The Jorgen Jorgenson and the Gokstad Ship:
The Jorgen Jorgensen, a major asset of the Pyrmont Heritage Boating Club, is one of only four extant replicas of the Gokstad Ship. The original occupies a purpose-built museum in Oslo. The Gokstad was a fully seaworthy sailing and rowing vessel, made of oak, capable of accommodating over 100 oarsmen and finally used as a burial chamber for a powerful Viking chieftain around 900AD. The Gokstad’s design had evolved through a thousand years of shipbuilding by the earliest European masters of the craft.
Other Gokstad replicas have completed trans-Atlantic crossings, weathered hurricanes and won an enviable international reputation as sail-training vessels, generating resurgent global interest in the form. Five large replica Long-Ships are currently under construction in North America, Ireland, Denmark and Norway. A recent Swedish Gokstad ship project (Sigrid Storråda) drew some 60,000 visitors during construction alone, and few images are as stirring as a Long-Ship under full sail or oar. Interest has reached such a peak that a now another totally authentic new build (not a replica) of a Long-Ship has now been completed – the 114ft Dragan Harald. Intended as a world navigator, it has already begun to bring the Long-Ship story to all four corners of the globe.
Launched in 1987, our ship the Jorgen Jorgenson is built of high quality materials (45mm Douglas Fir planking on a Jarrah backbone all silicon bronze fastened and Everdure saturated) to the exacting standards required to achieve a Passenger Carrying Permit under the very stringent Western Australian Regulations and until recently was a operating charter vessel. When first launched it was licensed to carry 76 passengers and crew under sail. During its charter operations in the Swan River and Fremantle Harbour it was logged at a speed of 21 knots under sail and 9 knots under oar. Its sister ship, the Gaia (pictured in our header), sailed from Oslo to Newfoundland weathering a North Atlantic storm on the voyage.
The club recognizes that any element of “Disneyfication” would detract from the significance of the project. The Jorgen Jorgenson will strive for authenticity in all aspects. Its strongly-built hull is in good condition and authentic restoration of the spars, rigging and sails offers an excellent opportunity to re-learn and reconnect with the greatest sailing tradition the world has seen in a way that enriches the two-hundred year maritime traditions of Sydney Harbour. Although we will not be pioneering this knowledge, we will be amongst a select few worldwide (and certainly the only ones in the southern hemisphere) who will go on to apply this tradition which ruled the known worlds oceans for hundreds of years and whose legacy still informs sailing design and technology today. The Gokstad ship is a ‘karfi’ – a light warship – and probably spent most of its life as a mixed-use trading and raiding vessel and it is as such that our vessel will be restored.