendam district where her once gracefull hull lay in segments being given a last bit of character by the hot African sun.
“Largo” belonged to Mr. Antonio Dipaola from St.Helena Bay. She was used as a purse seiner to fish for the factory of Suid-Oranje Visserye at Sandy Point in St.Helena Bay. She was 65-feet in length and was built by Louw & Halvorsen at Cape Town in 1960. She was sold to Mr. J.D & R.Edwards of Mosselbay and was converted to an inshore trawler. She was then sold to Mariette Fishing and then again to Mosselbay Fishermen CC.
After spending a long time on the slipway in Mosselbay, the “Largo” came to the very ungraceful end of being hacked up and dumped on a landfill site. More information on her history and how she came to be where we found her is currently being investigated and is so far proving to be very intriguing.
Her remnants was carefully collected and transported to our yard where the parts are being carefully dissembled for use as raw material in our exiting furniture.
The Bogenfels was named after a natural rock arch on the coast of Namibia, hence the name, which means “arch rock” in German. She was 58 ft and was build in 1948 by Fritz Nieswand in Lüderitz, Namibia. The main activity being Cray-fishing. After being sold on it served the Eastern Cape chokka industry until it was converted into a long distance sport-fishing charter boat. The giant freezer room that used to hold tons of chokka was ripped out and transformed into bunk rooms for sport-fishermen. A large U-shape railway sleeper bar was installed and a gas barbecue in the stern. She was a sturdy vessel powered by a 225 hp Detroit Diesel, with a cruising speed of eight knots and a range of 2000 nautical miles.
The Bogenfels was salvaged from the PE harbor after it sunk and was under-water for little over a year. She was raised from the sea-bed by filling her cargo holds with giant lifting bags and slowly dragging the hull out on to the slipway by means of a 40 ton crane. Once out of the water the difficult task of dismantling the hull started. The first couple of weeks was the worse, with the smell of dead and decaying marine growth thick in the air. The hull was carefully dismantled into large sections and transported to our yard where the painstaking task of removing the planking started.
Area Code: HTB 91A; (DDF 120)
Call Sign: ZR3299
Owner: Rietgans Fishing Enterprises (PTY) Ltd.; (Groenewald & Germishuys)
Length (ft): 62
Builder: Louw & Halvorsen, Cape Town
Year Built: 1962
Engine Make: GM (CAT)
Main Activity: Squid; Tuna; (Purse Seiner*)
*Factory Fished for: Gansbaai Marine (1963-1984)
Skipper: Johnnie Germishuys
How it all started
“Finally I stumbled upon the wreck of the Kunene and fell in love with her timbers. I carted the bits off to my workshop in Knysna without a specific plan and started cleaning the multiple rusted nails out of the timber.”
Well, so the timber lay in my workshop for a while till finally there was time to make the first item. “Table 1” it was called for the lack of a better description, but in no way did it detract from the great character and warmth that this table owned.
This was more or less how it all started and now we’re busy setting the standard for great looking, innovative furniture made in an environmentally conscious manner. We use exclusively timber from our wrecks which in many ways limits us in conventional thinking and forces us to let the timber dictate the size, shape and finish of the final product. These boats were chopped up with chainsaws and little regard for future use. The parameters were the size of the dump-trucks that was used to transport it. For this reason it is not possible to make very long tables without joints etc. Boats are also not square or box shaped. It is their beautiful streamlined hulls that make it possible for them to sail the oceans. For exactly this reason there are very few straight planks that come off these wrecks. All of the above challenges make it so much more rewarding to work with such great raw material.
Our team at the moment is small, but consistently delivers a great product. A lot of time is spent extracting our wrecks from where we found them and turning the raw chunks into usable raw material. We have a big budget for saw and planer blades because of all the metal still prevalent in the timber. A full time team member is involved in cleaning and dismantling the wrecks. The metal bits incorporated in some of the designs are all leftovers from the wrecks.