Ann LK 15, 1899, built by Laurence Goodlad, Lerwick.

So, these drawings were completed quite some time ago now! Better late than never I guess!


3 thoughts on “Ann LK 15, 1899, built by Laurence Goodlad, Lerwick.

  1. Dear Mark: you have a wonderful and informative site! Best of luck on your dissertation. Back around 1979-80, I had the pleasure of building a Faeroese Fyramannafar (4-man/ 6-oared boat). My design and plans were based on a boat built in Seattle by Niklas Koltri of Torshavn, for our bi-centennial in 1976. Photos and patterns were kindly supplied to me by Paul Schweiss, of Tacoma, Washington, who had procured lumber and supplies for Mr. Koltri’s visit. It took him about three weeks to build his boat–I believe he’d built several hundred in his 80-some years, so I figured it might take me twice that long. It ended up taking me two years, with time out for commercial fishing in the summers. I’m struck by the many similarities in features and structure between Faeroese and Shetland boats, shown on your site, which you no doubt are more attuned to than me, such as the rising garboard, the keip for oars, the shape of the oars themselves, a similar number of strakes between the Faeroes and Shetland–more strakes than is usual in most parts of Norway, based, perhaps on the lack of suitable planking (?). One difference I noted in one of your photos is the method of scarfing the stem. In the Faeroes, at least on the boat I had to work from, the scarf was cut vertically through the stem, while in the photo I saw on your site for the section “Documenting Spindrift”, 8/10/2015, it appears the scarf was cut horizontally through the stock, unless I’m misinterpreting a break in short grain for a scarf joint. My boat is now in Seattle at the Center for Wooden Boats and I’m in Wasilla, Alaska, or I’d send photos. Hard to describe…. I have a couple of questions for you, which I’ll completely understand if you don’t have time to answer given the pressure of your dissertation: One question for me, for nearly the last 40 years, has been: if Faeroes boats, as well as those in Shetland, were imported, either flat, in kit form, or whole, directly from Norway, why are there such stylistic differences between the boats of these three lands? Granted, there are regions in Norway that produced fairly similar boats, such as in SW Norway (Rogaland, Hordaland and Sogn), but never-the-less enough differences in shape have evolved so each region has its own distinctive styles, different enough one from the other that no knowledgeable person would mistake a Faeroese boat for a Shetland boat, or for that matter a Norwegian boat. If boats were imported from Norway, does that mean the Norwegians were building to the requests of customers in these respective islands? Or were boats imported initially–way back in the 9th and 10th century–and then gradually local building traditions evolved, importing eventually only timber and hardware but building to their own designs? I’m hoping you have more insight into this than I have–information on the subject of Norse derived boats in Alaska is pretty hard to come by. A second question: In a number of your photos boats are shown with lines stretched cross-ways, and held vertical by plumb bobs. I’m assuming that this set-up is for taking off the lines. It seems a simple way to do so, and I wonder if you would mind describing the process of your method in a little detail? Do you take the lines from outside or inside the planking? I’ve taken the lines off an early 20th century Arctic whaleboat, though the method I used seemed much more involved in setting up a temporary framework along the hull. Again, thank you for such an interesting site and best of luck with your work.
    John Breiby, Wasilla, Alaska, USA

    1. Hi John,

      Many thanks for your kind words. Yes, you are correct there is a lot of variance between the parent Norwegian boat imports and subsequent boat development in Faroe and Shetland. I am unable to comment much about Faroe, the person to help there would be Anders Mortenson. In terms of Shetland I am inclined to think that there were other influences; a lot of Shetland men found themselves press ganged into the Navy in the 18th and early 19th centuries. As well as serving in the Royal Navy many men went whaling in Greenland and cod fishing to Faroe, and also served in the merchant navy travelling around the world. So, I think they brought back with them boat building influences from elsewhere. Certainly Lerwick in the 1900s had boat builders from Scotland, and Shetland lads who were apprenticed in Scotland, and there were folk who had been in the USA too. It is also becoming more apparent that boat experimentation was taking place in the late 18th century, with boats in boards form Norway being adapted to suit local conditions and changes in fishing practice. It seems that the Norwegian boat building traditions that existed were quickly replaced when this boat trade finally ceased c.1870. There are one or two boats from the 1880’s that still have some interesting Norwegian influences and other boats with echoes of west Norwegian boat building practice. But, I think the boat building here was eclectic. The certain thing is that the development of Shetland’s vernacular boats was more complicated than has been previously thought.

