In amongst the steep mountain sides lining the Sognefjord, boats were in some places the only sensible way to get around. Even where the land was traversable for people, it was much easier to use the fjord as a road, whether you were transporting people, animals or goods. The museum contains examples of all the common Sogn boats, from the færing, which remained the most common, to the storebåt – a small jekt.
The sognebåt is a small fjord vessel, easy to row and bring ashore. The færing was the most common variant. It sailed using two pairs of oars. A sognebåt could also be rigged with sails, by using the same kind of square rigs as the old Viking ships.
The exhibition has a færing, an åttæring and a føringsbåt sitting next to each other. These utility boats, blackened by tar, were used by farmers, fishermen and crofters alike, when transporting people, animals, feed and other goods.
The Skåsheim Boat
The most imposing boat in the collection is the Skåsheim Boat, a square-rigged transport vessel similar to a jekt, only smaller. The boat was built around 1840 at the Indre Slinde farm in Sogndal, and was later sold to Skåsheim in Balestrand. It was built by Ole Andersen Nybø from Leikanger, a legendary boat builder, also known as Gamle-Risen.
It was a transport vessel similar in construction to the jekt, but with a smaller frame.
The jekts were responsible for bringing goods between here and Bergen, while the storebåt vessels mainly operated within the fjords themselves.
The Skåsheim Boat is 10.44 meters long and 3.33 meters wide. It usually had a crew of two, and in favourable wind conditions it could reach speeds of 8-9 knots.
The collection has several stately passenger boats, all belonging to officers, estate owners or other prominent individuals. These are all veng boats (veng = enclosed cabin), painted white and decorated with flags and colours. Passengers sat in the cabins towards the back of the boats. One of the passenger boats belonged to Adjutant General Ole Elias Holck (1774-1842), who one of the representatives at the Eidsvoll assembly i 1814. He probably used this boat to reach the innermost part of Sognefjorden on his way to Eidsvoll.
One of the boats has a flat bottom with iron clad runners. It’s an iceboat – half boat, half sled. For a long time, the fjord remained the only available road, and the iceboat was a creative way to cross it when the ice was unstable. This boat was used for trips between Flåm and Aurland.
Foto: Espen Mills