How a-BOAT this! Ship built by homeless men sets sail after 15 years in the making

The 17-metre-long, 5-metre-wide ’Father Bogusław’ saw it’s ‘technical launch’ on the Żerański Kanał Monday. Leszek Szymański/PAP

A ship built by a group of homeless men has finally set sail - 15 years after work on it began. 

The 17-metre-long, 5-metre-wide ’Father Bogusław’ saw it’s ‘technical launch’ on the Żerański Kanał Monday, after being transported from the Kamilinian Social Welfare Mission in Warsaw. 

Built entirely from scratch, it took 200 men to complete using materials donated by local companies. Leszek Szymański/PAP

Named after the priest who came up with the idea in 2006 to break stereotypes of the homeless being helpless, it took 200 men to build the entire 37-tonne ship from scratch using materials donated by companies supporting the initiative. 

The ship’s captain Waldemar Rzeźnicki, said: “What seemed impossible has become possible.

The ship’s captain Waldemar Rzeźnicki, said: “What seemed impossible has become possible.”Leszek Szymański/PAP

“The ship is a gaff schooner. It weighs 37 tons and is 17 meters long. The masts measure 16 meters. 

“It's beautiful. And more important than the numbers is that it was built by homeless people. 

The boat was named after the priest who came up with the idea to break stereotypes of the homeless being helpless.Kalbar/TFN

“They learned to coexist with each other, they learned to create a team, they learned to be consistent in pursuing the goal.

“And now our dreams will come true.”

Talking to TFN in 2018, Marek Mentrak who helped build the ship said: “I learned a lot of things I never expected I would do building this ship.

The 17-metre-long ship was built entirely at the shelter.Kalbar/TFN

“When I fell into homelessness, I often started things but never finished. 

That's why this boat is so important to me, It’s not about the years of work I’ve put in, it's about the fact it’s about to be finished. 

“That’s the great pleasure for me.”

The team now plans to sail it to Gdańsk for an official baptism and then carry out test and non-test cruises before setting off around the world. Leszek Szymański/PAP

Now that the ship is finished, the team plan to sail it to Gdańsk for an official baptism and then carry out test and non-test cruises before setting off around the world. 

Rzeźnicki said: “The ship is intended for high shipping, without restrictions. It is a solid unit. 

“I have no doubts about its reliability and durability.”