A reproduction of Noah’s Ark built to Biblical proportions may come to Israel but it may take more than 40 days and 40 nights.
When he was 33 years old in 1971, Johan Huibers, a devout Christian Dutch businessman and carpenter who made a fortune building storage spaces, had a dream that a fierce storm-tide flooded the entire province of Nood-Holland in the Netherlands where he lived. This motivated him to build an ark. His first attempt was a half-size version he built with his own hands, taking one-and-a-half years to complete at a cost of over one million dollars. 230 feet long, 31 feet wide, and 43 ft high, it was constructed of wood mounted on a metal barge and designed to be towed through the country’s canals. A few years later, Huibers and eight helpers built a full-size version measuring 390 feet long, 98 feet wide, and 78 feet high at a cost of $4.5 million.
Through an enormous effort and sheer willpower, Huibers had created the only full-size floating replica of Noah’s Ark.
In 2012, the ark opened to the public, touring Germany, Denmark, and Norway. For the last two years has been cruising the Maas River in Holland as an interactive Bible museum but Huibers has plans to take the ark on a cruise.
“My preferred destination for the ark is Israel,” Huibers, 60, told JTA in an interview.
“It may sound scary, but I believe everything written in this book, cover to cover,” he said about the Bible. “This is a copy of God’s ship. It only makes sense to take it to God’s land.”
His voyage my require a bit of Divine help. The ark is not seaworthy and like the original, has neither motor or sails. Unlike the original, Huibers’ creation is incapable of handling waves more than five feet tall. It is moved around by being towed by tugboats over the rivers, but even this is not without risks. In June 2016, Huibers’ ark struck a Norwegian Coast Guard vessel while being towed in Oslo Harbor. Later that year, the smaller version now owned by Aad Peters, a Dutch TV and theater producer who lives aboard the ark, struck another vessel and was seriously damaged while being towed.
The ark could still make a voyage to Israel, travelling on top of a pontoon or transport ship. It is estimated that the trip will cost $1.3 million but Huibers’ is an enthusiastic Lover of Zion.
“I love the land, I love the country, I love the people,” he said of Israel. “They don’t obey, they do what they want, they drive like mad, shove while waiting in line and don’t listen to anyone. Just like me.”
Huibers remains convinced that his original vision of a flood will come to pass.
“I believe we are living in the end of times,” he told JTA. “We’re not conscious of it. People never are.”
“The water is going to come. From the mountains, from the sea, through Germany. Just like in 1959,” he said. “It sound’s like doom and gloom. But I’m not afraid of it. Maybe it will, who knows, but my survival is not [the ark’s] purpose. It’s meant to educate, a reminder that our world is changing, will continue to change, as we see now because of global warming, rising sea levels, fires.”