THE destiny of Norway remains, as it always has been, upon the sea.

Two-thirds of its population live upon its wondrous coastline. The value of the fishing-trade alone amounts to 10 per cent of the estimated total national income; and of the trade of the country, local and foreign, 95 per cent is carried upon the water. The rugged character and comparative poverty of the country inland has obliged the Norwegian race always to turn its eyes seaward; and to this day, as in the dawn of history, the young Norseman looks down the fjord towards the open sea, and sets there the dream of life before him. The history, the art, the poetry, the commerce, and even the politics of Norway all the influence of the ocean upon the character of the nation, more potent even than that of the mountain, the forest, and the snowfield. And may this not in large measure be the explanation of the singular action which the Norwegian people and scenery exercise upon many of our race? To many a wanderer is nothing so clean and bright in memory as the log-built Norwegian village, nestling among the rounded granite blocks, lapped by the ripples from blue waters of the fjord, and redolent of the wholesome pine-forest which girds it about on every side towards the hills.

It is not surprising that Norway should present some well-marked and distinctive types of craft. Small steamers have, very naturally, within recent years almost monopolised the coast carrying-trade, and in so doing have put out of work the old sailing-sloops and square-rigged Nordland jaegts which formerly were so characteristic a feature of the Norwegian coastline. Steam has also been introduced into the whale fisheries of the north, and to some extent into the cod and herring fisheries. But the great bulk of the cod and herring and local fisheries of the country, the pilot and other local services, continue to employ and develop sailing craft. The two well-marked types are the high-sheered, square-rigged craft of Finmarken, Nordland, and the west, and the deep, decked, fore-and-aft rigged boat of the south. The former displays the characteristics of the old Norse longship. Like her, she is generally a clinker-built, double-ended, open boat, and a wet ship to face the winter seas in, by reason of her low freeboard. But the Norse fisherman of today retains the same faith in his open boat as did his forefathers, and, as that plucky sailor Bjorn sang of old:

Salt is in my eyes, They are bathed;
My strong arms fail, My eyelids are smarting.

so the herring and cod fishers weather the northern gales with no shelter but the weather gunwale of their open boat, and with smarting eyes and tired arms bail for their lives with the same cheery spirit.


They credit this old type of boat with marvellous sea-going qualities, and by reason of the faith that is in them, and their own strength and skill, have made this simple old-world boat the trusted companion of their sea wanderings.

The secret of the Nordland boat probably lies in the extreme lightness of the ends, which makes her lively in a sea-way, and in her handiness under oars; for, shallow as she is, and narrow in the beam, she has none of the qualities of a steady-going sea-boat. Her life in bad weather depends upon the handling she receives. The most feminine of boats, she demands a real man for her helmsman, who knows his own mind and has a strong hand to effect his purpose. Capricious, quick, seemingly, to betray her charge, she yet loves to be ruled strongly. It is only this she wants; and once she finds that she has her master, she will take him through the wildest winter night in safety, yet not without throwing more water than is either seemly or safe.


The characteristics of build are shown quickest by a drawing. The planks are stout, few, and wide. The width is often as much as 16 inches in some parts; the ordinary five-oar herring-boat has only five to her side, and the smaller boats but three.
The ends have great sheer, the sides great flare, necessitating in many cases a waterway inclined sharply in-board and carried from the quarters to each bow, upon which the wooden oar tholes are usually fixed. A wash-strake is fitted to some of the herring-boats when deeply laden with nets or fish. In the larger boats used for winter fishing, a small cabin is arranged aft by building a bulk-head across at the quarters, raising the gunwale and decking in to the stern.


Here a stove and bunks are fitted, and some protection from the weather is obtained. All these boats rely chiefly on oars for progress to windward, having very little grip for weatherly work. They carry a crew varying from three to ten men, and range from quite small boats to 50 or 60 feet in length. *1*

*1* A herring-boat 33 feet 6 inches in length has the following dimensions:
  • Beam, 8 feet 8 inches ;
  • Depth, 2 feet 8 inches,
  • Mast, 23 feet 3 inches;
  • Yard, 11 feet, with from four to ten oars.

They are fast reaching, running or pulling; but for beating are to all intents and purposes mere rowing boats fitted with mast and sail, and are generally obliged to wear instead of tacking.


The types vary slightly on different parts of the coast. The Sondfjord boat on the west coast, for instance, is almost similar to the five-oar herring-boat depicted, but has more rounded stem and stern, lighter ends, and is a deeper and therefore better sea boat.


The Sondmoersk boat is another peculiar variety, with heavy ornamental stem and stern posts, and very peculiar construction of timbering. She carries her mast stepped amidships like the others, but is rigged with a short yarded and peculiarly cut lugsail. Around Arendal another class of lugsail boat is used, very like the Shetland boats, and generally known to British sailors as the Norway yawl.

Most of these boats have the long tiller and yoke which is necessitated by the high stern-post generally adopted.


