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Thread: Finnish Ice Pram type?

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    Default Finnish Ice Pram type?

    Whilst looking for something entirely different, this video came up and i watched it. At the 6 minute in mark, there is an ice pram type boat being launched and sailed, and looking very much like a pre-runner of the latest mini-transat scows.

    Any Finnish or otherwise members might point me in the direction of more information on this type? I do have drawings of a small "ice pram" that is similar to the tender they are using, but have not seen a pram of this size, if indeed it can be called a pram? Link to video:

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_2i-FOS7lHA

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    Default Re: Finnish Ice Pram type?

    Didn't watch much due to crappy internet at home.
    But, similar boats were used all over the northern baltic sea, mostly for hunting seals.
    I believe Föreningen Allmogebåtars magazine Träbiten has written a bit on them, perhaps 10 years ago (cannot check due to reasons).
    Also, there is a fairly resent book called Båtar i norr that may have some information.

    /Mats

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    Default Re: Finnish Ice Pram type?

    Båtdokgruppen may also have something...
    https://batdok.com/produkt/folkligt-...ovre-norrland/

    /Mats

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    Default Re: Finnish Ice Pram type?

    Evald Geust was an aquintance of an aquintance or something like that.

    The type of boat is called "fälbåt" pronounced fäälboåt in our local dialect of Swedish. The small boat they have in tow is a fäljulla pronounced fääljolla.
    The seal hunt is called fäälon in our dialect.
    The Finns never hunted seal this way nor built theese boats. It was enirely a business for the Swedish minority on the coast of Österbotten in Finland and to a lesser deghree the Swedes in Västerbotten and Norrbotten. The boats from Norrbotten had a pecuilar shape with small transom above water.

    A new fälbåt called Monäspasset was built in Monäs some years ago. They say it was patterned on a boat from Replot.
    There are three boats of this type in Kvarkens Båtmuseum in Malax http://museum.malax.fi/index-filer/Page679.html.
    In Österbottens Museum in Vasa there is also a fälbåt but those city people are totally incompetent and have fitted it out incorrectly. https://www.vaasa.fi/sv/servicestall...bottens-museum
    Quite a few are kept in private boat sheds and in village museums which are rarely open all along the coast of Österbotten.

    In Sweden they quit sealhunting a generation or two earlier and much fewer boats are preserved there and hardly anyone remember how it was done. There is a fälbåt in Västerbottens Museum at Gammlia in Umeå https://www.vbm.se/ and I heard a rumour that there is one in Holmöns Båtmuseumhttp://holmonsbatmuseum.se/basutstallningar/. There is one in Piteå Båtmuseumhttp://www.piteabatmuseum.se/412067216

    The boat in the film looks like a four man boat. The biggest ones were at least 8 men boats but as seal hunting became less profitable fewer men went "i fäälon" and the boats got smaller over time. Up to the 1910-s they were all rigged with a single square sail which in older days also was used as "tjield" that is the tent the men slept under in the boat. Then in a few years everybody rerigged their boats with gunther rigs becuse they could go to winward more efficiently with the new rig.

    The outside of the boat was always tarred with thick pine tar and then the fresh tar was strewn with sand to give some protection against the ice.
    The edges of each strake on the forward half of the boat was protected by a "siidraag" a split young spruce tree.
    The bow worked just like a modern icebreaker. They say it was possible to sail in two inches of ice without damage to the boat as the bow pressed down the ice.
    The boats were always built from spruce. Planked freehand without drawings. Some old ones had "vindor" in the stern. Those were short twisted planks split and hewn to shape from twisted logs used to forn the sharp hull shape aft.
    Under the keel was a thick false keel celled "fåot". They say that generations ago when they had no iron shoe under the keel they wore out a fåot every season when hauling the boat over the ice.

    Men from Österbotten often went sealhunting as far away as Finngrundsbankarna off Gävle and the waters north of Åland. They also went as far north as the islands off Haparanda. Following the seals and suitable ice conditions. Until the mid 19th century they also used the fälbåt for transporting local produce to Stockholm.

