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Ytterligare Bilder #2

26/01 2011 — Återigen så har ytterligare bilder laddats upp i galleriet. Denna gången handlar det dock om 17 nya bilder.
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Ytterligare Bilder

25/01 2011 — Ytterligare 19 bilder har lagts till i galleriet.
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Nyhetsarkiv

Historik

33 sails! To South America in a 4masted barque without radio and engine.

An urge to travel and lacking understanding on the part of the school's headmaster resulted in my going to sea after my confirmation.
To avoid the slavery of school I chose the so-called free and happy life of a sailorman, with a view to experiencing foreign lands and in short, adventure.
I signed on as 'deck boy' in the 4masted barque 'VIKING' in late summer of 1919.
Before the Great War (The First World War) VIKING was used as a training ship for Dansk Rederiforening (Danish Association of Shipowners).
The ship was bought by Det Forenede Dampskibsselskab (The United Steamship Company) and became part of the fleet of their freighters.
After the First World War there was a great shortage of vessels and so many of the large sailing ships got a second lease on life.

VIKING was, and still is, a lovely ship which in her 'old age' can be seen at the entrance to Gothenburgh harbour. Despite her age, she still carries herself with style, showing her 50 metres high masts against the sky.
She tells of agreatness long gone where her great rig, carrying 33 sails of altogether 2700 square metres, with wind as the only power ploughed her furrow across the oceans of the world.
Today not many know what a 4masted barque actually is. The three masts each carry 6 square sails, 18 altogether. A square sail resembles a viking sail. It is fastened to a yard which is attached to the mast in such a fashion that the whole can be turned to the wind. In addition to the square sails there are the three-cornered stay sails, similar to the headsail on a yacht. Viking carried 13 of these. The aftermost mast, the mizzen, carried a gaff sail and a topsail.
So much for the specifications. They were necessary to show that such a ship needed great amounts of muscle power and seamanship to work and manoeuvre such a large, complicated ship without the help of an engine.
We were totally dependent upon the wind. It could take up to two hours to turn the ship when we were tacking against the wind. It would require so much space that at times even the Channel would be too narrow if the wind was contrary.
The deck crew numbered about 20 ABs (able bodied seamen) 4 young sailors and around 10 boys. The after guard comprised 4 mates and the skipper. There was a purser, cook and baker plus a bosun and a sail maker.
There were many mouths to feed daily and it was quite difficult at times. We carried 12 pigs, several geese and ducks and hens penned on the fore deck; a real 4masted farmyard.
Further provisions were placed in a room down aft, packed in ice which quickly melted.
There is a lot to do before such a large ship is ready to tackle the oceans; masts and yards are to be rigged, the sails bent on. IN northern latitudes the heavy weather sail.

This took nearly a week of hard work by the entire crew; this was the start to an exciting and hopefully happy trip.
After tearful goobyes to family, sweathearts and friends we set sail and it was a real thrill to go high up in the rig to loosen sail or be right out to the end of the bowsprit, looking down into the blue sea where the slender stem cut the water and raised a fine bow wave. It was terrific to be a real sailor. At least, that was how it felt up through Kattegat, with a fresh breeze over the quarter.
We anchored at Skagen (The Skaw) and waited for a good wind so we could get around and go down through the North Sea and the Channel.

The wind turned, we set all sail and said goodbye to Denmark and now the serious side of life showed itself. I was sent up the main mast, all the way up to the uppermost yard to set the Royal. I enjoyed the fantastic view, first hanging out over the sea to starboard, next moment looking down into the waves to port. I must have taken too long up there; when I finally set foot on deck again, I got a great fist smack in the face. Everything went dark and I saw sun, moon and a lot of stars. When I came to I heard a coarse voice, issuing from a red, hot tempered face screamed: 'Do you think you are on a school picnic? You had better get some speed up!' He was rough one but otherwise alright.
I picked up more speed, not from a desire to do but from fear of more beatings. Even so, we did not escape rough handling. We copped many hard blows, especially during the night when the off watch was called to help tacking the vessel. It was so easy, in the dark, to give a poor deck boy a clip over the ear just out of spite because one's watch below was interrupted. It was characteristic that it was only the poorer sailors who were rough.
In the Channel I fell down a steep companionway with a bucket of boiling soapy water, scalding my right arm badly. We did not have a doctor on board, but our pleasant first mate was the 'medicine man' and it went quite well, even if he was no expert. He doused the raw flesh with spirits, then he applied vaseline and wrapped it up and nature took care of the rest.
At length we passed Lands End and stood up the Bristol Channel to Port Albert. Here we loaded for Brazil. Then we started the long haul. We encountered many troubles with rough weather before reaching the Trade Winds. It got hotter and hotter. Here in the open sea, rolling in the heavy seas, the sails were exchanged with the light weather sail, an old suit of sails, worn by wind and weather.
It was now Decemeber and Christmas was drawing close. We looked forward to a Christmas Ee far from home and under the Southern Cross.