The ancient Norsemen got round this difficulty by hanging the rudder upon the starboard (stjornbordi) quarter, a system which was generally followed until very modern times, and is still in use extensively in the East.

As already hinted, the rig is very simple, and consists of a single pole-mast stepped nearly midships, on which is set an ordinary square sail. Like her lineal descendants the 'keel' of our own east country waterways, the Nordland boat carries a small topsail, and the proportions of this sail in the two craft are very similar. By means of bowlines carried to the stem head a very flat set to windward can be obtained Two rows of reefs along the head, and one along the foot, are the rule. A stout forestay runs to the high stem-head, and is fitted with a purchase for hoisting the mast up with, and shrouds and backstay runner are used in the ordinary way. The main halyard leads through a sheave below the masthead, and is led down aft to a powerful purchase. The old-fashioned and very effective rib and truck parrell is used to keep the yard to the mast. It is the most efficient form of parrell known to square-rig sailors, and never jams.

The old Nordland jaegt which formerly did so much of the coastwise trade of Norway was rigged in a precisely similar manner. Owing to the comparatively large tonnage of the vessel her gear was proportionately heavier. The pole-mast was a very heavy spar, supported by four shrouds on each side, and by topmast stays, backstays, and a stout forestay and fore topmast stay. The sail was reefed by means of bonnets along the foot, four or five deep, so that close reefed it formed a handy little sail. The main halyard had a very powerful purchase which led down to the fore part of the high poop, much as in the Arab bagala of the Indian Ocean. A fore staysail was occasionally used. The most characteristic feature about these high-sailed, broad-beamed old vessels was the stern, which is quite a reminiscence of two centuries ago, and may still be seen in many of the trading-sloops and other small fore-and-afters of the Baltic.

Coming to the southern coasts of Norway, the most characteristic type is the old Hvalor-baad, which is very closely related to the Swedish and Danish Baltic craft, and from which has been developed the modern pilot-boat and the sailing lifeboat (Redningskoite).

•  •  •

The hvalor-baad is the most masculine of boats, and in every way is the direct opposite of his Nordland sister. Bluff, broad, strong, and deep, he will face any weather; he has no good looks to boast of, but is singularly quiet and steady at times when his sister of the north would be cutting capers and looking for the nearest port to leeward. While she is being coaxed and compelled to behave herself by six or seven strong men, the hvalor boat will be standing out to sea with one hand in the tiny cockpit, or having put his pilots into inward-bound ships, will find his way home a hundred miles or more all alone, except for the boy, who appears to be carried rather for sake of company and out of respect for the prejudices of sailor men than for any help he can really give the hvalor boat in getting home.


In common with some of the broad Danish and Swedish craft, this boat has remarkable characteristics. Owing to the great beam, the motion in a seaway is most peculiar; there is a sort of 'I'm not going to be put out or knocked about, or splashed' sort of way of going through a sea, which would reassure the most timid landsman. Easy to handle, quick and light to steer, sure in stays, snug and stiff in a squall, and very fast, this kind of boat is the most comfortable for cruising purposes that I have ever worked.

As will be observed, the rig is very simple, and consists of a stout pole-mast stepped well back in the boat; the somewhat ugly, square-cut Norse spritsail, with peak lower than the throat for mainsail, and a stay foresail, the sheets of both generally travelling on horses.


There is next to no rigging, a single stay on each side with the forestay being all at is required. The mainsail has a rope lacing to the mast, and is set up by hauling out to the spreet end. A three-corner topsail set on a long yard which stands up and down the mast, and a jib set on a running bowsprit, complete the fine-weather outfit.

The hvalor boat does not pose as one of the aristocracy of the sea, but he is one of the sturdy upper classes who do good work in life. No boat has more truly the instincts of the gentleman of good old family, and one can imagine with what satisfaction the old hvalor boats which are still left snub their anchor chains, and chuckle to the ripples lapping about their sides, when they see their big-bodied, handsome-looking offspring, the modern lodsbaad, passing in or out to sea.


The lodsbaad or pilot-boat now built is an improved hvalor-baad. It is an interesting and significant fact that the improvements which have been effected in the lines of these boats, and in their speed and weatherliness, are largely due to a countryman of our own, Mr. Colin Archer, who has long been settled at the little port of Larvik, and who has made an undying name for himself as the designer of Nansen's ship the Fram. Norwegian fishermen owe him a great debt for the manner in which he has devoted himself to the improvement of these classes of vessel.

Following the law of development which is rendered almost universal among types of sailing-boats by the ever-increasing demand for speed and for greater seakeeping capacity, the pilot-boats have increased steadily in size. This, as in the case of the larger Danish boats of the same sort, has necessitated the substitution of the gaff and boom mainsail in place of the old spritsail, the spreet in vessels of such tonnage being a heavy unhandy spar in a rolling sea, involving serious danger in case of the heel becoming unshipped from the grommet.