    A few links:
    http://www.bergo.nu/falbat/fael.htm
    On this page to the right is a scetch of a square rigged fälbåt with the old rig http://www.netikka.net/stjernberg/Allmogebatar_1.html
    https://www.finna.fi/Record/sls.SLS%...chyTree?lng=sv
    https://www.finna.fi/Record/sls.SLS+...%2Bb&lng=en-gb
    https://www.finna.fi/Record/sls.SLS+...405%2Bb&lng=sv
    https://www.facebook.com/SvenskaOste...type=3&theater
    Amateur living on the western coast of Finland

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    Default Re: Finnish Ice Pram type?

    Yes, "fäl", I couldn't recall that alternative spelling of "säl". There is also "själ", but as far as I can remember the most common name of the boats is as said "fälbåt".

    /Mats

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    Default Re: Finnish Ice Pram type?

    More links:
    https://digitaltmuseum.org/011014420...-obbola-falbat
    http://www.cafekajutan.se/sv/bilder/...ng-av-waga.htm
    http://www.bergo.nu/fardman/bilder.htm

    There are a few books on the subject in Swedish:
    Färdmän Från Isarna by Jan Sundfeldt. He took part in one of the last traditional seal hunts and wrote about it.
    Västerbotten issue number 4 1990. Published by Västerbottens Museum
    Västerbotten issue number 2 1971. Published by Västerbottens Museum
    Evald Geust's memoirs are published but I don't remember the name of the book.
    Henry Fagerudd's memoirs whose title I cannot rembember.
    I Fälan by Biger Masalin. First published in 1933 but a facsimile was republished by Malax Museiförening and it should still be in print. A must read on this subject.
    Amateur living on the western coast of Finland

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    Default Re: Finnish Ice Pram type?

    Quote Originally Posted by mohsart View Post
    Yes, "fäl", I couldn't recall that alternative spelling of "säl". There is also "själ", but as far as I can remember the most common name of the boats is as said "fälbåt".

    /Mats
    No
    Fäl......fälas...... travel is what it means in English......."färdas" heter det på din svenska.

    Själ is our word for seal. It was standard Swedish back in the days of Gustaf Wasa but your language has changed.
    Amateur living on the western coast of Finland

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    Default Re: Finnish Ice Pram type?

    I'm impressed by your knowlege, and even though I've seen it explained the way I wrote in a couple of books I believe you.
    There's nothing like a Finnish-Swede to know of old Swedish.

    /Mats

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    Default Re: Finnish Ice Pram type?

    Or maybe we have just started to missunderstand the word "fäl-" because of it's similarity to a word in everyday use.

    "Fäälas" betyder som sagt att färdas. He ji nåo braa ti fäälas å skoåd åkring si. Det är nog bra att färdas och se sig omkring.
    En "fääl" kan också vara ett fotspår. Tu siir nåo åm he ji miin fäälar för ja har ti största fyötrin i byyin. Du ser nog om det är mina fotspår för jag har de största fötterna i byn.

    I double long vowels because we have a different system for long and short vowels than they have in most of Sweden. We still have the old prounciation of short u which sounds like modern o so I use o for everything that sounds like o and å for anything that sounds like å. There is no spelling standard for this dialect of ours but this is the most common way of doing it.
    Amateur living on the western coast of Finland

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    Default Re: Finnish Ice Pram type?

    An original fäljulle for sale. The price is 150 euros which equals 1500 kronor. The seller does apparently not know what it is:

    https://www.findit.fi/sv/1419799.htm

    Sheathed in fiberglass and probably rotten but still good enough to use as mould for a new fiberglass build or to use as pattern for a new wooden boat.
    A worthy next project for mohsart?
    Amateur living on the western coast of Finland

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    Default Re: Finnish Ice Pram type?

    Seems to me to be more worthy for you. Or Skaraborgcraft!
    Although I have a tiny bit of knowlege of theese boats they are not the kind of boats that interests me the most.
    My next boat will most likely be a Jaktkanot, but who knows when I'll get the time for that...

    /Mats

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    Default Re: Finnish Ice Pram type?

    Woodenboat Forum rocks again! Thanks chaps. Lots of good information and links to follow up on. I have crossed to Aland on the ferry when its been ice covered, hard to comprehend the entire gulf frozen to the North.
    The Eka for sale is not my cup of tea. I have plans for a small Ice Eka from Denmark, but not seen anything bigger. Moshart i have Batar in Bohuslan, and have been keeping an eye out for the other editions, an excellent resource book. Thanks again.

