DORDRECHT, the Netherlands — If Noah had run into the modern nanny state, or nimby, or a few of the other obstacles that Johan Huibers has been facing, the animal kingdom might look a lot different today.
Mr. Huibers, 60, the successful owner of a big construction company, has spent the last few years building an ark, identical in size to the one Noah is said in the book of Genesis to have built: 300 cubits in length, or 450 feet; 30 cubits high, or about three stories; and 50 cubits, or 75 feet, wide. The cubit of the Bible, Mr. Huibers said, was the distance between finger tips and elbow, or in his case roughly 18 inches.
He is building the ark out of Swedish pine, because some versions of the Bible describe the wood God ordered Noah to use as “resin wood,” which Mr. Huibers says is pine.
“We should finish by the middle of July,” he said, leading a visitor through the ark’s cavernous decks, still rich with the smell of fresh pine. “Maybe later.”
Unlike Noah, Mr. Huibers had to conform to Dutch fire safety standards. To do so, he installed a special anchor that qualifies the 2,970-ton ark as a building, rather than a vessel. Moreover, he will have to paint the ark, inside and out, with three coats of fire-retardant varnish. (Noah covered his ark with pitch, making it waterproof but hardly fire retardant.)
And then there are the neighbors.
“The ship takes away our view,” complained Gerrit Kruythoff, 65, who has lived with his wife and family for 42 years in the trim brick row house next to the disused shipyard where Mr. Huibers is toiling, with the help of two of his three children and a handful of friends.
“We used to have a view all the way to the river,” Mr. Kruythoff, a retired employee of the big DuPont chemical works here said. “You could see the ships passing by.”
He has not lodged a formal complaint, he said, because his home, with those of several neighbors, will soon be torn down anyway, to make way for a new residential development on the site of the former shipyard where the unfinished ark stands. By then, the ark will have sailed.
Actually, this ark is not the first that Mr. Huibers has built. He first began dreaming of an ark in 1992, shortly after a heavy storm lashed the coastal region north of Amsterdam where he lives. His wife, Bianca, a police officer, opposed the idea.
“She said no, but by 2004 I had built a smaller ark, 225 feet long, to sail through the Dutch canals,” he said. It became a minor sensation. He charged adult visitors $7 to board it.
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