Thursday, 29 October 2009

Finnish church boats


In the old days, farmers in remote areas of Finland had to row to get to church. Communities would get together to build a boat, each person contributing either money or work to hire a boatbuilder, fell a load of spruce, pine and larch and get the boat together in the spring for use in the summer.
The average church boat was 12m long with 14 rowers, but some were monsters and carried 40 rowers.
On the return trip, boats would race, a tradition still carried on today. Mind you, I have read that the women would row on the way back, because the men would be too drunk to swing an oar.
This picture of an old Finnish church boat at Lappajarvi comes from Barbara Yarusso's Flickr photostream.
There is an excellent history of church boats here.

2 comments:

michael bogoger said...

Chris,
There's nothing wrong with the shear of this lovely boat! Never thought I had any Scandinavian blood, but these boats speak to me.
And how about the foundation of the building over it?

ChrisP said...

The old boats have a lovely sheer, which makes the rather unpleasant shape of the new boats even more jarring. It's a pity - one of the reasons why Cornish Pilot Gigs are so popular is that they are still exactly the same as they were in the 19th century, retainining their beautiful shape.