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    Default Re: Finnish Ice Pram type?

    The boat for sale isn't a fälbåt. It is a fäljulle. The small boat they are towing behind. Some 14 or 15 feet long I guess.

    If I only had some more time and money I would drag it home and see what I can make from it.
    Now I already have a boat project. A fiberglass hull which was built using a tradituional fishing boat as mould and now the fiberglass boat is itself old enough to need a rebuild. Spreding my little time and money over two projects would be a fooproof guarantee than none of them would ever result in a usable boat.
    Amateur living on the western coast of Finland

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    Default Re: Finnish Ice Pram type?

    Interesting to see the boat carried in the bigger one from the book cover from Mosharts link

    https://batdok.com/produkt/folkligt-...ovre-norrland/

    Is just like the one for sale.

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    Default Re: Finnish Ice Pram type?

    Im on my lunch break and just managed to try some of those links Heimlaga, i reckon im in for a late night........thanks!

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    Default Re: Finnish Ice Pram type?

    Quote Originally Posted by skaraborgcraft View Post
    Interesting to see the boat carried in the bigger one from the book cover from Mosharts link

    https://batdok.com/produkt/folkligt-...ovre-norrland/

    Is just like the one for sale.
    That was a very common way of transporting a fäljulle when sailing or rowing a fälbåt longer distances in open water. Some carried it right way up and some did it upside down but very often across the gunwales of the fälbåt.
    They built fäljullar in various sizes.
    -Smaller fäljullar were built to be caried in the fälbåt so they were often built roughly as long as the beam of the fälbåt with "stjiibåol" (removable washboards) in place.
    -Larger fäljullar a couple of feet longer. They were often used by men called "heimspringar" who didn't take part in offshore sealhunt but just took a week or two off at the height of the sealing season just before the start of the farming season. They set up base camp in a fishing hut on one of the outermost islands and took day trips from there in the fäljulle to shoot a few seals for household needs. Every fisherman needed sealskin to make waterproof winter boots and every husehold needed seal oil to smear shoes and boots. Seal oil was also used as a lubricant for machinery and as an additive in house paint.


    The type of fäljulle we know with a steam bent bottom plank and two runners is rumoured to be invented in the 1850-ies by Jonas Nyback from Bergö. The old type was otherwise similar but built with keel and stem and sternpost. The new type stood upright on it's own two runners and was therefore easier to handle on the ice. In Österbotten the new type quickly took over. In Västerbotten some "fälmän" stuck to the old type well into the 20th century.

    I am filling out with more facts as I come to think of them......... should I keep going?
    Last edited by heimlaga; 05-23-2019 at 01:46 PM.
    Amateur living on the western coast of Finland

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    Default Re: Finnish Ice Pram type?

    Quote Originally Posted by heimlaga View Post



    I am filling out with more facts as I come to think of them......... should I keep going?
    Please do, its not just the boats, but the history behind them, the thoughts, purpose and people who used them. Some lovely old photos online. I think its safe to say a fälbåt will be added to the model list. I found some pictures of a 12m example with a large diesel. Seal oil in paint.....learn something new everyday!

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    Default Re: Finnish Ice Pram type?

    A fälbåt with a big diesel soulds like a modern conversion for use on open water only. In it's traditional use you want the boat to be as light as possible. The few motorized ones that were built at the very end of traditional sealhunting usually had an 8hp or sometimes only a 4hp Bernard air cooled inboard motor. The Bernard was immune to frost cracks as it was air cooled and with it's aluminium block it was the lightest inboard motors on the market in the 1950-ies.
    In fact there was at least one outboard powered very small fälbåt or maybe it should be called oversize fäljulle built right at the very end. My uncle built it. Approximately 1962. I think the customer used it for one season before he gave up sealhunting for good.
    Another contraption used by a few hunters the very last seasons in the 1960-ies was a sort of small crawler tractor which was steered by a man walking in front of it. Powered by a 4 hp Bernard motor. The rear end could be built from a Moskwich rear axle which was shortened to make the tractor narrow enough to be stowed inside the bow of the fälbåt when going across open water. It was used to haul the fälbåt across the ice at a stage when the remaining hunters were too few to make up a full crew so they couldn't haul the boat manually anymore.
    However....... now we are talking about the last few years before the end of a many centuries old and in older times rather profitable hunt.