      In terms of taking the lines off of these boats the measurements are all taken to the inside of the planking, outer edge of each strake landing. There is a top string which is the datum that runs fore and aft stem to stem, which is levelled as the aft-stem tends to be slightly shorter than the fore-stem. Then each band (frame) is a station where the cross sections are measured. The sheer is determined by measuring from the top string down to the lower string at each station and the keel is determined by then measuring down to it. The shape of the outer stems is obtained by hanging a plumb bob to get a vertical and then fixing a tape to the stem, then with a rule with a spirit level on measuring in to the planking edge, then measuring to the outer stem edge. The inner stem is also straight forward to measure and involves measuring down from the datum string to each plank hood end. I hope this is helpful, please feel free to ask more questions, and I will endeavour to try and answer them as promptly as possible.

      Cheers for now.

      1. Hi Marc,

        Apologies for taking so long to get back to you, to thank you for your kind and in-depth response. I’m doing a paver project and managed to drive a level-line stake into my phone/internet line (oops!), so had to wait to answer until that was fixed. Then when I was writing you this morning in the “response” field, and tried to go back to your blog to check on something you’d written, my writing up until then disappeared.

        Your description on how you take lines off is concise, clear and so simple it’s amazing! One of those light bulbs went off in your head: “Now why didn’t I think of that!” In the past, when I’ve had opportunities to take lines off I’ve always struggled with cumbersome framework; next time will be easier thanks to your explanation.

        What you have said about the outside influences on Shetland boats makes perfect sense, how Shetland men travelled abroad, gaining experience in other traditions and other hull shapes, apprenticing elsewhere as well as some Scottish builders working in Shetland. When exposed to other cultures some traits from those cultures will be adopted, after all.

        But something you said about Shetland boats puzzles me: “It seems that the Norwegian boat building traditions that existed were quickly replaced when this boat trade finally ceased c.1870.” Maybe I’m misunderstanding your statement and you are speaking instead about the evolution of their hull shapes, or perhaps of other, newer boats than the ones shown, rather than their construction techniques and features as shown in your blog? From what is shown on your drawings and photos of the boats, it seems like most of the construction features would still be recognizable in Norway as having very definite Norwegian ancestry. Using the example from your “Spindrift Analysis,” which you so nicely de-construct, most features from the keel on up seem quite traditionally Norwegian: Although the keel in this example has a nailed-on hog – not typical, nor is the lack of hollow on its top usual – the cross sectional shape minus any rebate creates a “hals”/garboard that requires a bevel on the lower edge of the “hals,” which does seem traditional. The stem also shows no rebate, thus requiring beveling the hood ends of the planking. The bands also seem typically Norwegian in construction cross-section, and are also not fastened to the keel just as in traditional construction. Just the existence of “bands,” spaced a room apart, instead of closely space steam bent frames, speaks Norway. Many of your drawings show the diagonally installed frames, or bands at bow and stern, noted variously as “fram- or bakrongi” or “fram- or bakfotstove” in “Inshore Craft of Norway” (B. & Ø. Faerøyvik, Arne E. Christensen, ed. 1979). Planking is scarfed typically, as opposed to using butt blocking, common in some other traditions. You mention at least one boat, the “Brothers,” as having beading molded into the strakes using a “strek høvel.” One Norwegian feature seemingly absent is axe-hewn hollowed garboards/hals (unless I’m mis-interpreting your drawings), so typical of many Norwegian craft–understandable if Shetland boats evolved out of the practice of re-assembling boats imported in board. But by and large, it would seem that all of the boats you show would blend in well in the Norsk Sjøfarts Museet in Oslo. You know all of this better than I, and certainly I mean no disrespect to you on your very thorough study of Shetland boats; I list these features only because I think I must somehow be misunderstanding the meaning of your statement, “…the Norwegian traditions were quickly replaced.”

        You give several examples where frames or stems were cracked because of short grain, understandable if it was necessary to use straight-grained sawn lumber to create curved pieces, if curved stock wasn’t available. Here in Alaska, Aleut, Yupiit and Inupiat (Inuit) people traditionally gathered driftwood from the beach, prizing the grown knees for qayaq and umiaq construction, amongst other uses. Of course, it sometimes took them a year or more to gather enough material to build their boats from driftwood. Did builders in Shetland, which I understand is also treeless, also make use of driftwood knees for band and stem construction, etc., if they could find this material?

        Was the planking fastened to the bands with tree-nails or with nails?

        And were the boats built without molds, by using shores from a central beam, “by eye,” as they were in Western Norway, or were molds or a “shadow mold” used, as practiced elsewhere in the British Isles?

        So many questions, but your subject is fascinating. There is not much opportunity here in Alaska, home of fiberglass and aluminum boats, to discuss the subject of traditional wooden boats. Thanks again for your kind response to my last message.

        John Breiby

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