Main and foresail are the sails usually carried, the jib and topsail being fine-weather adjuncts. The boats carry outside ballast, and are always fully decked. Owing to their roominess they are very comfortable below, and in them their crews can literally face any weather that blows, even in the terrible Skagerak.


Redningskoite *1*

In 1892 a society was formed for saving the lives of shipwrecked mariners. This society has found a wide field for its operations principally among the fishermen on the north and west coasts of Norway, who collect in large numbers during the great cod and herring fisheries, which, as already explained, take place largely in the middle of winter, and in open boats.

The lines given in the accompanying diagrams represent the type of boat which has been found most suitable as a life-saving boat among these fishermen, being remarkably handy, able to stay out at sea in any kind of weather, and powerful for towing smaller boats to shore when caught in a gale off the land.

The society has now built over fifteen of these Skoiter, and there is a constant call among the fishing population for more of them. A Redningskoite is very strongly built. The stem and stern post, outer planking, rudder head, stanchions, combings, and other principal parts are oak. The frames are double, built of grown yellow pine, the floors running across the keel and consisting of the stem and root of the tree. Between each frame is fitted a steamed and bent oak rib which is riveted to the outer planking. They are carvel built. The fastenings of the outer plank to the frames are wooden treenails (juniper) and galvanised iron spikes above water, metal spikes under waterline. Decks 2-inch pine. Inside the frames is worked a water-tight lining from gunwale to the cabin deck, which is likewise watertight and firmly fixed, so that if the outer skin is stove the boat will float on the lining. There are four watertight bulkheads. The cockpit or helmsman's compartment has water-tight floor and sides, and is sometimes furnished with self-clearing pipes leading out-board. The crew consists of four hands.

*1* For the description and lines of these boats I am indebted to Mr. Colin Archer.

The sail plan explains itself. It is designed for strength and handiness. The strongest canvas and best rope and blocks are used. This is of the greatest importance. No instance has occurred of these boats being forced to seek shelter from stress of weather, although they frequently stay out in heavy gales all night and in the middle of winter. The chief danger seems to be the giving way of some part of the gear. *1*

It will be noticed that these boats retain the characteristic shape of the old hvalor boat, but that, in common with so many growing types of the present day, they have, with their increase in size, taken to the handy ketch or dandy or smack rig, as our fishermen variously call it; they have become carvel built; and like the lodsbaad they have adopted the modern speed-giving device of outside ballasts.

*1* The iron keel weighs about 6 tons, and is fastened with 12-14 galvanised iron bolts 14 inch, set up with washers on the keelson. The boat carries about the same weight of iron ballast inside, stowed under the cabin floor. Displacement about 26 tons.

In 1894 I built a half-decked 22-foot boat in Siam, very much, oddly enough, after the lines of the modern redningskoite. In this little craft I travelled long distances in the Gulf of Siam, and I can vouch for the splendid sea-going qualities of such a boat.

It will be noticed that although the ends are well raked, there is no excessive cutaway, and the large proportion of straight heel enables the boat to lie well to the wind and run a steady course, both important points in a sea-going vessel.

Of the larger boats it remains to mention the Bankfiskerskoite. A deck fishing-boat so named has long been used for open-sea fishing off the west coast of Norway. The design sent me by Mr Colin Archer is only one of many models used, each builder having his own style. Several boats have, however, been built of the kind here represented, some of them being considerably smaller, for the Lofoten fisheries, but very much on the same lines, and they have given great satisfaction for seaworthiness, handiness, and good sailing qualities. During the last year or two an evolution towards steam has been going on, and here, probably, as elsewhere, steam power for bank or open-sea fishing will soon be extensively used.


The drawing of the Bankfiskerskoite shows a metal (cast-iron) keel. In fishing-boats this is quite a modern innovation which has not generally been adopted. In pilot-boats it is more common. In a boat of the size represented the cast-iron keel will weigh about 2+ tons, or about one-third of the total ballast. The displacement will be about 17.5 tons. But in these days of keen competition, and of long-distance deep-sea fishing, Norwegian fishermen begin to find they can afford to neglect speed as little as Scotch or English fishermen.

The Seilsjegte *1* is a style of boat used by the fishermen on the south part of the coast. They are open boats with a washboard, and range from 18 to 25 feet in length, 20 feet being the ordinary size.

They are clinker-built, like the Norland boats, sail very well on all points, and are good sea-boats, although like all open boats they require careful handling. For the herring fisheries a somewhat larger boat of a similar type is used. They all carry a three-cornered topsail in addition to the usual fore and mainsails.

*1* Termed snaekke; probably the Norse snekkja, a 'small longship' mentioned in the sagas.

In the neighbourhood of Brevik and Larvik one may see lots of these boats out fishing on fine evenings, for every one living by the waterside, whatever his occupation, owns a boat. Occasionally other rigs are seen, like the one depicted. In Christiania fjord the pleasure-boats are mostly of this type, though some charming modern decked yachts are now in fashion. Clinker-built with three to five wide planks, and wooden treenails, sharp raking stern, and high bow, is the usual type.





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