    To understand who crewed the boats one must know what society in Österbotten and on the coast of Västerbotten and Norrbotten is like.
    In this region the land is and has pretty much always been owned by the farmers (though logging companies have grabbed some th the last century). Farms were small and crops were grown on a small scale for local needs. In Västerbotten and Norrbotten because of the barren soil. In Österbotten because our very fertile clay soil was very labour intensive and in many places totally impossible to plough before iron ploughs became affordable and before affordable rolled steel shovels enabled people to drain the soil properly. This happened at the turn of the 20th century. The surplus one could get from farming and turn into money came from the animals. Butter and hides and saltpeter. The communications were too bad to allow for meat export.
    From the 18th century and onwards the landless class grew on land owned by farmers but there was never much of a class divide. The wealthiest tenant farmers were wealthier than the poorest land owning farmers. The wealthiest day labourers were as well off as the poorest land owning farmers. Few were too poor to feed a cow and even the poorest day labourers had tenure on some small fields hacked out of a rocky hillside where they grew what they could.
    In this rather egalitarian subsistence farming society there was of cause a need for incomes from other sources. Everybody has some sort of side business going on. Either a craft for the local market or a production of goods for export.
    In landbound villages they hunted furs and logged ship timbers and burned pine tar for export to Stockholm and further to the rest of Europe(hence the English word Stockholm tar). In coastal villages they fished and built ships and traded and hunted seals.

    Nobody knows when this commercial seal hunt started and who invented it. The sealhunting terminology contains surprisinly many loan words from Sámigiella, the language of the nomadic Sámi reindeer herders and hunters in the north. A good guess is that some Sámi took part together with the Swedes in the beginning of commercial seal hunting. When that happened is hard to say but in the 15th century the trade was already flourishing. Before that time there are very few written records from this region and practically none about such everyday things as seal hunting and trade in seal oil but archeologists find seal harpoons from many centuries before.
    Last edited by heimlaga; 05-24-2019 at 05:00 PM.
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    Default Re: Finnish Ice Pram type?

    The Sammi connection would not surprise me. I have a friend who grandparents moved South, to Kiruna, far from the typically thought Swedish blonde with blue eyes, she is dark hair and eyes. She is very skilled with a knife, and can skin most things, from a fish to a moose,something she says she picked up from her granny.
    In one of the links, it mentioned that the boat could break its way through 2 in of ice, and that a modern boat would need 300hp to do the same job. There must have been a trade off between the strength of the vessel, and making a choice of easily handled on the ice, or heavier to break it. I noticed in the first video when the guy was jumping in, the movement of the boat, and i realized it must have been quite light, for its size.







    I didnt realize till now, its the same manufacturer that does the single cylinder diesels that have been fitted in many Flobarts in France, and have a good reputation.
    I can only imagine farming so far North is and was a tough existence, made only slightly easier with todays tech. I heard logging companies, and others, were buying up old houses that had forested land, and just clear cutting it and leaving the house abandoned. I was tempted myself to a move North to manage a forested property, but this body is past its prime and does not function that well in the cold......or months of no sunshine in winter.

    Given the draft aft with a deeper body, would ballast ever have been used? I could see it would be handy in "icebreaker" mode, but not good for hauling out onto ice.


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    Default Re: Finnish Ice Pram type?

    No there was never any ballast. Only the load of men and provisions and hunting gear and riffles and munition and cooking gear and materials for emergency repairs and the tent and the fäljulla and the skins and blubber from the seals they had shot so far......and in older times a big cast iron kettle used as fireplace and some firewood..... and a small wooden cask of home made vodka with a very very small hole.
    You had to work very hard to suck a small mouthful of vodka through the hole. A way of ensuring that nobody got dangerously drunk on the ice.

    With a good wind a fälbåt is said to sail in two inches of ice by gliding up onto it and crushing it with it's weight just like a modern icebreaker.