The day eventually dawned and we shortened sails in the late afternoon, but no more than we could maintain speed and course.
A so-called Chritmas tree was rigged in the crew mess. The trunk was an oar and brooms and the like made up the brances from which various more or less funny things were suspended. We were served rice pudding and fruit juice; I think we also had roast goose, but I am not sure of this, but there was definitely roast pork. I helped slaughter the pig the day before.
Of beverages there were beer and schnapps. In good Danish fashion, we walked around the strange 'tree' and sand Christmas carols, but it degenerated into somewhat coarser choice of songs. Punch was served later, our eyes shone and all got red in the face from the hot drink. We recieved our small gift parcels which were donated by the ladies of the Seamen's Mission. I got a pair of gloves, knitted by a kind lady from the north of Jutland. She had enclosed a little note, warning of the dangers and temptations in the far away countries and wishing me a blessed Christmas. It was touching; she did not know, of course, that I was in just about the warmest part of the globe.
Christmas morning; all sail were once again set and there were flying fish galore. The next few days passed peacefully in the steady trade winds. On our watch off we fished for bonitos, a type of mackerel. A large iron hook with a light coloured rag as the bait sufficied. On one occasion the fish was too big, or our gear too weak. The fish ran away with a hook, rag and piece of line. For several days after, it could be seen following the ship with my old shirt trailing from its mouth.

It was very hot in the day time; twice a day we sloshed sea water all over the deck to stop the pitch from melting.
We passed the Equator one morning between Christmas and New Year and the great show started; funny only for those who had already been across the line. There were eleven of us who were first timers.
We were subjected to that rough and uncivilised treatment which now thankfully belongs to the past.
I will recall briefly how a so called Line Baptism went in the old, long gone time of the large sailing ships, where the trvialities of the daily grind easily led to rough behaviour, even in otherwise nice people.

Exactly at three o' clock in the afternoon, we saw King neptune and his coterie appeared from out of the sea, all of them in fanciful costumes. Neptune settled himself on his throne, his followers, including his 'doctor' and 'barber' gathered around him. A large pool was constructed from canvas on the fore deck.
All the non-'baptised' persons were hauled out, one by one from locked, darkened room. We were inspected by 'Hippocratto', the doctor to make sure we did not carry 'illnesses' from the northern to the southern hemisphere and made to swallow a pill about the size of a small walnut. It tasted terrible and to make it slide down, a generous dollop of castor oil was poured in after it.
Then we were dropped into the pool and held down by two of the larger sailors until the water 'bubbled' and this was repeated several times.
After these ministrations one was found worthy to enter the southern hemisphere.
This ceremony was much longer than this; one more indignity was to be painted and tarred both fore and aft.
After this lovely spectre the festivities began. A pig had been slaughtered and now eaten; heavy drinking went with this.
I could not get anything down. Everything tasted of castor oil and that dreadful pill. My stomach was in a sad state for several days.
A couple of days later it was Ner Year and another pig was slaughtered and again large quantities of drink went down. The sails were shortened and teetotaller was at the helm most of the night. The merriment made a night in Nyhavn (a quarter of Copenhagen, much sought by sailors, as there was a pub in every building along the wharf) seem like a Sunday school. Later in the night most of the crew were scattered around the deck, fast asleep and an older hand, still capable of moving, crawled around and opened the mouths of the sleepers. He pulled at their teeth to see if any of them has false teeth. He had lost his own during a bout of puking sometime in the night.
After the festivities the daily grind continued in the heat. We were short of fresh water, what we had was rationed and almost undrinkable. Washing of clothes and general cleanliness suffered. We used salt water and many suffered from Boils. If we got these from the salt water or from deplorable food I don't know. The menu varied very little and often not quite fresh. Vitamins were not discovered then, I think.
Many suffered from stomach upset. One day we protested over something which looked like hamburgers. A deputation went to the skipper with a complaint and a plateful of food. The skipper recieved the deputation on the poop deck. He then asked for the plate a fork and proceeded to eat the lot, apparently with relish. The sailors looked on a with wonder and were greatly impressed by this spectacle. Never again was there a complaint regarding the food. The respect for the skipper was great but we did think that he had somehow tricked us. Today it would probably be called psychology.

