View Full Version : Needed: Plans for a Small, Safe and Light Boat for Fishing

Oyvind Snibsoer
10-15-2000, 05:56 AM
My family has a cabin in the high mountains between Oslo and Bergen, Norway. There are several good fishing lakes in very near vicinity of the cabin. Now I'm looking for a boat to use in these lakes. The specs are perhaps somewhat special.

The ice only breaks up on these lakes in late June, early July, so the water is freezing cold all summer. Also, there are no other boats on the lakes, thus no help can be expected if you capsize. The boat has to be very stable so that the chances of a capsize is minimal. We will also be doing some fishing with nets, so the boat must stable enough for this use, too.

The wind may blow up very quickly, and although the largest lake is not more than 2000 meters across, the boat has to be reasonably seaworthy.

There are waterfalls between the lakes, so we have to port the boat, alternatively put it on a small trolley, to move it between the lakes. The boat should be light. Means of propulsion will mainly be oars, and perhaps sail in addition.

The snow piles up to a depth of up to 10 feet or more in the winter, so the boat has to be stored inside. So must everything else, so we don't have a lot of storage space for the boat alone.

Any suggestions? A small, traditional faering built of spruce would be great, except that we don't have the space to move it inside in the winter.

[This message has been edited by Øyvind Snibsøer (edited 10-15-2000).]

Tom Lathrop
10-15-2000, 08:01 AM
Any boat that meets your on the water requirements seem to run afoul of the storage problem. Does it have to be inside or could it be stored under a small low shelter to protect it from the snow and melt water problem? The portage problem seems to be your next biggest snag.

Could be that there is a knockdown design somewhere that might handle the problems and still be light enough for portage. An outrigger or multihull could perhaps also work. In my experience, a small boat outside becomes a monster when you try to bring it inside.

Considering the remoteness of the location and the conditions of the water, I would not sacrifice the safety requirements to get any of the other atributes.

[This message has been edited by Tom Lathrop (edited 10-15-2000).]

10-15-2000, 08:18 AM
As it happens I'm just about to post some additions to the Booklets page and two new pages on DataSheets and Dream Sheets. On the Dream Sheets page is a sheet for "Wheelie Willie" an 8-foot, box-like boat (very stable therefore) with a wheelbarrow-like wheel on the front for easy moving around. It's 8' long by 3' beam but you can make it anything you like since it's just a box. Made for rowing though of course, not sailing. Would seem to solve your transport and storage problems however. I don't know if I will get the page up today (children's birthday parties, etc.,) but certainly sometime next week. The home page is:

and there will be a link there to the new Dream Sheets page.


10-15-2000, 08:20 AM
Øyvind, how about looking at the "Modified McInnis Bateau" in John Gardeners "More Building Classic Small Craft", (ISBN 0-87742-274-5). It's 12'-8" (3.86m) long w/ a 3'-10" beam (1.17m). Construction is lapstrake plywood (10mm (3/8) on the bottom, 5mm (3/16")) w/ liminated spruce frames. The boat was originally designed for fly fishing in Maine on the inland lakes up there as a replacement for the canoe. It should weight about 75 lbs (30kg). According to John's book, the boat could carry 3 adults, all standing and fishing at the same time (total estimated load 600lbs [~200kg]). It rows and paddles well according to Gardener's book. John's construction method is very straight forward and well detailed in the book with complete plans as well (No lofting required).

10-15-2000, 09:19 AM
It seems to me there are a few designs available off the top of my head. Butterball by R.T. Miller @ 9'6" LOA & 5'6" Beam plywood, rig stows in boat. PK78 by Mertens-Goossens @ 7'10" LOA, 4'8" Beam, 60 lb. 35 sq. ft. sail. Sea Shell 10 @ >shell@together.net< or >www.driftboats.com< or >www.flounderbay.com<

Most under one hundred pounds some near 60 pounds, most rigs stow in boat and a wheeled dragging arrangement could be setup fairly easily.

Good Luck,

Capt. Riccelli

10-15-2000, 09:44 AM
I think your impulse towards the spruce faering is correct; perhaps Iain Oughred's "Elf", which is like those only in plywood might interest you. Or one of the plywood peapods.

If you're going to go to the work to build a boat, adding the task of building a simple, low, A-frame (archs instead of straights for the sides, maybe) shed to store her in shouldn't add that much to the cost. It only has to be large enough to cover her, not for you to work on her. Six feet wide, eighteen feet long, ten feet high, but you might not need to "roof" the bottom two feet of the sides.

Oyvind Snibsoer
10-15-2000, 01:56 PM
Thanks for all your replies so far. I'll check out your suggestions ASAP. I especially like the specs of the McInnis Bateau. Although I'm not a plywood guy, I'm willing to compromise on this one.