    Until the first world war opened up a supply of illegal Mauser repeating riffles seal hunters used locally made muzzle loader riffles with huge calliber hand forged barrels. Older ones had locally made flintlocks and later ones had percussion locks scavenged from Russian army smooth bore muskets that were sold off cheap after the end of the Crimean war whan the Russian army to their surprise had found out that other armies used riffles.
    It is said that long ago people used harpoons in the seal hunt and iron harpoon tips are common archeological finds.
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    Default Re: Finnish Ice Pram type?

    More pictures:
    https://samlingar.skellefteamuseum.s...C3%A4lb%C3%A5t

    When a sealing crew left home they "raita" that is they got transport help from other villagers and their horses as far out to sea as the ice was considered safe for horses and sleds. The fälbåt was transported on a large sled drawn by one or two horses depending on the size of the boat and all other equipment was tranported on other sleds. Often plenty of people took part.
    When the helpers and their horses returned home the boat crew was off on their own. Hauling the boat across the ice towards areas where they hoped to find broken ice which the seals like. Sailing or rowing when they found strips of open water.
    When they hauled the boat "stjiibåolin" that is the washboards were removed and the "tjieldoås" that is the ridge pole for the tent was lashed to the gunwales across the boat. The skipper held the outer end of tjieldoåsin using it as a lever to hold the boat upright and steer it. The other men hauled in simple harnesses fastened to the boat.
    When they had hauled the boat a suitable distance they walked back to fetch the sleds with all their provisions and equipment and the fäljulle.

    If the ice was smooth and the wind from astern the gunther mainsail was set as a sort of lug sail (in earlier times they just set the square sail). With the sail set the boat was at least a bit easier to haul and if the conditions were decent the boat sailed on it's own across the ice with the skipper steering and the rest of the crew hauling the sleds. Under absolutely perfect conditions the sleds could sometimes be tied behind the boat and so the boat and all equipment sailed across the ice with the men walking besides only taking turns steering the boat by the "tjieldoås".

    When they stopped for the night they put the "stamklåbb" , a chunk of wood under the forward end of the keel to keep the boat vertical alongship and "skolona" the struts under the outer gunwales the keep it upright athwartship and then they put up the "tjield" that is the tent. As far back as there has been kerosene fired primus stoves they have been used to cook food and coffee inside the tent where they also could dry their clothes somewhat.
    However it is said that in the old days before Primus stoves they brought a large cast iron kettle on a wooden stand and made a fire in the kettle on the ice on the leeward side of the boat or in lee of some ice formation and cooked on the fire. They brought firewood in long lenghts and chopped it off and burned every chip. However firewood was always in short supply and the weather wasn't always favourable for cooking outdoors so often they had only cold food and a cold tent.
    The men slept in sheepskin rugs athwartship on the rounded ceiling in the bottom of the boat. The skipper besides ståorbeton (the crossbeam at the mast step) where the hull is widest and the curve of the ceiling least severe.
    Amateur living on the western coast of Finland

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    Default Re: Finnish Ice Pram type?

    I have just got back after a 320km ride, and am pretty cold, just reading that description of camping on the ice is bone chilling, but i do quite fancy a pile of sheep skins to dive into. May sound odd, but any photos anywhere of a large iron kettle that was around in those times that you could have a fire inside? Sounds like a good thing to have. I have used a single primus burner inside a large thick offcut of steel pipe, which made a handy heat-sink and radiator in a small boat, that was when i could stomach parraffin smell, but now, along with diesel, both make me gag if over exposed.

    There was only partial icing on the lake this year, a fäljulle would have been a handy thing to have.....but i would have to upgrade my weather gear. Nice link, thanks for posting.

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    Default Re: Finnish Ice Pram type?

    They had the fire kettle outside away from the boat in those days. If the boat had caught fire they would all have perished. Usually it was just any old cast iron kettle which was in too bad condition for cooking.
    This one is kept in Västerbottens Museum https://samlingar.vbm.se/items/show/...&ref=%2Fsearch

    No wonder old fälmän tended to end up with back problems and rheumatism from living in wet clother and sleeping in moist sheepskins on the rounded ceiling of a boat inside a cold tent.
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    Default Re: Finnish Ice Pram type?

    Thanks for the info. Is what makes this site a trove of knowledge. I sent you a PM.

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