The mood on board was electric; that was also the only form for electricity we had. It did not take much to strike sparks. We were a small community on an island, together for an unspecified time, caught in the net of the weather gods. The solidarity squeaked and cracked often along the seams.
One day we spotted land ahead, it was the mountains of Brazil. That the food was bad and that the cook spruced up the coffee with soy was all of a sudden no longer a real problem; everybody became more friendly. Each of us looked forward to the feel of solid ground under our feet in this foreign and exciting country. We looked forward to mail from home and to find out how the world had been getting on. We had no idea if there was a war or not, as there were no means of communication on board. The radio had not yet been invented. We arrived straight from the wild and empty space on the ocean.
The sight of Rio de Janeiro and the mountains was breathtaking. We moored alongside and discharged the briquettes we had carried from England. We experienced the city which displayed riches and luxury which none of us had ever seen before. The villas at home along the coast seemed spartan compared to the palaces of Rio which lay like beautiful pearls along the bay; all of them surrounded by parks and exotic flowers.
But we saw that there was a back side to the medallion as well; a poor quarter, large and squalid where the ordinary inhabitants lef a dreary life with his usually large family.
It was obvious that this was a country where a small minority lived like kings and millions starved.
Back to the ship; that small world which is what this story is about. After unloading and loading, this time with a large rock, we were towed out and anchored in the large bay.
Here a tragedy occurred which none of who expereicned it will forget. One of our smaller boats had been rigged with mast and sails, first and fourth mates plus two boys sailed off with an American skipper who had been visiting. During their trip a tropical storm blew down from the mountains; the sky went dark with windblown sand and soil and then the rain pelted down over the tumultuous bay. We set another anchor and gave both all the chain we had; the ship had started to drift.

Many of the locals perished whilst fishing in their small boats. We lost both of the mates and one of the boys, the other one found after the storm. The American and one of the boys were saved.
It was a sad time; we did not understand the 'why?' And it was almost a release when we set course for Argentina, Buenos Aires on the La Plata river to be exact; as the crows fly approximately 2400km. We had a fine trip in the South Atlantic.
Eventually we perceived that we were getting near the La Plata river, the otherwise blue sea turned grey and muddy. We were so far from land that it was not yet visible. The wind was good and from the right direction and later in the day we sailed up the river until we could see Monte Video, the capital of Uruguay to the right and later the flat Argentina to the left.
We had all sail set on the 300km trip up river right up to the Buenos Aires roads. We got alongside in a long, narrow port where we saw several large barques, most of them were Norweigan whalers and a few Danish plus an American five masted barquentine. The forest of masts presented a lovely sight.
The general view was not all that pretty but there was certainly life in the harbour, and the pubs seemed to have plenty of trade with thirsty sailors.

After a rather long stay we eventually loaded a cargo of corm for Denmark and we took in stores. This time we had a goodly sized mod of sheep which were held in a fenced in area of the deck. THe poor animals made a deep impression on me during the long voyage homewards. They could not get used to the motion of the ship; they bumped their heads till they bled, the lost their fat and they tasted awful when they eventually were slaughtered.
At long last, after a lot of bad weather in the Bay of Biscay, we found ourselves hove to with a contrary wind, so we could not enter the Channel.
It was quite exiciting and one day the skipper declared: 'If the wind does not change tomorrow, we will go north around Scotland'.

Forunately, the gods of wind and sea were benevolent, the wind turned and we streaked at full speed up through the Channel where we overtook several steamers, much to our delight.
The morning of Pentecost saw us, dancing with the sun, into the port of Aarhus. The long voyage was over.
It had been a fantastic experiecne, which cleared my mind. I had decided that a life on the ocean wave was not for me, but what I learned aboard the 'Viking' 50 years ago has stood me in good stead every since.