Launch day!

Published 31th Oct 2015

After almost half a year of cleaving , chopping, shaping, drilling and carving, the Gislinge Boat was launched.

And just like that, the big day finally arrived. By yesterday evening, the final oarlock was finished, the tiller was ready, the sail and rig had been fine-tuned and the final task – coating the overlap between the planks with a good layer of tallow to keep the water out – was finished by the apprentice Niels, just before the close of day. 

This morning it was all hands on deck as the boatyard had to be transformed from the working boatyard that it is, with all the shavings, odds and ends of wood, tools and equipment that boatbuilding entails, to a neat and tidy launch venue. Things went smoothly and steadily, and there was no sense of stress among the boatbuilders, just a sense of celebration that today would finally see the culmination of their efforts for the last half year.

A crowd had already started to gather by midday and people clustered in groups, enjoying the sun and getting a last close-up look at the boat before it would be pushed down the slipway and into the waters of the fjord for the first time. At one o’clock, the formalities began. After a speech by Søren Nielsen, the head of maritime reconstruction here at the Museum, the boat was ’baptised’ by Rikke Hvilhøj from KRAKS fond, the foundation who financially supported the project. And the name? Well, appropriately enough, the boat has been named Gisle, in homage to the find site of the original boat but also as a nod to the old Norse name ’Gisle’, which meant arrow shaft or stave, and which we felt related to the boat’s history.

Then it was just a matter of lowering the sail and mast, and the boatbuilders lined up alongside Gisle, took hold of the gunwales and smartly walked the boat down the slipway and into the fjord. They then wasted no time in hopping on board and getting the boat ready for a first trip outside of the harbour. A short spin later, and they were back in the harbour and ready to rig the boat for a first test of the sail, with weaver Anna Nørgaard on board as guest of honour. 

It was then time for a reception and a round of interviews with the various members of the Danish press who had come to cover the event. Silas was busy instagramming the events of the day and there was a quiet sense of achievement amongst everyone who’d been involved in the project – we had done it. The boat was bobbing calmly in the harbour and the launch had been a success. 

So what now for open source boatbuilding? The process won’t end abruptly now that Gisle has been launched. We hope to continue sharing videos and photos from the build over the course of the winter as our photographer finally gets a chance to get around the editing the many hours of footage he’s gathered over the summer. There’s a timelapse of the entire build on its way soon, and many, many images to be shared. There are reports to be written on the sail, iron smelting and production of nails, and these will also be shared with the public.    

And then of course, there’s the 200 people who’ve downloaded the working drawings. We hope to use the winter to get in touch with some of them and reverse the roles a little as we follow in their build. And then next summer? There’s no concrete plan in place as to what boat will be built yet, but we’ll ket you know as soon as things are finalised.

For the next month though, things will be a little quiet here on the Gislinge website. The Museum website is undergoing a major upgrade (starting at midnight tonight), so there will be little to no new content for the next month. Keep an eye on the Museum’s Facebook and Instagram profiles instead, as we’ll continue sharing all the Gisle related material we have. 

So it’s over and out from the Gislinge Project for the next 30 days!


Created by Tríona Sørensen