Category Archives: Working boats

Working and life on the Norfolk Broads in the late 19th Century

My pal Malcolm Woods has just found a new online collection of Victorian photographer Peter Henry Emerson’s atmospheric shots depicting the Norfolk Broads.

They’re stunning – though I can’t help that despite the dreamy tranquility they do seem to depict a hard and narrow-looking sort of life. There would be work and the struggle of getting by all week and on Saturday, of course – and then on Sunday there would other duties for many, often listening to fiery sermons in the chapel.

When novelist LP Hartley wrote: ‘The past is a foreign country; they do things differently there,’ he could so easily have been writing about these folks.

Viking ship sets sail to America

Viking ship sails for America via Iceland and Greenland

Reproduction Viking ship Draken Harald Hårfagre has set sail for North America via Iceland and Greenland, and we can follow its progress here and on this Facebook page.

Great good luck to them. This will be an amazing and challenging trip, of course, and the crew will experience conditions few of us could face and will be far from any sort of quick rescue.

We live in very different times and it’s striking that this voyage will in some ways be different those experienced by the Vikings, and for good safety reasons. The skipper and crew have waited for a suitable weather window – in an open boat, you would. Modern weather forecasting must be a huge blessing.

Also I gather the ship is only permitted to carry 30 crew, not the 100 it would have had in the Viking era – which means she cannot be rowed in the way the Viking forefathers did, and so is motorised.

Still, I can’t imagine there’s a red-blooded sailor alive that wouldn’t love to spend some time sailing a craft like that – particularly if (like me) they have good reason to believe the Vikings were among their ancestors…

Do you want to see the sailing? See below!

Smack racing on the Blackwater, 2010

My thanks to excellent small boat designer and sailor John Welsford for sharing this one!