The traditional Faroese rowing boat is a clinker-built boat. Clinker building is the old Nordic method of building boats with overlapping wooden planks. Using this construction, Norsemen built their boats over one thousand years ago, and with them the Vikings sailed and left their mark on settled as well as yet unexplored lands in the North Atlantic.
The Faroese rowing boat has its origins in the smaller boats of the Vikings. The Faroese boat has the characteristic features of the Nordic clinker-built boat; it is pointed at both ends and of a light construction. The shape of the boat’s hull is similar to that on a Viking longship. The boat is regarded by many as the best example of Faroese craftsmanship there is, and the boat is considered one of the most attractive and flawless boats in the world. Natural conditions in the turbulent North Atlantic Ocean, where the Faroe Islands are situated, place great demands on the boat’s sea worthiness, and the Faroese boat builders have for centuries and with great ingenuity and expertise been able to develop a boat suitable for Faroese waters. The boat is extremely sea-worthy, easy to row and sails well using a sail. Although the boats are made from thin boards, the construction as a whole is very strong and well-suited to the fjords and sea around the Faroe Islands. It’s relatively light in weight, and in difficult conditions, with high waves, can be lifted up onto the beach by just a few men. The boat handles easily in the water and is easy to row in stormy waters. What makes it best suited to the sea surrounding the Faroe Islands, however, is the technology involved in rowing the boat; the long, narrow oars, the rowlock and the collar, which stops the oar from slipping; these items work together to hold the oar in place, and make them ideal for use in rough seas.
The Faroese boat can be found in a number of sizes. The Seksæringur, or tolvmannafar, can be rowed by 12 people, and is about 28 foot long; Tíggjumannafar, rowed by 10 people, is about 26 foot long; Áttamannafar, rowed by 8 people, is 24 foot; Seksmannafar, rowed by 6 people, is 22 foot; Fýramannafar, rowed by 4 people, is 20 foot; Tristur, rowed by 3 people, 18 foot; Tríbekkur, rowed by 2 people, but with 3 seats, 17 foot.
The boat, including the oars, rowlocks, floorboards and bailer, would take the boat builder between a week and 14 days to build, depending on the size of the boat. The finished boat would be treated with tar everywhere except on the thwarts, or crosswise struts. The bailer, a container used to bail water out of the boat, is carved from a piece of wood, usually driftwood. The bailer is the most important item of the boat’s equipment. Faroese oars are different from oars used on other boats. Characteristic are the long, slender blade and the oar loom’s rectangular cross-section, which prevents the oar from slicing the water during rowing. There is a slight incline in the blade from the loom, so the oar catches well in the water to drive it forward. It was at one time common for the collar that holds the oar fast in the rowlock to be cut from the fins of a pilot whale. These days, however, it is made from a piece of rope.The Faroese rowlock is made from oak, and its special appearance has compelled folk to name it after a human head; the ‘nose’ sticks forwards, the hole is for the eyes, and the top piece is the neck.
Key to a working boat is the bung, the drain plug. There is an old Faroese expression that says you shouldn’t make the bung before the boat is finished. The bunghole is drilled into the stern on the port side and the bung is put into the boat from inside.
In the old days, a loose oar was used to steer the boat, but this was switched to a fixed rudder hooked onto the stern, which functioned better.
In earlier times, the Faroese boat had a sail; this was a square sail set in the shape of a diamond, narrow at the top and broad at the bottom, as the mast was placed in the middle of the boat, but from about 1850 boats changed to two sails, a lugsail at the front thwart, and a smaller mizzen sail across the stern.
The Faroese boat is first and foremost a light rowing boat that can be propelled across the water with light, slender oars under the worst conditions imaginable. The oars have always been the primary means of propulsion, in all kinds of weather. The sail was secondary, and was only used when the wind was favourable.
There are not many communities in the world that have their history, their fate and their entire existence so closely connected to the sea as the Faroese people, and the boat has been fundamental to life on the Faroe Islands, whether used for fishing or as a mode of transport between the islands.
Issue Date: 25.02.2013
Designer: Edward Fuglø
Printer: Beijing Stamp Printing House, China
Colours: 4 Colours
Size: 25,50 x 22,72 or 65,88 x 22,72 mm
Size of the sheetlet: 125 x 90 mm
Values: 12.50 kr
Postal use: small letters, inland, 0 - 50 gr