The cabin is in a protected area, and there are strict regulations on erecting new structures of any kind. I may not be allowed to build even a small storage shed. And then there's the problem with the snow. The structure would have to be massively dimensioned in order to withstand the weight of perhaps 10 or more feet of wet, melting snow. In addition it would have to be tight against the drifting snow which would otherwise find it's way inside the shelter and pack around the boat. The snow weight is not a problem inside the shelter, but the boat would be lying in wet snow for a 2 month melting period. This could make it rot in only a few years. I do have an opportunity to store the boat under the cabin floor by making a door in the basement wall, but the height is only 3 feet max.

10-15-2000, 06:34 PM
I have this vision of huge trees, and a faering hung vertically by its stem from a branch forty feet from the ground, with a strap amidships holding it to the trunk to keep the wind from blowing it about. Ahh, well.

I was thinking of the old tradition of sinking small boats to protect them from hurricanes, etc; while your lake is fresh water so that won't work, especially for months of winter (and the problem of sinking it deep enough that it didn't get involved with ice) how a slightly different "judo" scheme?

Make a level pile of sand, a couple of inches thick. Put a tarp on it. Put the boat on the tarp, then fold the tarp into the boat. Pack sand tightly around the outside of the boat. Put another tarp inside the boat, fill tightly with sand, heaping it up. Cover all with another tarp. Snow piles on the tarp covered pile of sand, but the pressure in the pile only compresses the wood. The snow eventually melts, runs away under the boat through the sand (maybe a layer of gravel would be better there.)

Under the cabin could be good, if it stayed dry and didn't become a pool. Perhaps with a V-shaped door jam to gain a bit more depth?

I don't know how to calculate how thick an arch laminated of plywood would have to be to hold a ten (and you'd have to calculate it for worst case, twenty?) foot snow load. I was thinking, mostly, that if it was five feet wide and thirty inches deep, it would fit (upside down) under a semi-circle of five feet diameter, which is bit less than eight feet along the arc length. I was thinking of a single molded thing 18 feet long, but you could make it in pieces (say two feet) in two slightly different diameters, so that they'd telescope small big small ... big and you could take it away in pieces in the spring or store it.

There wouldn't be a culvert six or seven feet in diameter nearby that you could moor it in for the winter?

Oyvind Snibsoer
10-16-2000, 06:20 AM
I like the idea of hoisting the boat in a tree http://media4.hypernet.com/~dick/ubb/smile.gif Only problem is, there are absolutely no trees there http://media4.hypernet.com/~dick/ubb/frown.gif The place is way above the tree line.

In addition, the place is only accessible by train for most of the year. And we have to ski 2 miles from the nearest train station. It can be reached by 4WD when the last snow melts on the road. This year that happened 3 weeks ago... Generally, anything that we want to bring with us has to be ported or dragged on a sled to the cabin.

The idea of burying the boat sounds good, too. But the beaches are all rocks, so we'd have a hard time finding the sand.

I could get a rotary-molded thermoplastic boat. But they're awful to row, they're heavy and I certainly don't want one for the most obvious reason. They are reputed to be strong enough to withstand the weight of the snow, though.

Actually, the railway line runs very close. But I don't suppose they'd be too happy about me leaving a boat in one of their tunnels?

[This message has been edited by Øyvind Snibsøer (edited 10-16-2000).]

Tom Lathrop
10-16-2000, 06:51 AM
You are further north than we do our boating. How about sending us the coordinates of the cabin so we can have a look at where you have all your fun. You are probably not bothered by door-to-door peddlers very often. Did you say that the snow finally melts in late September? Are you dealing with all frozen tundra and rock? Maybe a umiak would work and you could harness a couple of reindeer to portage it. BRRRRRR!

10-16-2000, 07:29 AM
I think I'd look seriously at Inuit technology. They had this solved eons ago. The hunters I saw on Baffin Island seemed to know exactly what they were about. You may or may not want to use driftwood and seal skins. Although they'd certainly be Green. Doped dacron would work, but when it's worn out the dogs won't want to eat it for you.

[This message has been edited by TomRobb (edited 10-16-2000).]

Ian McColgin
10-16-2000, 08:43 AM
I think Tom's on the track I'd take, fabric covered or ply or stripper. Lots'a choises.

But two thoughts if you do.
- Practice rolling in a swimming pool someplace and give yourself a tune up before going north; and
- Keep some kind of head protection - fleece and gortex or neoprene if you don't mind the discomfort.

I had a friend, good kayaker, who was found dead upsidedown in his 'yak one spring day up at Spirit Lake, NH. It had been hot in the air, though the water was just barely 32 - some ice left - and he had no head protection. He probably did a deliberate roll out of shere exuberance but the cold shock to his head blacked him out. There was no water in his lungs. Death was by hypothermia.

With good gear, however, rolling in cold water is safely exhilarating.

