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Preview: Norwegian Faering at Port Townsend Wooden Boat Festival

October 30, 2015

It’s not easy for a beautiful boat to stand out at a show among 300 other amazing boats, but this Norwegian Faering at the Port Townsend Wooden Boat Festival did just that—it caught our eye and turned our head, big time.

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– The rig is really so simple. You just have these two shrouds and the forestay is a continuous piece, the forestay and one of the shrouds. It’s a simple, easy rig. And then these shroud needles are gonna need a sort of like, original Pelican Hook. That’s a piece of cow horn that we carved… Cut and carved out the center of, just locks it in place. When you’re sailing you usually tighten the leeward shroud while you’re underway, so that… Because you get so much stretch with the hemp under tension. These grommets just go right through the frame. And I’m used to working with hemp. Pre-stretching it, tarring it all. Keep tarring it though, over the summer because it drys out quickly.

– This boat originates in Norway at and Island called Aspoya which means Aspen Island. So these boats were in use for a thousand years all around that island and in that region.

– [Narrator] We see a lot of beautiful boats at the port towns and wooden boat festival every year. The fairing we ran into this year was no exception. The design dates back over a thousand years and is part of the viking legacy that inspires us over and over again. We couldn’t help having to get a closer look.

– Well I have lived in Scandinavia and sailed extensively there on some of these larger viking ships and I wanted one for myself, so I asked Jay to be his apprentice. Ballast bags just have stones in them and they just sit just after the mast. I was really fascinated to learn about the… How they sailed these boats. How they sailed these boats with body weight. You know, changing your center of lateral resistance so that it’s relative to the center of effort by shifting people in the boat fore and aft. We’re used to like moving athwartships, shifting our weight to trim the ship, but actually moving forward to bring the center of lateral resistance forward, so your center of effort comes closer to it, so you can maneuver fall out for head up that way. A stencil boom hitch, it’s really similar to an anchor bend. So you have a round turn and then a single half hitch that goes underneath the round turn, both parts of it, and then you snug it up. And, then, instead of doing another half hitch on top you’d do sort of a weaving over and under, so it comes out here so you’re going over that part and then under the first part of the round turn. And I don’t think it’s very traditional in Norway, but I like it. It’s a good bend. Yeah and then I just like to tuck the tail in.

– And we’ll just take one sec and off we go. If we step back in time 800 years and think about the Middle Ages and what life was like on the fjords in Norway. The geography is so radical, the walls of the fjords are so steep that it was impossible to build roads, so horse and cart was used only on the farm, but not to get from village to village. So the easy way to connect with people was by boat, was to travel on the water. So every farm had two of these, maybe three. Typically a small one like this and then a larger one, maybe 30 footer. Same design that would be used for fishing. This smaller one would have been used to go to market on Saturday or to church on Sunday morning. This was the vehicle for the farm to travel to meet people and communicate with the community. So the plank laps are all riveted, but the framing is trunnel fastened. Any opportunity that they had to fasten with trunnels, they did, because it was free. This crossbeam is natural grown piece of oak. A trunk and a branch that reaches up to the side there and athwartships to this side and then it’s finished with a short knee. The next one is the same, but alternated. So the long member is from portside to starboard and then finished with a short knee on that side. So the alternating through the length of the boat is critical and gives it strength and symmetry. This is the Nookoth so when we see it we don’t…

– [Woman] Yeah.

– The key to the tiller arm. This is a natural crook of locust.

– Yeah the tiller took a little bit of getting used to because it’s a push pull arrangement. It articulates, not only side-to-side, but up and down and then fore and aft. So to move the rudder, you push pull the tiller arm. It sort of feels like sailing with a tiller extension if you’re a dingy sailor. This is the coolest pintle gudgeon arrangement that I’ve ever seen where the gudgeon’s are on the rudder and the pintles are attached to the stem and it’s sort of kept by this top pintle there so the pintle can only pull out so far and there’s its keeper. And then it’s got this really long pintle that holds it from, you know… If you’ve ever had your rudder kind of lift up in a swell and fall off. I know that’s happened to me before, so this, it doesn’t do that and I’ve been out sailing in this boat in quite a bit of swell and it just handles really nicely. This pintle gudgeon arrangement.

– This in Norway is called the pent, which means DTL, a decoration. In English, we would call it a benchmark and it’s the boat builder’s signature. So each boat builder has a plane, which creates that benchmark.

– I’m really struck at how these boats being double-ended and seemingly very symmetrical in shape, are not symmetrical in any way in construction and that you see these garboards being very hollow through here. And these are three piece, three plank per side garboard

– That’s right.

– Is that right? And then the next strake up here… This broad?

– The broad.

– This next strake up. Going from the stern, being a very kind of you know, more what you would think of as a traditional lap. As it runs forward, it comes into that very carved shape in the bow, giving it this kind of amazing forefoot. Very sculptural forefoot and that you have not only the garboards doing that here,

– But the broad.

– But the broads as well, which gives the boat the lift in a seaway.

– And that’s the reason for this broad strake to be carved also forward. The carved garboard capture a pocket of air on both sides and so the boat is actually floating not exclusively on the water, but also on a pocket of air that’s captured underneath and is expelled aft. And so you can see this little row of bubbles that escapes in the wake. And so you know that that’s actually… That’s what’s happening. It’s capturing this pocket of air and then expelling it out. And that reduces the friction, so it makes it an even more efficient vessel. Flowing over the waves and to the water.

– I did not see this coming when we lifted the floorboards the first time. I just had no… I had no idea that that was what was involved in developing the bottom of a traditional fairing like this. You get these kind of double, I would imagine, end on. This is built right side up?

– Yes.

– [Man] Just kind of a couple molds stickered off the ceiling.

– Yeah and eventually we just threw them away.

– Yeah those went in late and they went out early.

– [Man] And then it was just, you know, does it look right?

– [Leah] Yeah.

– [Man] Is the symmetry there? Is the balance good? Is it a fair line? It’s off to the eye. And that’s all one really needs to build this. As long as it agrees with the eye, it’s good.


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