The "Klabautermann" in Bremerhaven
The Klabautermann is a good-natured ship's goblin. And like all goblins, he is known for his penchant for mischief. Nor would he be a goblin if he didn't possess extraordinary powers. For example, he can predict thunderstorms, or whether the ship will sink. If a storm is brewing, he alerts the crew in time. However, if the ship will sink, he will warn the captain or sailors beforehand and leave the ship. That is why the sailors fear him, because he also announces great disaster. But where captain and crew are diligent and just, there he remains and helps. In the hold you can hear him rumbling when he keeps order, so that everything does not fly around and the hull does not leak. And above all, he loudly knocks the wood with his caulking hammer to check for leaks and rotten spots, so that the ship's carpenter can hear it too. Leaky gaps between the planks are calked completely unnoticed, even with this special tool. If he stops knocking, however, he has left the ship and everyone knows that the ship is in bad shape. As long as wooden sailors sailed the seas, it was easy for the goblin to simply switch to another ship, and he rarely goes ashore. If there is a good captain on board, it is also possible that Klabauter goes with him when he leaves the ship.
Also from the American barque "Elizabeth Bandi" a wooden tall ship, the captain disappeared. But without a trace and that in the middle of the sea. That was in 1919 during the maiden voyage, loaded with wood for Bahia in Brazil. The crew must have been horrified after the disappearance without a trace, because they rowed away in the dinghies. Abandoned, the tall ship drifted like a ghost ship off the Atlantic island of Saint Thomas. Today we know that the shipowner was too impatient. Even before the wood was really dry, he had the "Elizabeth Bandi" built and sent to sea. So the shipworm crept into the planks and the ship became leaky and rotten. If Klabauter went on board in America, he certainly knocked, he certainly hammered loudly to warn that there were leaks, and then he and the captain probably left the ship because nobody cared about the knocking. Because there are seamen who do not want to believe in the ship's kobold.
At a time when there are only a few large wooden sailing ships left that have to be tapped for leaks or where the lives of an entire crew have to be saved with storm warnings, Bremerhaven's museum harbour is a jewel of seafaring days that have remained alive, and possibly a home for the ship's klapauter.
And so it is not surprising that very close to the museum harbour of the German Maritime Museum, in the direction of the radar tower, there is an unusual fountain. With a figure that is not normally found there. At the top of the fountain, on a dolphin, the Klabautermann is enthroned. And the one or other attentive eye will certainly not have missed it: If you stand very close behind the dolphin and follow its benevolently mischievous look, you can see through a few trees directly to the museum harbour.
Those who walk through the museum harbour or walk alongside the New Harbour with its traditional sailing ships and are very quiet can hear it. Specially when it gets dark and it gets quieter in the harbour. The creaking and crunching of the planks, the wood as it groans, and the rumbling and rumbling when the wind whistles through the masts. And sometimes a rumble and a bang.
But hardly anyone has seen the Klabautermann yet. Some people have thought they have seen him before, but as quickly as he appears, he has disappeared again. Others, on the other hand, have probably actually seen him, but they did not want to believe it or at least did not want to admit it. After all, no sailor or coastal dweller likes to be accused of spinning sailor's yarn.
And a lot of sailor's yarn was spun. On the other hand, for a long time, many of the stories that were told to sailors were not believed, but they turned out to be true after all. Tales of sea monsters such as giant squids, ship graveyards in the open sea and the disappearance of ships in the Bermuda Triangle, reports of monster waves that appear from nowhere and can destroy entire ships. All these stories of sailors were not taken seriously for a long time. Today we know they were right. Therefore, one should be careful to judge someone hastily if he tells that he has seen the ship's kobold.
Having grown up with shipping, the inhabitants of the maritime city know that if a ship's kobold is on board, he may be playing a prank to show that he is basically a good ship's goblin. Can he also make a fool out of you, so that you might think you have mislaid something again, although you could swear you just saw it. Or you can't explain how one or the other object could have fallen off again. Nevertheless, especially those who have heard it before take to heart that it still keeps an eye on everyone at sea, and that it reliably predicts upcoming storms.
At the entrance to the North Sea, the Klabautermann is a goblin, which one likes to have on board and in the city.
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