Hlyða. A detachable wash strake

Published 08th Aug 2007

As many have probably noticed, the Sea Stallion on its voyage to Dublin has been equipped with an extra plank, placed on the top of the uppermost strake. Is there documentation for this? When sailing in a stiff breeze and on the open sea, a longship such as Skuldelev 2 could, according to the information found in Icelandic literature, for example in contemporary scaldic verses, be equipped with an extra, detachable plank (the wash strake) that could give protection against sea spray and spindrift. From the point of view of construction, this strake lay outside the structure of the ship proper with floor timbers, frames, bites, thwarts, knees and strakes.

The additonal plank gives an answer to a problem which in principle can also be seen in later Nordic square-rigged boats with detachable wash strakes. The height of the hull and hence the air resistance is of particular significance when rowing and manoeuvring under oars (with the sail down) and must from the starting point be kept no higher than necessary. Other factors have also been of influence but the question of the air-resistance has been the central one. We naturally do not know in detail how a hlyða on Skuldelev 2 can have been constructed and mounted.

On the Sea Stallion the problem has been solved as practically and functionally as possible, and as a variant of what can be seen on older square-rigged vessels with wash strakes. The Sea Stallion’s hlyða stands on the stringer reinforcing the uppermost strake at its upper edge. It is drawn a little back from the outer edge of the strake and is divided up into several pieces. These have round iron bars mounted on the back side which like long tenons are stuck down into holes bored vertically into the gunwale and thus keep the hlyða in position.

Erik Andersen 



Falk, Hjalmar 1912: Altnordisches Seewesen. Translated into Swedish with comments by Bo Varenius in Fornordisk Sjöfart 1995: pp. 21-22. Båtdokgruppen, Skärhamn.

Jesch, Judith 2001: Ships and Men in the late Viking Age, pp. 141-143. The Boydell Press, Woodbridge.

Created by Erik Andersen, ship reconstructor, reconstructor of the Sea Stallion's rig