Boat history

For millennium we have built wooden boats in the Nordic countries. In the last two thousand years we have built using clinker method, which means that the plankings overlap each other. A method that was already completed during the Viking era. This method of building boats is now on UNESCO's list of immaterial cultural heritage.

However, the sea in our Nordic countries have very different conditions, ranging from an open ocean with rough sea to more protected waters with archipelago. Then we also have all the rivers and lakes. This has affected the construction of our wooden boats, which have grown through close cooperation between boatbuilders and users. It is therefore not a coincidence that the boat looks like it does. The boats has been used mostly for fishing, but also for transportation and communication.

Different types of wood have been used, but most of the time you used the wood available nearby. Oak have been used to keel, stems and frames, planking often in oak but also in pine. But also other types of wood like spruce, larch, alder, aspen, willow, elm, beech, juniper, birch and others. But never rowan, which means bad luck if used in boats!

Boat builders were a proud family. Knowledge and experience were required, something that you did not always share. In the past, the boats were often built outdoors with simple tools such as ax, saw, planks, hammer, pliers, drills ... but most importantly, the eyes, the head and the hands were. Some drawings were not needed. To bend and turn the boards into its proper shape, the wood burned over open fire, recently "based" with water vapor.

To assemble the tiled boards, you have used a spike of iron, often home-grown nails, but also nails of wood, oak or one. In modern times, copper spikes with rounded round washers have been used.

A wooden boat should be impregnated to avoid rot and wood tarry has been used for a long time, a very good method. Sometimes the boat was painted and then it is raw linseed oil as impregnation.

The shape and appearance of the boats have really varied. Along the coasts, the most commonly used were cold-boats, with keel and fences in front and aft. Some of the stern mirrors, such as the bleach canyon, the small island canyon, the bohusjull and many others. Very common have been flat-bottomed boats, especially in the inland lakes. They were easy to build and it happened that boat builders refused to build them, it was carpentry!

During the 1990s, the State Maritime Museum of Stockholm built the exhibition People and Boats in the Nordic region. There were shown 20 traditional boats from all over the Nordic region, a small number of the 800 different types that were considered to exist.

Throughout the years, paddles, ears and sails have been used to arrive. But around 1900, one started to install engines in the boats. An enormous change because it was a propeller that moved the boat and a heavy iron bump was placed in the middle of the boat. The appearance of the boat hull changed.

But the biggest change occurred in the latter part of the 20th century when new materials such as plastic and aluminum and another use began. The number of wooden boats decreased drastically, and the boat builder became redundant.

In the small bleaching landscape there have been 70 boat buildings in the 20th century. Everything from the one-man company to the large yards with up to 25 employees boat builders who built boats of different types and sizes. It has been estimated that at least 20,000 wooden boats in Blekinge have been built during this period. Nowadays there is only a small rest of the bleaching boat building.

In recent times, however, interest in wooden boats has increased, young people who have grown up in the plastic age have discovered that wood can be manufactured. A wooden boat means a completely different experience.