Elf

Iain Oughtred


Studying the ancient ships and boats of the Norsemen I saw how little these small craft had changed in 1000 years. The high ends of the old boats were less extreme, but otherwise their form and structure was practically unchanged. And the ancestry of the fishing boats of Shetland, Orkney, the northeast and west coasts of Scotland, and the north cast of Ireland, is plain to see.

It may seem sacrilegious to build such a venerable type in plywood; however some traditional boats are being planked in ply in Norway. As well as the practical advantages, there is the difficultly of finding good planking stock of top quality Scots pine or Norway spruce in widths of over 12" (300mm). A plywood boat can be made to look traditional - except for the lack of fastenings. The most significant peculiarity is her size; at 15' (4.57m) she is considerably smaller than most faerings, which are around 18' or 19' (6.0m). This means that the hull can be got out of two 8' (2440mm) lengths of plywood. Because of this, I chose to go for the Hardanger type, rather than the west coast Oselver, which has very long ends, and consequently a short waterline length.

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