I've done ocean, lake and river fishing from various kayaks and it's great. Just get a stabile unit that still can be rolled back up. Some cruising designs are so stabile upside down that they take real muscle to right, but you don't want the ultra-skinny English commando style either. You can even create a rod holder just ahead of the cockpit for trolling.


Don Maurer
10-17-2000, 10:49 AM
You should be able to leave the boat outside if you prop it up upside down and let the inside fill with snow. Be sure to tie it down. Wind will be a bigger problem than the snow, IMHO.

10-17-2000, 10:54 PM
Above the tree line? Oh my. Well, that explains why they don't want you building, and the access problems.

I'm inclined to think that putting it under the cabin is probably the best plan. Many small boats will fit (not happily) into a 3' high space, if you have it available.

Is there some native-people enclosure that would be appropriate to build, that the authorities might allow as an example of such construction, even if it was used to house a boat?

Andreas Jordahl Rhude
10-18-2000, 11:09 AM
Ah, Norge, mit kjaere norge! Lenge har det vaert at jeg besokte landet av forfedrene mine!

Ligger hytte i Hardangervidda omraade?

Andreas Jordahl Rhude (Ruudsberghaugen) i Minneapolis

Dave R
10-18-2000, 11:56 AM
Øyvind, I can picture your cabin and that lake. I travelled on the train from Bergen to Oslo in mid-July this past summer and clearly remember the cabins and those lakes and there was indeed still snow up there. It was beautiful. http://www.geocities.com/Yosemite/6139/Finse/finse82.jpg
Do you thinked they'd notice a boat in one of the tunnels or avalanche sheds? Where along the line are you? Are you near Finse?

[This message has been edited by Dave R (edited 10-18-2000).]

[This message has been edited by Dave R (edited 10-18-2000).]

Oyvind Snibsoer
10-19-2000, 04:56 AM

Great pictures!
Our cabin, or cabins (we have two, located 10' apart) are about 15km west of Finse. The oldest one was built in stone as a surveyor's cabin in 1893 when work commenced on the Oslo-Bergen railroad. It was later used for lodging a working crew until the completion in 1907, and later for maintenance crews. It was owned by the Norw. State Railways until my father bought it from them five years ago. The walls are 3' thick stone walls and the roof has shale slabs. It's very similar to the one in the top picture and is in remarkably good shape, having seen very little maintenance, except for some interior paint jobs, since it was built. The newest one was built in 1946. It will be torn down and replaced with a new cabin next summer because of rot. The plans are already approved, but unfortunately without a boat storage space of any significant size. Having the plans changed now is not an option.

The setting is very similar to the one in the top picture, only the mountains are a little steeper further west. Also, this picture is from the east side of the watershed, while we're on the west side. But it's in the same valley. The glacier in the background is the Hardangerjøkul glacier, the 4th or 5th largest in Norway. As you can see, no trees!

Incidentally, we celebrated our wedding and baptized our son at Finse, in the bottom picture, in mid-March this year. The party was held at the hotel which is in the dark mass of buildings on the small peninsula in the middle of the picture. The ceremony was held in the chapel, which is in the white two-story building in the very left of the picture. We skied to the chapel, and were brought by dogsled back to the hotel after the ceremony. I have some very fond memories of this place!

Your Norwegian is very good! The place could be considered to be on the boundary between the Hardangervidda and the Aurlandsfjella/Langfjella regions. There's a local flock of around 1000 reindeer in the region. Perhaps I'll apply for a hunting permit to bag me one or two of these next year. Served in a sauce with sour cream and juniper berries...Yummie!

[This message has been edited by Øyvind Snibsøer (edited 10-19-2000).]

Todd Bradshaw
10-19-2000, 05:57 PM
Beautiful place! I'm afraid that the closest I have ever gotten to being in Norway is standing atop a pair of Asnes TurLangrens. But it's on the list - next time you throw a party we'll all come!
As far as the boat goes, I almost hate to mention it here, but the first thing that came to mind for super-stable, seaworthy boats that store in small places was something along the lines of an Avon Rover inflatable. They don't row terribly well, but it can be done and you can stick two of them in an average closet (if your wife lets you - which is another story altogether). I think my 12 footer weighs about 120 pounds, which isn't great for portaging but we've managed it a few times. There are also some interesting cata-rafts out there with inflatable pontoons, aluminum tube frames and oarlocks. They use them out west for salmon fishing and whitewater. Neither boat would ever even approach the beauty of a faering, but they are practical and pretty hard to break.
I've always wondered about trying to build a hybrid faering/umiak - essentially a boat along the lines of a three or four plank faering with an fairly substantial keel piece, frames, stringers, gunwales and fabric skin. Kind of a "The Sons of Norway meet the Klepper Family" boat. At this rate, I should have time to draw it out in about 2046, so if anybody else wants to grab the ball and run with it, do so and let me know if it works.