Building in tradition.
We are building the legendary traditional preindustrial Northern Norwegian fishing boats, as they were in the days before engines were invented and installed.
This type of boat was in use for more than a thousand years, built by the same methods and principles, but still many improvements and alterations were applied through the centuries.
For several years we have been trained and taught by some of the old masters of the old boat building families, thus we build the boats to the same standards of quality both in regard to the shape of the boat, and in regard to the critical choice of materials. These are the standards that were a necessity in order to survive on the fishing grounds along this coast.
In this way, we are building the boats and honouring the old tradition, keeping the old knowledge alive. Some of these old crafts possess an enormous amount of assembled knowledge, much too important for us to let die.
In our modern days, we cannot allow this type of knowledge to be forgotten. It must be maintained by doing things in the old manner, both building, sailing and fishing.
Types and sizes
The nordlandsboat as a type is quite old. We actually don't exactly know how old. But as long as there has been people along this coast, there have been boats. The oldest surviving boat is around 200 years old.
Geographically, this type of boat has been used along half the Norwegian coastline, which means from Northern Trøndelag in the south, to the Russian border in the north.
The nordlandsboats are built in different sizes, all according to its intended use. They differ in size by the number of `rooms`, space between the frames where you can sit and row. This way of differing between the boat sizes is very old. It is used in the old sagas and old archaeological finds, proving that boats have been built to this understanding for at least 1500 years.
The smallest one, the tororing, is a little boat for one or two persons. It has two rooms where you can row. They were used for small errands, and also for fishing with a hand line close to home. It is usually around 15 feet long.
In this way the size increases, by a room or even half a room, through 3 rooms, 4 rooms etc up to the biggest fishing boat of 7 rooms, around 45 feet long.
The boats of 3 to 5 rooms are mostly handline or longline boats, and the 6 and 7 rooms boats are mostly codnet fishing boats.
Boats from 3 rooms and upwards were used for fisheries far away from home, sometimes they travelled from 100 to 200 nautical miles in order to take part in different fisheries. The Lofoten fishery being the most important. This is a legendary fishery since the Viking age.
One of us is also employed by the University Museum in Tromsø as a boatbuilder, in order to keep the tradition alive, passing on the knowledge to younger boatbuilders. We also do some documentation, which mean that we try to find and study old boats and gear as we find it. Sometimes we also build exact copies of boats that have a special history or some special features that we would like to try. Features that can give us further knowledge of what we are doing.
Even though we have been travelling along the coast for many years, we still find unknown details that we would like to study more.
In this work, we also cooperate with the Viking Ship Museum in Oslo, and the Viking Ship Museum in Roskilde, Denmark.
We also cooperate with other boatbuilders that make similar or other types of boats along the coast.
We follow the boatbuilding process every step on the way. We select each tree from the forest, so that we get the right quality for the keel, strakes, the oars, mast etc. Without the right quality of the trees it is very difficult to give the boat the right qualities. We cut the trees and mill them at home.
Most of the frames are grown trees, or roots. Roots can have the right shape immediately and are much stronger than laminated frames, but the work to dig them up is heavy and tedious.
The rope rigging.
We always use rope in the rigging. No wires are used. And we only use handmade rope, mostly hemp. We also do the spar work, and other details that are required for the rig. We have made rigs for a few Viking ships, and a jekt or cargo carrier of 80 tons.
We also make the sails ourselves. Like the boats, the sails also have to be made for special purposes. Some customers like them like this, and some like that. By making the sails close to the boat, it is easier to make them fit properly.
In order to keep control of most of the process, we do most of the blacksmith work ourselves. Some times we need special nails, or other things like steering gear, hooks to place in the sail etc. We do it ourselves, so that it fits properly to the boat we are building. Even the smallest detail can spoil a boat.
Sometimes we also need a special knife or other iron for a certain task. It is easy to just make it the way we want.